Foreign student thanks Taiwan after being called back home

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TAIPEI (The China Post) — Many foreign students are now scrambling to find ways to extend their visas which was canceled as a result of the Central Epidemic Command Center’s announcement on March 18.

As the number of infection cases has continued to surge worldwide, many U.S. universities have sent emails to students abroad and asking them to return home for their own safety, although many of them have expressed the desire to remain in Taiwan.

Karen is one of them. She reached to The China Post and asked for assistance regarding the sudden turn of events.

The student from California previously studied in an exchange program at the National Taiwan University (NTU). She was alerted by her school on March 19 that the program was being terminated on March 21 without further notice.

As her student visa would be invalid on the same date, she asked for options in extending her stay in Taiwan, for she believed that returning home to Level 3 risk California could increase her chances of contracting the virus.

The China Post contacted the National Immigration Agency (NIA) on her behalf but was told that if the school is unwilling or unable to issue a new certification verifying and providing Karen a new student status, the NIA would not be able to extend her ARC.

As exchange students cannot change their status in Taiwan, there was not much she could do. The student told The China Post that she had been in Taiwan since fall 2019 with an ARC valid until March 21, 2020.

A week earlier, she received a group call from her home university informing her to immediately leave Taiwan with no exceptions allowed.

Upon learning the news, Karen and her classmates rushed to coordinate their de-registration process, including removal from dormitories, flight booking, and ensuring future classes could be taken online.

A group flight was announced just 2.5 days after the announcement and many students who had been in Taiwan for 7 plus months, packed their bags overnight and left within 3 days.

“We are returning to almost certain lockdown situations in home counties/districts,” Karen said.

Although a new policy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on March 21 granted an automatic 30-day visa extension to foreign nationals who entered the country on or before March 21, the student sadly, ran out of time to change her plans.

Though saddened by her situation, she expressed her gratitude to Taiwan.

“To Taiwan, I would just like to say thank you for all kindness and consideration shown these past few months, and that if there’s anyone you can still save from these risks by allowing them to peacefully stay and continue studies here, please hear them out. “

*names have been changed to respect the student’s privacy