Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Taiwan Immigration Update II

Some news on that front. Eventually I received my Marital Status certificate and my Police Clearance certificate and put both through their paces by having them signed and certified by the SA ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa. In fact, for a nominal fee the South African lady who works there, Maya Du Rand will sort everything out for you. In fact, regarding the police clearance certificate, it's better if you send it directly to her and let her take it from there. You can contact her through the Taipei Liaison Office in Pretoria. She will take it to the criminal records bureau and sit on their butts to get them to hurry the process up and keep it within the promised 20 odd work day time-frame. She's an absolute life saver.

Those two documents were the big obstacles as basically anything that goes through the South African government takes ages. An American friend in Taiwan applied for his criminal record clearance from the US via the FBI and had it in hand within four weeks. The AIT got his marital status certificate within a week.

So all in all I had to prepare these documents:
1. South African police criminal record clearance
2. Marital status certificate
3. Taiwanese married certificate
4. A valid ARC
5. Arrival and departure certificate from NIA in Taiwan and proof of residence for 3 years (married applicants) or 5 years (single applicants).
6. Language proficiency certificate, which is either certified proof of Chinese language classes at a government approved language center such as Tai Da, NCKU etc., or the Language proficiency test (which I did and proudly scored 100% in).
7. Tax records proving you have earned twice the minimum Taiwanese salary (NT$ 17 836) or bank records or other proof showing you have cash or assets to the amount of NT$5 million.
8. Household registration certificate
9. Two photos, NT$200 and an application form. You also need your passport and some HHR offices require a Chinese chop (seal with your Chinese name).
*Note: All foreign documents need to be authenticated by MOFA, translated into Chinese and the translation authenticated by a local court.

All my documents were in order except for one snag. My tax records weren't sufficient because my ARC school (as many or most do here) lied on my tax returns. further investigation as to why revealed they do this (my school at any rate) and take the surplus the save on tax by giving in faulty returns and give it back to you at the end of your contract period as your "End of Contract Bonus". Initially I didn't think this would be a problem as married applicants don't have to give in tax records, only proof of work, and even that isn't necessary if you can prove that your Taiwanese family can and does take care of you financially (which is probably the case with foreign brides who mostly don't work, but come here for marriage and as housewives).
My problem was twofold:
1. I was still on a work related ARC and so had to give tax records as proof of income.
2. The three year period for married couples is the period you have been married, not your stay in Taiwan. Kiki and I will only be married for three years in February 2010.
The helpful staff at the HHR office suggested I apply for a family visa (Joining family residence Visa - JFRV) and return in February next year to apply for citizenship. I was worried that this would reset my clock and I would have to wait another three years before I could apply, but the lady at the HHR office said this is only the case at NIA (for things like APRCs etc.), but that the HHR office is only concerned with how long you've been married, not how long you've been on a visa or change of visa. She also assured us that as long as we don't leave the country before we apply I wont need to re-apply for a police criminal record or any documents from South Africa.
It is the route they recommend as it makes the procedure much smoother and easier, and it's the normal way of doing it - once again, due to experience with foreign brides that aren't in Taiwan on work ARCs.

So, that's where we are right now. I applied for a JFRV but I'll do another update for that as I think the info I gained will be useful to people who wish to apply for JFRVs and not necessarily naturalization.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Taiwan Immigration Update I

I'm going to start off this update with a picture of South Africa's new President. Jacob Zuma. You may notice that he's laughing. Well, considering how he escaped a very long prison sentence and somehow managed to climb up the political ladder to the pinnacle of power in SA, he has every reason to laugh. You may even think he's laughing at you. I'm sure, mostly he is. But today, he's laughing at me. And he's thinking, "Ah, my silly whitey. We want you to piss off, but before you go, we want to torture you some more."
You see, it seems the southern tip of Afrika will not release it's clutches unless it's given you an up the rear cavity search of a review of why you're immigrating. Just in case you forgot. Eish.

Three months ago I made the very inconvenient trip up to Taipei from Tainan to get my fingerprints taken (for my police clearance certificate) and to apply for a marital status certificate. The only two documents I need from South Africa. Thank all that's holy in this world!
I was ensured at length by one of the gentlemen there that the marital status wouldn't take longer than a month to six weeks at the most. It's been twice that and still no word.
Fortunately, I decided to delay sending my application for the police clearance as I suspected it would take longer due to elections, Easter and a myriad of public holidays and long weekends in South Africa during March and April. So, I sent it just over a month ago by registered airmail. This shouldn't have taken more than five to seven days to get to the Republic. However, almost four weeks after I'd sent it I get an e-mail from some woman in Alberton that says she's erroneously received my application papers in the post. I've checked the address and we definitely wrote it correctly on the envelope. How is this possible?

Now I need my aunt to go pick it up from this woman and then take it by hand to the Criminal records Bureau. As to the marital status certificate? Still no news. Perhaps that's also been lost in the post.
And all the while, JZ is laughing. Afrika. Is nice.

Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Taiwan Immigration

I don't think I've actually told anyone about this yet, but I'm planning to apply for Taiwanese citizenship. In fact, I've already started the process. This, like most visa processes on this fabulous island, is fraught with hurdles, mis-communication, rumour and more communication problems. Also, there are very few resources available online regarding how to do this, or folks who have done it. This is especially so regarding South Africans. North Americans and Brits have an easier time getting info, because there are more of them around. They are a useful starting point, but all things aren't the same for all nationalities, here and in your home country. This has been my journey so far.

For married South Africans (Married to a Taiwanese), the situation is as follows.

You need the following documents to apply for a Certificate of ROC Naturalization Candidature:
1. Application for Certificate of ROC Naturalization Candidature (including two photographs).
2. A legal and valid Alien Residence Certificate or Permanent Residence certificate.
3. An ARC certificate; this is a proof of residence certificate (3 years for JFRV holders, and 5 years for ARC holders) which is actually a piece of paper that you get from the NIA offices.
4. Certificate of arrival and departure dates (Household Registration - HHR - office applies for this on your behalf).
5. Police criminal record certificate issued by the South African Police Services. (Unless you have a JFRV, in which case you only need a police clearance from the Taiwanese police as you would've done that to get your JFRV)
6. Certificates of sufficient property or professional skills to be self reliant; which basically amounts to tax returns for the last year (although some websites say 3 years), obtainable through your employer or the tax offices. For more info on this, see Article 7 of the Enforcement Rules of Nationality Act.
7. Copy of Household registration with completed marriage registration (HHR office applies for this on your behalf).
7.1 If you got married in the ROC (as I did), you need to add a marital status certificate (a document issued by Home Affairs that states you are married, and to whom), translated into Chinese.
8. Certificate of basic language competency (test or 200 hours of sitting in classes). If you're going to do the test you need to apply for it beforehand, and they issue you with a booklet to prepare for it.
9. Certificate fee of NT$200.

Some notes on the above:
The SA Police Clearance certificate and you Marital Status certificate need to be authenticated by the Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa. The Taipei office has this to say about authentication:
1. The document must first be notarized by the High Court. The document must get Apostille - red sticker and green or pink ribbon.
2. It then needs to be authenticated at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
3. The Taipei Liaison Office in the RSA will then authenticate the documentation. Please note: should you be from Cape Town or Bloemfontein, these documents must be notarized by the High Court in Cape Town or Bloemfontein.
4. Authentication fee: R112
Working days: 2 - 3days

This is very inconvenient for the person in SA doing all the leg work for you so I called the Taipei Liaison office to confirm details. I spoke to a wonderful lady, Maya Du Rand, who said:
1. The fee for processing each document is R400 in Pretoria.
2. This fee (only in Pretoria - if you apply at other branches this doesn't apply to you and you have to do the leg work yourself) covers everything. She takes the documents to the High Court and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to be authenticated and then she hands them in at the Taipei Liaison offices where they authenticate the documents for you.
3. Your "agent"/family member can come pick them up and they get sent to you from there. No mess, no fuss.

After you've successfully applied for the Certificate of ROC Naturalization Candidature you take that to the SA Liaison Office in Taipei and cancel your South African citizenship. With that document in hand you take all the above mentioned paperwork again (except the police clearance isn't necessary, unless you left the country in the interim, as they apply for a police clearance cert. from the Taiwanese police) and apply for Naturalization. After a year you apply for a Taiwanese ID Card, and Bob's your uncle.

I'm still in process, so I'll keep the blog updated on any unforseen details etc.