149 foreign professionals naturalized as Taiwanese since 2017

CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

TAIPEI (CNA) — A total of 149 foreign nationals have obtained Taiwanese nationality since the government amended the Nationality Act in December 2016 to recruit and retain top talent from around the world, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said Sunday.

The 149 foreign professionals are from five continents, with 65 specializing in education and 24 in the economic and medical fields. They have helped diversify the development of Taiwan’s industrial and cultural development, the ministry said in a statement.

Among the 149 foreigners granted Taiwanese citizenship are medical professional Thierry Burnouf, a former adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) from France, and investment expert Peter Kurz, a former managing director and head of research at Citigroup Global Markets Taiwan Securities Co.

Others include French businessman Gildas Kernaleguen, who first came to Taiwan in 1992 and established his own agricultural machinery business in 2000, and Karl-Eugen Feifel from Germany, a wind power expert who has played a role in advancing Taiwan’s green energy sector.

According to MOI statistics, the average age of the 149 naturalized Taiwanese citizens is 50, with the most common age bracket 40-44 (28 people).

By nationality, the United States and Malaysia were the two most common countries of origin, with 38 of the naturalized citizens Americans and 37 Malaysians.

The Nationality Act was amended in December 2016 to allow high-caliber foreign professionals in the fields of technology, business, education, culture, art, and sports to obtain Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship without relinquishing their original nationality to attract foreign professionals to Taiwan.