TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid a severe shortage in the domestic labor force, the Cabinet on Thursday (Feb. 17) approved plans to enable foreign blue-collar workers to apply for permanent residency as long as certain criteria are met.
During a Cabinet meeting to announce a program to enable foreign mid-level skilled workers to obtain permanent resident status, the Ministry of Labor stated that the rule changes will come in the form of an executive order, without the need for an amendment, and will go into effect in April. When asked by the media why it would not consider enacting the New Economic Immigration Law (新經濟移民法), the MOL stated that the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) and the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent (外國專業人才延攬及僱用法) are already comprehensive, so it is not considering amending any laws for the time being.
An official from the MOL stated that the current plan is to loosen the permanent residency requirements for "intermediate skilled manpower" who have attained a certain level of experience and pay. The requirements include "being skilled in technology, meeting a certain salary level, and working for five years after applying," reported the Liberty Times.
There are two major categories in which blue-collar workers can apply: industry and social welfare. Eligible industry sectors include manufacturing, construction, marine fishing, and agriculture. The social welfare category includes caregivers in long-term care homes, live-in caregivers, and those employed in other designated key national industries, according to CNA.
As for minimum salary requirements, foreigners working in the industry category should make more than NT$33,000 per month or their total annual salary should be more than NT$500,000. For the social welfare category, caregivers in long-term care homes should make more than NT$29,000 per month and live-in caregivers should earn more than NT$24,000 a month.
Low-skilled workers and caregivers must also obtain a work license, accumulate at least 80 hours in training, pass a language proficiency test, and complete 20 hours of vocational training courses. However, workers who receive a monthly salary of NT$35,000 per month or more are exempt from these additional requirements.
Once blue-collar workers in either category have worked as "intermediate skilled manpower" for five years, they may apply for permanent residence in accordance with the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法), but they must earn a monthly gross salary of NT$50,000. Alternatively, they can obtain a Level B professional technician certificate, which can be acquired through authorized government training programs.
In June of last year, the Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of a draft amendment of the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals (外國專業人才延攬及僱用法). Among other incentives, the amendment relaxed the rules for obtaining permanent residence for white-collar "foreign special professionals," but this did not apply to blue-collar workers.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of Taiwan's borders to foreign migrant workers. The number of migrant workers peaked at 719,487 in February 2020 but dropped to 669,992 by December 2021, as the borders had been closed to them due to the surge of local COVID cases that summer.
(Workforce Development Agency image)