New bill seeks to draw 'mid-level' foreign workers to Taiwan with easier APRC

'New Economy Immigration Bill' seeks to attract more 'mid-level' foreign skilled workers to Taiwan with easier access to APRC

(Pixabay image)

(Pixabay image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Cabinet yesterday (Nov. 29) announced a new draft act called the "New Economy Immigration Bill" which seeks to provide more incentives for "mid-level" foreign workers, including easier access to permanent residency, to make up for an annual shortfall of at least 110,000 foreign skilled workers, reported Liberty Times.

The new bill would relax the regulations on permanent residency for "mid-level" skilled talent (中階技術人力), including those who have worked in Taiwan for more than six years, graduated high school, have professional certificates, graduated from overseas technical training courses, or other foreigners with mid-level skills. The wages paid to such workers must not fall below the 70th percentile of the average pay in their profession.

The "New Economy Immigration Bill," which was put forth by the National Development Council (NDC), is aimed at four categories of foreign workers: foreign professionals, foreign mid-level skilled personnel, overseas compatriots, and investment immigrants. Among these groups, the priority will be placed on foreign mid-level technical talent.

According to the draft act, foreign mid-level technical talent includes overseas compatriots, who have at least graduated from senior vocational schools, completed overseas compatriot youth training courses, or have an intermediate technical ability, as well as foreigners who have worked in Taiwan for more than six years. Sunrise provisions will be stipulated for those who fit in these categories and the Cabinet will set an open period and scope at its discretion.

NDC Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said mid-level skilled workers are not migrant workers or blue-collar workers and the draft uses the salary as the employment threshold, which is a monthly wage that is not below the 70th percentile of the average salary in their field. For industrial workers, technicians, assistant professionals, or mechanical operators and assemblers, the monthly salary threshold is NT$41,393 (US$1,343), but for social workers and healthcare workers the monthly salary should match that of long-term caregivers, which is NT$32,000.

The draft also stipulates that mid-level technical personnel should have professional certificates or other certification documents, with annual quotas set for each industry. The draft relaxes the requirements to qualify for an alien permanent residence permit (APRC) in Taiwan for mid-level workers, changing the requirement of living in the country from a minimum of 183 days per year in Taiwan in each of five consecutive years, to an average of 183 days per year within five consecutive years.

An early version of the draft also stipulated that the law would apply to Hong Kong and Macau residents, however, some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators expressed reservations because they feared some Chinese white-collar workers would take advantage of their status in those areas and game the system to obtain permanent residence in Taiwan by claiming to be mid-level workers. In order to avoid disputes over this provision, it was shelved until after the election.

The latest version of the bill removed the provision "this law applies to residents of Hong Kong and Macau." Chen said the application of the law to residents of Hong Kong and Macau would be determined by existing legal provisions.

Citing a survey conducted by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics in February, Deputy Minister of Labor Shih Keh-her (施克和) said that out of the total shortfall of 244,000 in manpower in the country, the largest shortage was in mid-level skill workers at 110,000 last year.