‘Come and work here’

By Christine Chou, The China Post

To encourage more foreign talent to work in Taiwan, the Cabinet passed a draft bill Thursday that would significantly relax restrictions and improve the working environment for foreign professionals in Taiwan. The bill, called the “Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent,” still requires approval from the Legislative Yuan.

The bill would apply to all foreign skilled workers, extending to those from Hong Kong and Macau but not mainland China. Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said the act was critical in boosting Taiwan’s global competitiveness. Faced with a rapidly graying population, Taiwan has followed in Japan’s footsteps toward opening its doors wider to foreign immigrants. Last year, more than 724,000 Taiwanese went to work abroad, while around 30,000 foreign workers came for employment in Taiwan. “This would help to attract and retain international talent, and we will continue to think of ways to relax laws to make it easier for foreign professionals to come to Taiwan,” Lin said in a statement. “The National Development Council and concerned units will proactively communicate with legislative caucuses from all party lines to push for the passage of the law as soon as possible,” he added.

Law Promises to End ‘double tax’ Major changes to be introduced include the axing of a six-month waiting period for health insurance — foreign residents and their spouses and children would be able to immediately enjoy insurance coverage. In addition, foreign skilled workers earning more than NT$2 million in annual pay would be eligible for a 50-percent income tax cut for the first three years and foreign income will be exempt from basic income tax in Taiwan. The family visit visa for immediate family members would be extended from six months to a year per application. Permanent residents and white-collar workers would also be given the choice of taking their pension in monthly payments instead of in a lump-sum payout. If the law passes, foreign teaching permits will be issued by the Ministry of Education rather than the Ministry of Labor, and cram schools — privately owned education enterprises — could temporarily hire art and culture teachers. Artists and cultural workers could apply for individual work permits themselves, rather than through an employer.

Workers with designated occupations could stay for up to five years, rather than three. Also, the bill would scrap regulations requiring permanent residents to stay in Taiwan for more than 183 days per year to maintain their residency status.

Job-hunting Visa Borrowing from similar methods used in Singapore and the United Kingdom, the draft bill would introduce a six-month “job hunting visa” to make seeking employment in Taiwan easier for overseas foreign professionals.

To be eligible for the job-hunting visa, skilled professionals are required to present documents that prove they were paid a monthly salary of over NT$47,971 in their previous job. Fresh graduates who did not have full-time work experience must fulfill criteria proposed by the Ministry of Education, such as being a graduate from one of the top 500 universities in the world.