The alternative titles for this post were “My Journey to Becoming a Permanent Alien” and “Permanent Alienship.” However, I decided to stick with some practical and direct, because I want to save every other American out there time and money in the processing of getting an APRC, or Alien Permanent Resident Certificate. I spent 6 months doing a lot of research and paper work, and my process ended up being EASIER and even involved LESS STEPS than some of the blogs and other resources I found suggested.
So here we go: this is for all fellow Americans who want to apply for permanent alien residency here in Taiwan (the closest I’ll ever get to dual citizenship!) May you find this post extremely informative and helpful.
First of all, here are some useful facts, just in case you’re super confused about aliens and Taiwan right now:
Having a job here in Taiwan as a foreigner gets you an ARC (Alien Resident Certificate). Companies usually issue this out to be good for a year, and if you stay longer than that year you need to renew it, which will keep your ARC going. (Some companies will issue ARCs that are good for 2 years or more.) If you keep the same ARC (with the same ARC number) for 5 consecutive years and stay in Taiwan for more than 183 days a year during that 5-year period, AND you made more than 450,720NT on your most recent tax statement, you can apply for the APRC (Alien Permanent Resident Certificate).
What are the benefits? Every year, you need to go in and get a health check and collect paper work to renew your ARC. The APRC does not need to be renewed! Ever! (I’m honestly not super clear on the requirements of maintaining the APRC, but I will definitely do my research and update everyone on that. For now, this post is about GETTING one.) The APRC also no longer ties you down to the company that is providing your ARC. This means more freedom and flexibility in the employment opportunities. The APRC also does not require the annual health check which the ARC does. With APRC in hand, you are free to travel, work, study, do nothing. You can just live here, granted you have the money to fund your life, of course.
And now for the meat of this article, broken down in nice little chunks, each one titled with bold lettering for clarity and entertainment purposes.
WHEN CAN YOU APPLY?
Many sources suggested this as the very first thing to do. I, however, already had an idea of when my ARC would hit the 5-year mark, so I acted accordingly. By accordingly, I mean that I wanted to apply for my APRC as soon as possible, not another few months after I become eligible. My eligibility for application commenced August 25 of this year. You can find out when your ARC hits the 5 year mark simply by going up to the information counter at the Immigration Office (you don’t need to take a number). Ask when, present them with your ARC, and they will provide you with a date and very useful document you can use as checklist for all the other documents you will need. You might also be able to make a phone call, but then you won’t get that oh-so-useful and current document. 😉
HOW MUCH IS IT?
10,000NT. It’s true: money can buy your permanent alienship here in Taiwan.
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED FOR APPLICATION?
I hate paperwork, so I’m going to write this next section as clearly as possible in the most simple of terms for anyone else out there who hates paperwork and becomes easily overwhelmed with an array forms and applications they’re suddenly required to fill out. Here is what you will need:
1) THE APPLICATION FORM
This is easily required at the Immigration Office and takes 5 minutes to fill out (10 minutes, if you’re super slow and paranoid about filling out official government like I am). It’s the same exact application you have to fill out every year to renew your ARC. But this time, you get to check the APRC box! If you would like to fill it out in advance, it’s available for download here. All such applications can be found on the National Immigration Agency’s Website.
2) A PICTURE
If you’ve already been living in Taiwan and going through the ARC renewal motions, you know what picture I’m talking about. The passport photos that you can get done in a shop or at a photo booth. Just make sure it’s recent – that is, it’s been taken in the 6 months prior to applying. Photo booths will spit out 8 of these babies for 150NT. You only need one for the application!
3) YOUR ARC: THE ORIGINAL AND A PHOTOCOPY ON A4-SIZE PAPER
I photocopied both sides, just to be safe. The Immigration Office does have a B&W copy machine that charges 2NT a copy for your convenience. This is where I did all my photocopying.
4) YOUR PASSPORT: THE ORIGINAL AND A PHOTOCOPY OF THE BASIC INFO PAGE, AS WELL AS EVERY PAGE WITH A ENTRY AND EXIT STAMP.
I basically photocopied every page of my passport and handed it in. They want copies of any visas or anything in there that are related to Taiwan as well. Just photocopy all of it. It’s only 2NT a copy! Pretty much every page in my passport was splattered with Taiwan.
5) FBI REPORT
I’m calling it an FBI report here because that is what your “national level criminal history report” is called in the case of America. The FBI makes it really easy to obtain as well. All the steps are outlined out on the website: www.myfbireport.com. It’s all there. Get this going first; also take note that this process can only be done IN AMERICA, that is – within our beautiful country’s borders. However, the good news is that this process only takes 1-2 months, contrary to what many sources basically said would take up to 6. You yourself do not need to be in America, but you’ll have to have someone on ground there helping you with the footwork I will now explain below.
a. fingerprinting. Part of the application process for your FBI report is getting your fingerprints done. This is actually a very simple thing to do here in Taiwan. Simply download and print out the Standard FBI Fingerprint Form, officially known as the FD-258 on card-stock like paper. (This form is available for download on www.myfbireport.com.)
The Immigration Office provides professional fingerprinting services! (I would recommend NOT trying to do your prints yourself.) Simply go down to the basement and walk up to the counter that is labeled “Fingerprinting” or something close. No line up and no need to take a number. For a fee of 100NT, they will register you and do your prints.
b. authentication. As the website explains, your FBI report can only be sent to a U.S. address. My report came back within a month. Now you need to have the report AUTHENTICATED BY THE TECRO OFFICE IN WASHINGTON DC. TECRO (Taipei Economic & Cultural Representative Office).
step 2: Send the COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM, your FBI REPORT, a 15USD MONEY ORDER (personal checks are not accepted; I can tell you from experience that they will send it back) and self-addressed and stamped envelope to the following address:
4201 Wisconsin AVE. NW
Washington, DC., 20016
The TECRO office will send your FBI REPORT back within 2 weeks time. You will notice a colorful seal/sticker thing on the back of it. Congratulations! That means it’s been authenticated and can now be accepted by the Taiwan government!
If you DO NOT have a criminal record in the USA, you DO NOT need to have your FBI REPORT translated. Also note that your FBI REPORT is only good for 6 months.
6) THE TAIWAN BACKGROUND CHECK
This is officially known as a CCRD (Clean Criminal Record Document) that is issued by Taiwan. Please note that your criminal record must be clean. This process takes even less time than the FBI report: 2-5 days! Contrary to what all blogs and sources and were telling me, YOU DO NOT NEED TO TRAVEL ALL THE WAY TO TAIZHONG TO GET THIS!
Simply go to the Taipei City Police Department, address: No. 96 Yanping S. Rd, Zhongzheng Dist,. Taipei City 100. If you’ve ever filed your taxes in Taiwan, which you probably have if you’re reading this for the sake of getting your ARC, the the police building is right around that same area on that big road right next to Ximending. You can visit their website here, and here’s a picture of the building, just as it is on Google Maps (Take note that the address is a little funky, even though it’s the one they provide), for the clearest communication possible:
Office hours for obtaining your CCRD are 8:30-17:00.
As soon as you walk into the building you’ll see the signs and the desks and the application forms AND the volunteers all put there for your current purpose. BRING YOUR ARC AND PASSPORT. You can fill out the application there or fill it out ahead of time by downloading it here. The process literally takes less than 10 minutes and costs 100NT. You can go back the very next business day to pick it up OR, for an extra 26NT, have it mailed to your house. In that case you’ll have the document within the next 3 business days.
7) YOU DO NOT NEED A HEALTH CERTIFICATE OR DO ANOTHER HEALTH CHECK IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN OUT OF TAIWAN FOR MORE THAN 3 MONTHS.
If you leave Taiwan for more than 3 months, then you’ll need to go through that process again, which you should be more than familiar with by now if you are or have ever been an ARC holder.
8) A RECENTLY ISSUED EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATE + A PHOTOCOPY FROM THE COMPANY OR SCHOOL YOU WORK FOR
By recent here, I mean it needs to be no more than a month old. I asked my boss about this, because the the most recent one was issued to me in April. She printed me out another one, and I brought in both just in case but actually only ended up using the new one. Ask your workplace about this to make sure you can a recent certificate of employment. You DO NOT need more than one employment certificate, just the most recent one from your current place of employment.
9) YOUR MOST RECENT TAX STATEMENT + A PHOTOCOPY
This is that blue piece of paper you should have received when you filed your taxes in April or May or March. Make sure it says you made AT LEAST 450,720NT, because that is the salary requirement for the APRC application.
There you have it! Those are the documents you need to present along with your application form. Those are the exact documents I turned it TODAY, along with 10,000NT, and ran into no problems. Once you have all of these together, simply make your trip to Immigration, take a number (make sure you hit APRC service button!), and wait.
I went in today at around noon. My number was 595; I had to wait 2 1/2 hours. I used this time to fill out the application form and make photo copies and do one last run-through of all the documents I needed. I even went back up to the information counter to confirm that my salary certificate and tax statement were indeed the same thing and that I INDEED only needed my blue tax statement. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty nervous. Applying for my APRC is a big deal! What if I was missing something or didn’t get something right!!!??? Or was rejected at the counter!!!?
Well, I am very happy to announce that I went through ALL of the steps I just outlined above and am now awaiting approval and pick of my APRC. PERMANENT ALIENSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN SO CLOSE! Which brings me to the very last step.
At the counter, you are asked some questions to confirm that you are indeed exempt from needing a health certificate, if that is the case. Then, once the immigration officer has gone through all your paperwork, you will be asked to print and sign your name on a piece of paper. There are also some words on their you will be asked (and required) to read. Don’t worry, it’s all in English! After you hand in your 10,000NT (alienship ain’t cheap!) you will be given THE RECEIPT FOR PICK UP.
Finally (and this is where I’m at in the process right now), you wait 6-8 weeks for the notification of your APRC approval to come in the mail. (More nervous waiting!) When that arrives, bring your RECEIPT, ARC and PASSPORT to the information counter at Immigration to pick your APRC.
I would say THE END, but I’m not even there yet! Good luck!
If you have any questions about my sources and other blogs I came across in my research for all this, feel free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.