歧視還是把關?荒謬的「境外面談」 新住民的艱難婚姻路|TAHR points out Taiwan’s ridiculous marriage visa interview questions

Taiwan MOFA requires spouses from 21 countries to undergo an incredibly invasive marriage interview to determine whether the marriage is "real." (Photo courtesy of Pexels via NOWnews)


With the increasing prevalence of transnational marriages, the population of new immigrants in Taiwan has reached over 500,000, and the second-generation population has exceeded the one million mark.

They are a new and vital addition to Taiwan’s local community and have an important impact on the enrichment of Taiwan’s diverse culture.


However, when it comes to the issue of the new immigrants, the policy, social and cultural aspects in Taiwan are still not good enough, and many new immigrants are still burdened with discriminatory prejudices and stigmas.


Secretary-General of Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR, 台灣人權促進會) Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔) sat down with 4-Way Voice recently to talk about the human rights issues of new immigrants and the unreasonable regulations of the transnational marriage system.


The lack of understanding of Southeast Asian culture in Taiwanese society has led to many discriminatory and xenophobic situations that have caused many stigmas and grievances to the new immigrants; and in terms of policy, the most troubling thing for the them is the unreasonable regulations in the Nationality Act


Shih recalls that the first major objection to the policy by Taiwan’s new immigrant groups was the “proof of financial resources” requirement in the Nationality Act, which requires foreign spouses applying for naturalization in Taiwan to meet a certain threshold of financial resources.

This was a discriminatory and xenophobic policy, Shih said, adding that many Taiwanese were unable to meet this standard themselves.


In addition, there was an unreasonable requirement in the Nationality Act in the past that required these foreign spouses to give up their original nationality before they could naturalize as Taiwanese before they enter the nationality application process.

This then led to applicants being caught in the dilemma of being stateless, unable to return to their home countries and unable to become citizens in Taiwan, with their human rights violated.


In the past, the Nationality Act also stated that persons who exhibited “undesirable conduct” would be disqualified from naturalization, and the abstract terminology drew criticism from newcomers and human rights groups. These unreasonable regulations were finally amended after protests by various groups.


However, there is another major problem with the current transnational marriage system which violates human rights, and that is the marriage visa interview questions.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) has special transnational marriage regulations for 21 countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia, requiring immigrants through marriage to be interviewed at diplomatic units outside of each country to confirm the “authenticity of the marriage” before coming to Taiwan.


In addition to the ambiguity of the selection criteria in 21 countries, which may be suspected of racial discrimination, this policy, which was originally intended to prevent “sham marriages” and “human trafficking”, is actually implemented by interviewers who ask extremely intimate questions such as “the color of your partner’s underwear” and “how often do you have intercourse.”

If the answers are not satisfactory or consistent, the application may be rejected.


Shih stressed that “many Taiwanese would not be able to pass such an interview on their own.” He added that it is even more impossible for separated couples to pass the interview, which is a discriminatory and unreasonable policy.


He emphasized that Taiwan has always been a place where many new immigrants come to build their second home. Respecting diverse cultures should be to our advantage, Shih said.

He expressed hopes that the government and the public can treat each other from the perspective of cultural equality and mutual respect, think about the absurdity of the policy, and put an end to future incidents that violate human rights.