TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Over the past two years since an amendment to the Nationality Act took effect, a mere 65 senior foreign professionals, or 0.008 percent of Taiwan's 769,913 foreign residents, have been granted the privilege of receiving Taiwanese citizenship without having to relinquish their original nationality.
In March of last year, the ministry promulgated a regulation as a supplement to an amendment to the Nationality Act (國籍法) passed by the legislature in December of 2016, giving special exemptions and extensions for the requirement that foreign nationals renounce their citizenship before being eligible to become a Taiwanese citizen. Previously, all foreign nationals had to first give up their original citizenship before they could be approved as Taiwanese nationals, a procedure which might turn them into stateless persons if the Taiwanese authorities rejected their applications.
On Wednesday (Dec. 19), the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) announced at a press conference that 52 senior professional foreigners have received the special exemption this year. When added to the 13 who were granted the exclusive privilege, this amounts to 65 people, or 0.008 percent of Taiwan's 769,913 foreign residents, according to the latest statistics by the National Immigration Agency.
At the press conference, Cheng Hsin-wei (鄭信偉) deputy chief of the MOI's Department of Household Registration, said that the 52 high-level foreign professionals who made the grade this year, represented a four fold increase from the 13 recipients last year, reported UDN.
Cheng said among the senior professionals applying for naturalization in Taiwan over the past two years, 32 worked in the field of education. Among them, 29 are university of professors, who come from a wide range of fields, such as linguistics, physics, and statistics.
The nationalities of those who did not have to relinquish their citizenship included foreign professionals from the United States, Malaysia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Finland, among others. The average number of years a highly qualified foreigner had lived in Taiwan before receiving the special exemption was 16 years, while the longest period spent in Taiwan before receiving citizenship was 47 years.
In stark contrast, in the United States, where renunciation of original nationality is not required, the average wait time for a green card holder to receive U.S. Citizenship this year is 10 months, which is actually considered a long period of time compared to the five months it took in 2014, according to immigrationimpact.com. Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services admits 700,000 to 780,000 new citizens, roughly equivalent to the entire population of foreigners in Taiwan.
Cheng said that in order to attract more highly skilled professionals starting from October of this year, the naturalization process for foreigners holding "Plum Blossom" Alien Permanent Residence Certificates (APRC) has been simplified. As of October, the 90 Plum Blossom APRC holders who have yet to apply for citizenship are no longer are required to obtain a recommendation from the agency managing the industry; instead a letter from their employer sent to the National Immigration Agency (NIA) will suffice.