AIT will not move to new Neihu compound by year-end

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A recently-implemented rule that requires applicants for U.S. visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers, will not affect most Taiwanese travelers to the U.S. who visit the country visa-free, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said on June 2. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto embassy of the United States, is unlikely to move to its new compound in Taipei’s Neihu District by the end of this year due to administrative delays, an AIT spokeswoman said Saturday.

“AIT is eager to move to our new location in Neihu,” Amanda Mansour said in a statement.

But “due to administrative delays, we will not be able to begin operating (out of the Neihu compound) before the end of the year,” Mansour said. “Until our move is complete, we will continue operating out of our current location on Xinyi Road.” AIT held a dedication ceremony in June for the new Neihu complex, construction of which was nearly completed.

The ceremony was attended by Marie Royce, U.S. assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, who said the 14,934-square-meter, five-story complex represented a symbol of the strength of bilateral ties between Washington and Taipei.

In October, AIT Taipei Director Brent Christensen said that AIT was still waiting for final certification for the new compound.

“We continue to work with our colleagues in Washington to expedite the final steps of this process,” Mansour said. “We are grateful to the Taiwan authorities for all of their support thus far.” The spokeswoman said that once the relocation is completed, AIT will inform the public through the press and social media, but she did not give an exact timeframe about the relocation.

AIT is a private entity established in 1979 to manage unofficial U.S. relations with Taiwan following the severance of diplomatic ties when Washington established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

To meet growing demand, AIT rented the site in Neihu from the Taipei City government for 99 years in 2004. The new office compound is built on a 6.5-hectare hillside site.

While the current AIT main compound is located on Xinyi Road in Taipei’s Daan District to engage in affairs such as visa issuance, its agricultural division, and the American Cultural Center are located elsewhere.

The new Neihu complex will eventually accommodate all AIT operations.

By Elaine Hou and Frances Huang