Taiwan to introduce amnesty program for overstaying foreigners

By Phan Anh   January 7, 2019 | 02:43 pm GMT+7
Taiwan to introduce amnesty program for overstaying foreigners
Men work at a construction site in Tamsui, New Taipei, Taiwan, July 20, 2018. Photo by Shutterstock/Patcharaporn Puangsombat

Taiwan plans a February-June amnesty program for overstaying foreign nationals including Vietnamese, offering reduced fines and shortened reentry bans.

The plan was announced Sunday by Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA), the Central News Agency reported.

The program is a measure to deal with the rising number of foreign nationals overstaying their visas in Taiwan, NIA director general Chiu Feng-kuang said at a press conference. The number had reached 88,000 as of last October, he said.

The five-month program would allow beneficiaries to pay a maximum fine of NT$2,000 ($65) and a shortened re-entry ban "compared with detention" should they report to authorities within the grace period. There would also be no mandatory detention for those who chose to approach the authorities, said Chiu.

For those who fail to do so, a maximum fine of NT$10,000 and a re-entry ban of eight years await.

Overstaying foreign nationals are also encouraged to report to authorities about brokers and employers who hire illegal workers in Taiwan, the NIA has said. The brokers and employers will be made to pay for the illegal workers’ departure flights and face legal actions, it added.

Most of the overstaying foreign nationals in Taiwan are migrant workers, according to the NIA. As of last November, there were 51,892, of whom 24,267 were Vietnamese.

The amnesty program’s announcement follows a bizarre incident of 152 Vietnamese tourists ‘vanishing’ in Taiwan last month. Some of them admitted to have tried to work in Taiwan illegally after they were apprehended by Taiwanese authorities.

As of Sunday, 104 of the tourists were still missing, said Chiu. They would not be eligible for the upcoming amnesty program, he added.

In recent years, Taiwan has emerged as a promising destination for Vietnamese workers looking for jobs overseas. Vietnam sent 65,000 workers to Taiwan last year, accounting for nearly half of all workers sent overseas.

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