TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A new bill to allow foreign artists and performers to apply for a work visa for themselves without sponsorship from a prospective employer has been submitted by the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan, the Ministry of Labor announced on Tuesday.
The new bill gained momentum after a British sound artist, Simon Whetham, who had been invited by Taiwanese artists to participate on field recordings in exchange for free accommodations, was found to be in violation of the current labor law and was suddenly forced to cut his stay short as a result.
Taiwanese artists Yeh Yu-jun (葉育君) and Cheng Ching-hsin (鄭晴心) had helped Whetham to receive visa-free entry into the country to lead forums on his methods of creating undersea recording equipment with low-cost materials. Whetham, who had arrived on June 28, had planned to stay for 90 days, however less than a month into his trip, someone reported him as being illegally employed, according to Yeh.
Whetham had been found to be in violation of Article 46 of the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) because he was offered free accommodations by Yeh, technically a form of payment under the current law, and now Yeh faces a fine of NT$150,000 to NT$750,000. Whetham had originally been provided visa-free entry to the country as a tourist.
Under the current law, when a foreign artist provides a service to an employer, with or without compensation, they can be deemed as working for an employer and therefore must apply for work permits or face a penalty.
In an effort to encourage recruitment and hiring of foreign professionals in Taiwan, the Cabinet is pushing a draft bill to ease regulations on visas, work permits, taxes and residency for white-collar workers, according to Su Yu-kuo (蘇裕國), an official of the ministry's Workforce Development Agency as reported by CNA. The draft bill will include a provision for foreign artists to apply for work permits themselves without the assistance of prospective employers, said Su.