TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic rages across the globe, Taiwan's Employment Gold Card program is offering foreign professionals a new option to live and work in the safe haven that Taiwan has become, with over 1,000 of the cards awarded this year.
On Nov. 23, a Korean-American blogger who goes by the handle “DK the Human” wrote about his experience applying for Taiwan's Gold Card, raising awareness of the relatively new program overseas. In February of 2018, Taiwan launched the Employment Gold Card (就業金卡), its answer to Singapore’s Employment Pass program, to lure foreign professionals in the fields of economy, science and technology, culture and arts, finance, education, architectural design, law, and sports.
The special four-in-one visa combines an open work permit, a resident visa, the Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), and a multiple entry permit.
The advantages are that there is no need to be sponsored by an employer to live in Taiwan. With the Gold Card, one can work for a company or be self-employed, spouses and children are included, parents and grandparents can visit for up to a year, multiple exits and entries are permitted, and tax incentives are provided.
In the two years since the program was launched, 1,500 have received Gold Cards. The program has seen a dramatic spike in applicants since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with 1,000 receiving the special visas in 2020 alone.
For most categories, applicants are required to be specialists in their field and must provide extensive documentation proving their expertise in a given profession. However, the blogger posited that those who apply for the economy field need only demonstrate that they have earned a minimum salary of NT$160,000 (US$5,600) a month, or about US$67,000 per year, at any point in the last three years.
When asked if foreigners can qualify for the economy field solely based on their salary, Grace Kao (高育幸), an official with the National Development Council (NDC), confirmed with Taiwan News that this is indeed the case. She stated that over 60 percent of applicants for all categories received the card thus far.
However, she stated that the income must come must have come in the form of a salary or wage and must be proven with tax documents. For example, American citizens must provide an Internal Revenue Service Wage and Tax Statement (W-2) form showing their reported salary and taxes withheld.
Applicants can opt to apply for durations of one, two, or three years. Kao said that the processing time for Gold Card applications is currently one to two months, but this could become longer if a large number of applicants begins to flood in.
Kao emphasized that all the documentation will be checked for veracity, that any falsified information will result in a rejection, and that the application fee is nonrefundable. She stated that a background check will be run to check for any criminal activity in Taiwan or involvement in terrorist activities abroad.
Applications to renew the card must be made three months in advance. Given the fact that the average monthly salary in Taiwan is far lower than the NT$160,000 per month threshold for the visa, Kao pointed out that those foreigners who earn a wage lower than the official requirement after they move to Taiwan will not be able to renew their Gold Card under the economy category.
Those wishing to apply for Taiwan's Gold Card can do so by visiting the Foreign Professionals Online Application Platform.