Many foreigners find themselves liking life in Taiwan so much that they end up staying in Taiwan longer than they expected, and some even decide to make it official by applying for their APRC (Alien Permanent Resident Certificate). Getting your APRC automatically qualifies you for getting an Open Work Permit. So what advantages does holding an APRC with an Open Work Permit offer over a regular work visa? Here are the most obvious benefits:
- No more annual renewals, health checks, and associated fees
- You can change jobs any time you want
- You can change professions without getting the 2 years experience normally required for a working visa
- You can hold more than one job
- APRC holders can leave Taiwan for up to 2 years without losing the permanent resident status. You can find the exemption form here.
- You are not beholden to a spouse or an employer for your resident status here.
Sounds great, right? Sure, but they’re not giving them out for nothing just yet! So, who qualifies? There are two paths to securing permanent residency (APRC).
1. APRC PLUM BLOSSOM PROGRAM This program is aimed at uniquely qualified, in high demand, skilled foreigners. No minimum residency requirements, no income requirements. Heck, you don’t even have to be in Taiwan before applying for the APRC through the Plum Blossom Program. There are no required residency after getting it, either. You don’t have to pay $10,000 for it, either. It’s FREE. However, it’s not for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who comes to Taiwan. Uniquely qualified with skills in high demand ONLY! Here’s the link: APRC Plum Blossom Program
2. The Regular APRC Program Anyone who has had an ARC for five consecutive years, with a physical presence in the R.O.C. for at least 183 days each year, and makes at least double Taiwan’s Basic Wage. At the time of this writing, that was approximately $NT430,000 a year, but if there’s any doubt, check to make sure that this number is still valid. If you still think you’re a likely candidate for an APRC, here are ten steps you need to go through. Some of them are simple, and some are not, but they’re all necessary.
1. The very first thing to do is to go to the local NIA (National Immigration Agency) offices and make sure you qualify. Once your eligibility is confirmed, talk to an NIA agent and tell them you want to apply for your APRC. They’ll give you an application form or you can just download it here: https://www.immigration.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=1093192&ctNode=32316&mp=2
2.You’re going to need some photos – probably only 4 or 5, but you might as well get a dozen or so to be safe. The photos have to be 4.5 X 3.5 centimeters (height by width), with the face occupying 3.2 to 3.6 centimeters. Don’t worry too much about the dimensions if you’re getting them done in Taiwan. These are standard photos and local photo shops are used to doing this.
3. You might need to get a CCRD. (Clear Criminal Record Document) from your home country. You won’t need a criminal record check from your home country if you meet the waiver requirements. During your 5 years of residency, you can’t have been out of Taiwan for over 3 months on any single trip. So, as long as you still have met the residency requirements of 183 days per year for each of the 5 years and were never out of Taiwan for over 3 months on any single trip, you won’t need to provide the criminal record check from your home country.
“A foreign national, who has legally resided in the State for five years in a row and has not left the State for over 3 months during any particular trip out of the country, is exempted from submitting a criminal record of the original country.”
If you DO require a CCRD, there are different processes in place for different countries. Here are the instructions for getting a CCRD from:
- the USA (FBI background check ONLY. State background checks are not accepted.)
- Canada (RCMP background check)
- the UK
- South Africa
- New Zealand
4.Once you’ve got your CCRD, you’re required to have it authenticated. You CANNOT have it authenticated at your local TECO. It can only be authenticated at the main headquarters of all the subordinate TECOs of your home country. The official name is the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO). For Americans, that would be the TECRO in Washington DC. No other office can or will authenticate the FBI background check. Once you get your completed criminal record check authenticated at the TECRO and have received it here in Taiwan, you need to have it translated into Chinese and have the Chinese translation authenticated at the district court house.
NOTE: TECROs in an applicant’s home country used to authenticate Chinese translations as well as the original criminal background checks, but the policy was changed and they won’t do it anymore, so now all Chinese translations of the CCRD have to be authenticated in Taiwan at the district court instead. More hassles.
- If you’re in Taipei City, go to XXX.
- If you’re in Xinbei City (aka New Taipei City), go to XXX.
- If you’re in Taichung City, go to XXX.
- If you’re in Kaohsiung City, go to XXX
6. Getting your Health Check is next if it’s required. You won’t need a health check if you meet the waiver requirements. During your 5 years of residency, you can’t have been out of Taiwan for over 3 months on any single trip. So, as long as you still have met the residency requirements of 183 days per year for each of the 5 years and were never out of Taiwan for over 3 months on any single trip, you won’t need to provide a health check with your APRC application.
“A foreign national, who has legally resided in the State for five years in a row and has not left the State for over 3 months during any particular trip out of the country, is exempted from submitting a health check.”
You’ll need the Type B Form, which is also the same form as the marriage health check form. The cost is about $NT1600, and you’ll need to provide a passport photo. You’ll need to do a chest X-ray, talk to a doctor, and have a blood test. Results are usually ready in a few working days.
7. If you’ve been previously getting your ARC on the basis of employment, you’re now going to have to provide some documents from your previous employers. You’re going to need your original work permits for the last three years. Make sure you have all the work permits for all the places you are employed. Make copies – you will get the originals back form the NIA. You will also need your contracts for the last 3 years as well as the original employment certificate with the company’s official chop. Again, make copies. The NIA will give the originals back to you. The immigration agent will give these back to you. You will also need copies of your withholding and nonwithholding tax statements for the past three years. This is what your employer gives you when you do your taxes.
NOTE: This is already a little unclear. The NIA says the past 3 years, but I’ve learned that quite a few recent applicants only had to provide the last 1 year of these documents. The NIA website says as far as the income, it’s the last 1 year only.
8. Death and Taxes. Ok, no dying required, but you DO have to make sure your taxes are in order. WIth ARC and passport in hand, make your way to the local tax office. You need to get your income statements for the past 3 years you have worked. As of 2013, your gross earnings should be over $NT450,000 per annum. (Check with the NIA for updated income requirements.) Once you have your income statements, go to another counter and get your tax payment list for the last three years. The staff are always very helpful, so don’t be afraid to ask.
NOTE: This is again a little unclear. I’m aware that several recent applicants submitted three years of tax statements, but the NIA only accepted the last year. The NIA says the past 3 years, but I’ve learned that quite a few recent applicants only had to provide the last 1 year of these documents. The NIA website says as far as the income, it’s only the last 1 year that is required.
9. Make an appointment with an NIA agent to submit your documents. Never, ever just try to walk in. Always make an appointment via telephone first.
10. It’s Interview Time! Ok, it’s the big day. Remember to bring two passport photos, all your documents, and copies of your documents, including your ARC, your old passports, and of course, your current passport. The agent will go over all your documents and make sure everything is signed and in order before you submit them. They call it an interview, but it’s really just a document inspection process – no questions are asked, so you don’t have to worry! Once this is over, you need to sit back and wait. People have gotten their APRCs in as little as two weeks, but more commonly it takes closer to a month. Your letter of approval will be sent to your residence, but somebody has to be at home to accept it – you’ll need to sign for it. With approval in hand, you go back to the NIA, pay them $NT10,000 (except for Plum Blossom Applicants, as they are exempt) and then wait another two weeks, when you will return and pick up your newly-minted APRC.
Next step, Open Work Permit! You’re almost there!