Something that becomes an important part of your life when you move to Taiwan is your residency status. In your home country you never need to worry about work and residency visas, but when living in a foreign country, it’s a topic that often takes center stage.
If you are coming to Taiwan for the first time without any type of family ties, and you are planning to only stay here for a year or two, the entire visa situation will be quite simple and straightforward. But, if you have family or plan to stay longer you will end up with more options.
Work Sponsored Visa / ARC
The majority of people teaching English in Taiwan will be doing so on a work sponsored visa. Your buxiban will complete and submit all necessary paperwork to the government on your behalf. You will then receive an Alien Resident Certificate, more commonly referred to as an ARC.
This allows you to live and work in Taiwan. It allows you to access to the national healthcare system. The important things to note about this type of ARC are that it’s tied to your employer, and that it must be renewed annually. It is possible to add second employers to it, or to find a new employer, but you have to follow a specific procedure if you wish to do either.
Anyone married to a legal resident can apply for a marriage visa. The proper name for this type of visa is the Joint Family Residence Visa, or JFRV for short. As this is tied to your significant other and not your employer, it’s up to you to compile and complete all of the needed paperwork. It’s a bit of a process, so be sure to check with the government about their current procedures, and to plan out each step in advance.
If the person that your JFRV is tied to is a Taiwanese citizen, you have the luxury of open work rights. As this has been a point of confusion in the past, the government has now even listed this in red print directly on the JFRV I.D. card. You can freely work in a buxiban or even a convenience store without additional permission from the government.
This is not true for someone obtaining their JFRV through a non-Taiwanese citizen. Like work sponsored visas, marriage based visa also need to be renewed, though they have longer validity periods than basic ARCs.
A cool thing about living and working in Taiwan is that they have a relatively short time requirement for a person to become a permanent resident. If you keep a work based ARC or a JFRV for 5 years without breaking your residency status you may be eligible to apply for an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate, or APRC.
This type of visa frees you from the need to have a employer sponsor your stay in Taiwan. After going through with the formality of obtaining an open work permit, or OWP, you get open work rights. Unlike the JFRV, as the name of this visa suggests, it’s permanent and does not need to be renewed.
This visa used to be more difficult to get, but over that last year some of the old requirements have become more simplified.
People looking to move to Taiwan who are unable to obtain a work or family based visa may look into studying Chinese. The nice thing about student based visas is that they are available to people who may have problems getting a work based visa.
While you will gain residency with a student ARC, you need permission from the school if you wish to work. Maximum work hours are also limited. An additional drawback is that for a person aiming to eventually apply for an APRC, your time in Taiwan under a student visa does not count toward the required 5 years of residency.
There are additional fringe options like establishing a representative office for your overseas company or getting an investment visa, but for most people these are extreme measures.
No matter which option you target, if you are not Taiwanese and you want to live and work in Taiwan you’ll need a visa. For more information of all of the different visas that Taiwan has you can check out the Bureau of Consular Affairs website .
Taiwan has also established a 24-hour toll-free hotline for foreigners living in Taiwan at 0800-024-111. There are English speaking government employees available to either help you with your question or direct you to the appropriate government office.
*We are not lawyers. This is not legal advice. Policies in Taiwan change over time, sometimes very quickly, so whenever in doubt, refer to the most recent government provided information.