TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Popular Turkish comedian and TV host Ugur Rifat Karlova (吳鳳), completed the process of becoming a Taiwanese citizen by receiving his Taiwan National ID card and naturalization certificate yesterday (March 21).
Under the new Standards for Defining High-Level Professionals for Naturalization (歸化國籍之高級專業人才認定標準) passed in March of last year, Rifat, 37, was able to become naturalized as a Taiwanese citizen while not having to relinquish his Turkish citizenship as the new law provides a special exemption to foreign nationals with unique talents in technology, economics, education, sports, culture and arts, and other areas. According to the government, 13 foreign professionals were naturalized under the new standards last year and 10 have become citizens so far this year, representing a meager total of 23 since the regulation into effect.
By law, most foreign nationals who wish to become Taiwanese citizens must first relinquish the citizenship of their country of origin, which in the past led to some becoming stateless individuals if their application was denied or delayed. However, in December of 2016 the government changed the guidelines under the Nationality Act to allow them to show proof of having relinquished their original citizenship after having been approved for a Taiwanese passport.
Rifat's wife (left), Rifat (center), and Yang (right) pose together with special edition EasyCard.
Rifat has been entertaining Taiwanese audiences with his unique sense of humor and Mandarin language ability. He has been living in Taiwan for 12 years, has a Taiwanese wife and daughter and is a host of the Taiwanese the popular television travel show iWalker (愛玩客) and can also be found on his youtube channel online.
The Taiwan National ID card and naturalization certificate was presented to Rifat by National Immigration Agency (NIA) Director-General Jeff J. Yang (楊家駿), who thanked the travel TV show host for his efforts at introducing and promoting Taiwanese culture and tourism.
In 2012, Rifat became the first foreign national to win the prestigious Golden Bell Award (Taiwan's equivalent to the Emmy Awards) for his work as a host of the TV show iWalker. Rifat is also a stand up comedian and has performed over 100 shows in Mandarin.
Rifat (left) takes photo with his wife, Yang and NIA staff who helped him through the naturalization process.
Thanks to his travel show, many Turks have expressed interest in traveling to and investing in Taiwan. In order to help Taiwanese better understand his motherland of Turkey, he has written the book titled "Invitation Letter from Taiwan" (來自土耳其的邀請函), which was published just last month and introduces many aspects of Turkey's geography and culture.
Rifat expressed hope that Turks and Taiwanese can have more interaction and get to know each other, as he says "Everyone is an ambassador for his country."