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Taiwan: Permanent Residence More Accessible to Certain Stateless Persons and Others

(Feb. 13, 2009) On January 23, 2009, an amendment to Taiwan's Immigration Law (literally, Law on Entering or Leaving the Country and Immigration, adopted on May 21, 1999) was published in the GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. Two new paragraphs were added to article 16. One new paragraph specifies that stateless persons and Republic of China (on Taiwan) nationals without registered permanent residence in the Taiwan area who come from Thailand or Myanmar (Burma), who were permitted by the Ministry of Education or the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission to enter the country between May 21, 1999, and December 31, 2008, for purposes of attending school or receiving technical training, and who cannot be forcibly deported, should be permitted by the National Immigration Agency (NIA) to reside in the Taiwan area (para. 3). The “Taiwan area” is defined in the Law as Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and other territories under the control of the government (art. 3, item 3).

According to the other new paragraph, stateless persons who have entered the Taiwan area from India or Nepal during that same time period, who cannot be forcibly deported and whose identity has been confirmed by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, should be permitted by the NIA to reside in the Taiwan area (para. 4). The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, along with the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, is one of two ministry-level bodies under the Executive Yuan (Cabinet). (Amendment to Entering or Leaving the Country and Immigration Law, 6845 GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 18-20 (Jan. 23, 2009), available at http://content.glin.gov/summary/214974; The Amendment of Immigration Act Passed Through Three Readings by the Legislative Yuan [Nov. 30, 2007, text of the Law in English translation], National Immigration Agency website, http://www.immigration.gov.tw//immig_eng/aspcode/showactsregu.asp?id=23 (last visited Feb. 9, 2009).)

The change in the Law reportedly “will allow nearly 1,000 Tibetans and ethnic Chinese from Thailand and Myanmar to apply for permanent residency in Taiwan” according to the NIA, these persons “overstayed their visas in Taiwan. Using passports obtained on the black market, many of these individuals came for the purpose of study and illegally stayed after their authorizations expired.” (Ellen Ko, Immigration Act Change Passes, 26:5 TAIWAN JOURNAL, Feb. 6, 2009, available at http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=47556; Loa Iok-sin, Taiwan Commission Promises to Assist Tibetan Refugees, TAIPEI TIMES, Dec. 12, 2008, at 2, available at http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2008/12/12/2003430892.)