Visitors must leave before visas expire amid anti-virus fight

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Holders of a visitor visa or landing visa are required to leave the country before their visa expires other than in cases of force majeure as Taiwan intensifies its efforts to combat the new coronavirus, the government announced Wednesday.

Visas will not be extended at this extraordinary time, Phoebe Yeh (葉非比), chief of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said at a press conference, clarifying that force majeure refers to large scale natural disasters or when a foreign national has a serious illness.

The coronavirus outbreak in the foreign national’s home country is not considered force majeure, she stressed.

However, the Taiwan government will also make exceptions if a foreign national’s home country is under lockdown and the individual is unable to return home, or there are no available flights, Yeh said.

Another exception is if a foreign national is under quarantine in Taiwan, Yeh said.

In addition, foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Taiwan using a visitor visa or landing visa beginning 12 a.m. March 19, except for those who hold Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs), or documents proving they are in Taiwan for diplomatic or other official purposes or to fulfill business contracts, as well as those who have received special permits, she said.

Documents proving a foreign national is in Taiwan for diplomatic or other official purposes include a diplomatic passport, diplomatic ID card or papers that can prove a foreign national is invited by Taiwan’s government, Yeh said.

Foreign nationals who need to visit Taiwan to fulfill business contracts have to provide proof from their business partners in Taiwan, which must be companies duly recognized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) or relevant agencies, she added.

Meanwhile, according to an information sheet provided by MOFA, foreign nationals on flights that took off before 12 a.m. Taiwan time on March 19 will be allowed to enter the country.

In addition, foreign nationals can make a special request at Taiwan embassies or representative offices to visit Taiwan for humanitarian reasons, but such requests will be subject to approval, according to the ministry.

The spouse and minor children of an ARC holder in Taiwan can also request a visit at Taiwan embassies or representative offices, it said.

As to migrant workers, they can enter Taiwan as long as they present permits from Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor (MOL) and a Work Visa issued by a Taiwan embassy or representative office, the information sheet said.

Foreign nationals and migrant workers who are allowed to enter Taiwan need to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, it said.

MOFA said diplomats and foreign representatives in Taiwan have been informed of the new travel restrictions, adding that necessary adjustments will be made depending on the development of the coronavirus outbreak.