10 more foreigners join elite 'club' of naturalized Taiwanese citizens

10 foreigners given privilege of receiving Taiwanese citizenship without renouncing original nationality


(Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Ten more foreign professionals have been afforded the exclusive privileged of becoming naturalized Taiwanese citizens, while not being forced to relinquish the citizenship of their native lands.

The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday (May 14), announced that 10 more high-level foreign professionals have been granted Taiwanese citizenship without having to renounce their original nationality. Fed up with the slow pace of granting unconditional citizenship to professionals, foreign residents in Taiwan have begun to refer to the handful of foreigners selected for the special exception as a "closed club."

In a break with the recent pattern of selecting octogenarian missionaries, this class of awardees ranged in age from 30 to 50. This group of new citizens included six in the field of education and one each in economics, medicine, agricultural machinery, and culture and arts.

This group's recipients included a 33-year-old Vietnamese woman surnamed Do (杜) who specializes in the integration of business systems such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and big data. She led a team on a project to improve the monitoring system for the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Another recipient was a French businessman identified as Gildas Kernaléguen, who first came to Taiwan in 1992. Kernaléguen has provided professional agricultural machine technology for the Taiwanese soybean industry for many years, which aided Taiwan in achieving a 44 percent market share in Japan.

Over the past two years since an amendment to the Nationality Act took effect, a mere 86 senior foreign professionals, or 0.011 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 2017, 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.

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.