In Taiwan, the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals has generated a lot of interest among human resources professionals and employment lawyers, as well as businesses. The aim of the law is to encourage foreign talent to live and work in Taiwan by removing some of the obstacles foreign workers face.
The act covers a wide range of aspects necessary for living and working in Taiwan, including immigration and visa rules, residency, healthcare, and pensions. It also provides tax breaks and other incentives to make Taiwan a more attractive place for foreign professionals to live and work. Many long-standing, and often complained about, regulations have been relaxed, including work permit lengths and the length of time foreign professionals must stay in the country in order to qualify for or retain their residency. The act has also introduced several new mechanisms to help foreign professionals work in Taiwan.
Of most consequence to job seekers, Taiwan now provides an Employment-Seeking Visa that allows entry into the country for up to six months. Applicants must meet one of the following requirements to be granted this visa:
- Documented work experience with an average salary over the past six months that exceeds TWD 47,791 (USD 1,500 : GBP 1,200 : Euro 1,300)
- Graduation from one of the top 500 universities in the world (as defined by the Ministry of Education)
Applicants must also provide an employment-seeking plan, proof of funds, and sufficient health insurance to cover their stays in Taiwan until they find employment. Employment-Seeking Visas can be converted to residency once the applicant has found a job in Taiwan, and they simplify the process for businesses hiring foreign professionals who enter Taiwan on this type of visa.
Certain categories of foreign professionals are now able to apply for work permits with a limit of five years (up from three years). This change benefits businesses because they are required to apply for permits on behalf of employees, thus reducing churn and lowering the administrative burden. Foreign nationals who have worked in Taiwan for five consecutive years qualify for permanent residency.
Foreign Special Professionals
A new category of foreign worker has been created that provides enhanced benefits for qualifying individuals. The government has designated eight areas of expertise to attract what it calls “foreign special professionals.” These areas are science and technology, economics, education, culture and arts, sports, finance, law, and architectural design. While each area has its own requirements (for example, winning a Grammy or a BRIT award will qualify you in the culture and arts category), all require either significant experience or, in lieu of that, previous or current monthly salary of at least TWD 160,000 (USD 5,200 : GBP 4,000 : Euro 4,500).
Previously, only permanent residents who were married to Taiwanese nationals could choose to be enrolled in the pension program under the Labor Pension Act. Now, any permanent resident, regardless of marital status, can have his or her pension transferred to the new program. Employers of permanent residents must be aware of this change and assist employees in choosing the right pension program for them.
Overall, the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals should have a positive impact on the hiring of foreign nationals in Taiwan. A new website listing all the relevant requirements has information in both Chinese and English. This is an essential tool for HR professionals who are responsible for providing updates, administrative interpretations, and details of other requirements regarding Taiwan.
Written by Christine Chen of Winkler Partners and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins