An onboarding booklet that navigates you through daily life in Taiwan is also the work of the Gold Card Office. “For newcomers to Taiwan, simple tasks such as where to take the trash can be confusing. We compiled FAQs and completed this onboarding booklet. You can find all sorts of information here, even which online shopping websites to visit,” said Jonathan Liao, project director of the Taiwan Employment Gold Card Office.
Launched in 2018, the Taiwan Employment Gold Card is a 4-in-1 card that includes a resident visa, work permit, Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), and re-entry permit. As of 2021, skilled professionals from over 62 countries have applied for the Gold Card.
Taiwan is becoming ever more popular with expats, ranking first out of 59 destinations for the third year in a row, in a poll by Expat Insider.
However, foreigners in Taiwan encounter a myriad of small difficulties, including ordering food with basic Mandarin skills, renting an apartment, and finding a proper job. Jonathan Liao, project director of the Taiwan Employment Gold Card Office, has been lending a hand to foreigners.
Liao has considerable cross-cultural experience, making him the perfect fit for a position at the Gold Card Office. Prior to his tenure there, Liao founded FutureWard, a co-working space dedicated to foreign start-ups.
“During that time, I helped foreign start-up co-founders in Taiwan to take care of their visas and also played a role in helping them navigate their new lives in Taiwan. That is when I saw the importance of providing an integrated information platform,” said Liao.
The Employment Gold Card Office, founded by the National Development Council (NDC), serves as a single point of contact for questions about the program and its application process. The NDC got in touch with Liao, appointing him project director to promote the Gold Card scheme, which aims to bring in high-caliber foreign talent.
The Gold Card Office serves as a one-stop service for foreigners who want to apply for the Gold Card visa. Applicants can get in touch with the office, which acts as a bridge between the Taiwanese government and visa applicants.
The office smooths out the application process, as culture and communication nuances can arise. There is also a “Gold Card Community” for all cardholders to take part in.
Private dinners are held, as well as happy hour sessions in which participants can exchange their feelings about being a newcomer in Taiwan. On a more educational level, Gold Card holders can attend tax workshops and Chinese lessons to help them prepare better for their brand new lives in Taiwan.
An onboarding booklet that navigates you through daily life in Taiwan is also the work of the Gold Card Office. “For newcomers to Taiwan, simple tasks such as where to take the trash can be confusing. We compiled FAQs and completed this onboarding booklet. You can find all sorts of information here, even which online shopping websites to visit,” said Liao.
Drawn to Taiwan
Since launching the Gold Card in 2018, the government has issued more than 3,000 cards — the majority of which are for skilled professionals in fields such as science and technology, arts and culture, law, economy, finance, education, architecture, and sports.
As a serial entrepreneur with his eyes set on Taiwan’s steady stream of software talents, US attorney Neil Peretz applied for an Employment Gold Card in 2020. Peretz and his family moved to Taiwan and arranged for his children to attend public schools in the country.
During the pandemic, Catherine Chou, an assistant professor of early modern British history at Grinnell College in the United States, came to Taiwan. Together with seven other Taiwanese Americans, including Gold Card holders, they raised US$50,000 to help out five local social welfare groups. Chou is now planning to get a Taiwan ID card.
A recent survey showed that 97% of Gold Card holders enjoyed living in Taiwan. Though already a remarkably high satisfaction rating, Jonathan Liao and the Gold Card Office are looking for ways to improve further.
Among the top complaints of cardholders are “opening bank accounts” and “language barriers.” Newcomers are often frustrated when payments cannot be completed with their go-to online payment accounts, such as Stripe.
To solve this problem, Liao said they have set up a working group to sort out the hassles. By keeping in touch with Gold Card holders through the Gold Card Office, suggestions are taken to make further improvements.
“Our next step focuses on solving problems such as troubleshooting opening of bank accounts, sorting out the requirements of business registration, and making more available spaces for the enrollment of cardholders’ offspring at bilingual schools,” said Liao.
More to come
In 2021, more than 1,300 gold cards were issued, continuing the upward trend from 2020. In 2019, only 358 cards were issued. The sharp increase is partly a result of the pandemic, during which people fled to Taiwan because it was relatively safe to live and work in.
“In 2021, though application numbers dropped in May and June due to the COVID outbreak in Taiwan, the momentum picked up once again in August,” said Liao. In a nutshell, the upward trend proves that Taiwan is a place with great advantages.