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Ghanaian woman overstays visa in Taiwan for 34 years

Woman arrived in Taiwan on tourist visa in June 1989, when Lee Teng-hui held office

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Ghanaian woman being arrested by police on Oct. 14. (Facebook, Luzhou Police Station photo)

Ghanaian woman being arrested by police on Oct. 14. (Facebook, Luzhou Police Station photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Ghanaian woman was apprehended by police last week after managing to overstay her visa by 34 years and now faces deportation.

While on patrol at 7 a.m. on Oct. 14, police encountered a female foreign national waiting under a covered walkway outside 219 Zhongshan 1st Road in New Taipei City's Luzhou District, reported Luzhou Precinct. When officers asked her to present an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) or passport, she could not understand Mandarin and communicated with gestures.

Consequently, officers took her to the National Immigration Agency (NIA) to have her fingerprints scanned and it was discovered that she had overstayed her visa for 34 years. She was then taken to the Luzhou Police Station and during questioning, she insisted that she had the legal right to reside in Taiwan, but she could not explain how it was possible since she left the country in 1990.

Ghanaian woman overstays visa in Taiwan for 34 years
Ghanaian woman being questioned by police on Oct. 14. (Facebook, Luzhou Police Station photo)

Following police questioning, she was transferred to a shelter operated by the NIA's New Taipei service center, where she is being detained in accordance with the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The police station indicated that she would be deported by saying in a Facebook post "May you take beautiful memories with you as you return to your original home."

According to a police investigation, the 63-year-old Ghanaian woman arrived in Taiwan via Hong Kong on a tourist visa in June 1989, when former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was in office. Although there was a record of her leaving the country in March 1990, she continued to stay in Taiwan for unknown reasons, thus exceeding her permitted stay by 34 years.

During her stay in Taiwan, she managed to make a living by taking on jobs, often with the help of friends. She claimed to be residing in Taoyuan City but was unwilling to disclose the exact location of her rental apartment.