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.