Taiwan's government aims to simplify residency application procedures to attract more overseas Taiwanese to return. Picture: Returning Taiwanese protest against the red tape preventing them from obtaining an ID card. (File Photo/Chen Junwei)
Christina Liu, the minister of the Council of Economic Planning and Development, acknowledged Jan. 19 that because the Immigration Act imposed strict regulations on foreign-born nationals of the Republic of China trying to register their permanent residence in Taiwan, it was extremely difficult for them to obtain an ROC national identification card. Therefore, Liu had decided to consult experts from related government agencies to study ways to relax the rules.
In Taiwan, granting nationality is based on the principle of "jus sanguinis." In other words, children born to ROC nationals usually acquire citizenship irrespective of their place of birth, and are categorized as "ROC nationals without registered permanent residency in Taiwan."
However, if the children are under 20 years old, irrespective of whether they hold foreign or ROC passports, they can apply for permanent residency and household registration with the National Immigration Agency, as well as the local household registration offices. It takes only 5-7 days to acquire a ROC national ID card.
However, if they are 20 years old or above, they are required to have continuously stayed in Taiwan for more than one year, or 270 days a year for two consecutive years, or 183 days a year for five consecutive years, in order to qualify for permanent residency and household registration.
While the application procedure is shorter, by three years, than the procedure required for naturalization applications (when foreign citizens apply to be Taiwanese citizens), an official at the Ministry of the Interior admitted that the procedure for foreign-born nationals to obtain an ID card was rather cumbersome.
The official said that the Immigration Act, which had been amended in 2009 to relax citizenship procedure for foreign-born Taiwanese nationals below the age of 20, from the previous limit of 12 years old, could be amended again by another extension of the age limit. However, he ruled out a complete removal of the age limit.
On the other hand, Liu suggested that the age limit could be totally removed, adding that, if the parents of foreign-born Taiwanese nationals had their residence registered in Taiwan, they could be granted ROC national ID cards.
She said that as the government is gearing up to attract overseas investments, it should welcome the return of overseas-born children of Taiwanese nationals, and help them acquire household registration certificates and ID cards more easily.
"Even if they are 30 years old, they are still the children of Taiwanese nationals. We should welcome them home, given the slowing population growth rate in Taiwan," Liu said, adding that, otherwise, there could be a waste of human resources.
Christina Liu 劉憶如