Activists campaign for better rights protection for divorced foreign spouses in Taiwan

Several rights groups held a joint press conference yesterday to continue urging Immigration to amend current laws

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(Photo by Yunlin County Government)

(Photo by Yunlin County Government)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Current laws regarding immigration, emigration, and the rights of new immigrants continue to be criticized by activist groups on human rights grounds.

Yesterday (Dec. 18), on International Immigration Day, The Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants, Legal Aid Foundation, and Taiwan International Student Movement jointly held a press conference entitled, “Divorce should not mean abandonment, where are the rights of immigrants?” The conference called into question current legal protections offered to new immigrants, which do not allow alien divorcees to remain in the country under many circumstances.

The National Immigration Agency issued a press statement in response, remarking that in order to safeguard the human rights of new immigrants, the agency will continue to carry out amendments to current immigration laws. Before amendments are complete, immigrants finding themselves within this particular dilemma can contact the department for assistance, it also read.

The agency pointed out that in 2007, the government amended provisions of Article 31 of the Immigration Act to relax residency restrictions on foreign spouses after divorce under particular circumstances. These include foreign divorcees with custody rights, and those with minors in cases of domestic violence.

It added that anyone who has legally resided in Taiwan and raised a child there can request a visitor visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in turn, apply for an ARC at the National Immigration Agency, which does guarantee the rights of foreign mothers and minors.

Activists, however, are campaigning for foreign spouses who obtain a no-fault divorce to maintain their residency rights. There are currently still many legal gray areas for when Taiwanese citizens divorce foreign spouses under questionable circumstances, such as the inability to conceive a child.