TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Thai man was apprehended by police last month after managing to overstay his visa by nearly 18 years, and he faces deportation and up to NT$50,000 (US$1,500) in fines.
In September, Taichung police pulled over a Thai man riding a scooter because he appeared to be nervous and deliberately attempting to evade an officer, reported SET News. After being repeatedly asked about his visa status by an officer, he admitted that his passport had expired and he did not have a residence permit.
He claimed that had tried to resolve the issue with immigration authorities, but it was never rectified. When police took him to the National Immigration Agency (NIA), his fingerprints were scanned and it was discovered that he had overstayed his visa for over 6,500 days.
Lien Chen-wei (連振維), a police officer from the Liren Police Station of the Taichung City Police Department Second Precinct, was cited by the news agency as stating that at about 2 p.m. on Sept. 21, he saw a man in a blue shirt riding a scooter in front of Taichung Municipal Chungming Senior High School on Jianxing Road in the city's North District.
When Lien stopped the man, although he was a foreign national, he found that he could speak fluent Mandarin. The 41-year-old man told Lien that he was from Thailand and had been in Taiwan for a long time, but had no identification documents.
The man claimed that he once went to the NIA to inquire about his status, but there were not any follow-up actions taken by the agency. He said that he decided that if he felt like returning to his home country, he would report his situation to authorities, but in the meantime, he decided to avoid trouble by refraining from engaging in any unlawful activities.
In his day-to-day life, he said that he would rely on his sister, who is married to a Taiwanese citizen, for support and made a living by doing odd jobs.
Upon hearing this account, Lien felt his explanation was rather odd and directly asked him, "Are you an illegal immigrant." As the man had no identification papers, he was taken to the NIA's Specialized Operations Brigade for questioning, as per regulations.
After multiple checks were conducted, it was confirmed from older records that the man had overstayed in Taiwan for a staggering 6,560 days, the equivalent to 17 years, 11 months, and two weeks ago, which was Oct. 5, 2005, when former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in office. He was subsequently placed in detention by the special unit while awaiting deportation.
The Second Precinct stated that on May 30 of this year, the Legislative Yuan passed several amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). Among the changes, the fines for foreign nationals who overstay in the country would increase from the previous range of NT$2,000 to NT$10,000 to a heavier range of NT$10,000 to NT$50,000.
In addition, those breaking the regulations will be barred from reentering the country for a maximum of seven years, up from three years.
Police called on foreign citizens who have overstayed their visas in Taiwan to take the initiative to approach the specialized units in their respective jurisdictions or judicial police agencies to express their willingness to leave the country. They also advised Taiwanese citizens not to engage in illegal employment, brokering, or harboring foreign nationals who have exceeded their stay in the country.