Monday, September 8, 2014

Working in Taiwan

I'm an American born Taiwanese (ABT) and never did it cross my parents' minds that I'd want to live in Taiwan so they never applied for Taiwan citizenship for me. After making my decision, I knew I needed to figure out my citizenship issues so that I could legally stay and work in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government allows the children of Taiwanese citizens born in a foreign nation to also apply for Taiwanese citizenship. If you are under 20, you can get it immediately (instructions in Chinese here) and your life in Taiwan is peachy because you're a Taiwanese citizen just like everyone else.

Since I'm over 20, the process is more complicated (instructions in Chinese here). I needed to first get a special no household registry Taiwanese passport from the Taiwanese consulate in Houston and then enter Taiwan on a residency visa. After entering the country, I then needed to apply for a resident certificate. Once you get the resident certificate and stay in Taiwan for 365 consecutive days, you are eligible to apply for a Taiwanese ID card and with that, you earned your Taiwanese citizenship badge.

I thought that the resident certificate was enough to allow me to work, but nope, to legally work here you must also have a working visa that the company hiring you applies for. Most people working in drama production are on a contract basis and when there's an opening, they need it filled immediately. Since it takes 1-2 months to get a working visa and requires a lot of paperwork, it's very unlikely that a production company will sponsor a working visa for you. A good alternative for fellow non-citizen ABT's is to first become an English teacher with a company that can get you a working visa. Once you get the working visa then you can look for the job you really want.

Obviously, you can also work without a working visa, but please keep in mind that it is illegal and if the immigration agency finds out, you could be deported and banned from ever visiting Taiwan again. If you're a foreigner, you need an ARC and a working permit which you can read more about here and here.

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