5/23/2012

Naturalization Process in Taiwan

Let us know how Taiwan Immigration has served you by pressing the appropriate button. 


I went to get my ID squared last week at Taiwan Immigration. I found a feedback machine and poster (above) at the counter where I received service. I decided to put up the shots I took on my iPhone because I have been told the service of our government employees leaves much to be desired. Obviously, the government has heard pretty much the same and has decided to do something about it. At the end of the day, I'm afraid we still have a long way to go. The service is good; the underlying concepts of that service leave much to be desired. I'll get to that in a moment.

In the meantime, I have to say my clerk at Taiwan Immigration, Ms. Lin, was friendly and helpful. When I told her I was curious about naturalization, she made some calls. I was then directed to a second counter for the details. This is something I could see myself looking for online someday, so I'll post what I came away with. Returning to Ms. Lin: I asked her about the feedback machine and she told me I was entitled to press the button that best represented the level of service I was receiving. I wanted to know if officials got a bonus for positive presses: "No," she answered, "but we can get our picture up on the wall for 'Official of the Month.'" I am also guessing a lot of negative presses can lead to, if nothing else, a pretty good finger wagging by someone further up the chain of command.

Before I left Taiwan Immigration, I was given an informative booklet entitled New Hometown New Life: Handbook of Living Information in Taiwan for Foreign Spouses. Here's the "Flow chart of naturalization application" I found inside. It entails the steps you must take to officially become Taiwanese. A complete description is included:

1. Marriage Registration
2. Applying for Resident Visa
3. Applying for Alien Resident Certificate
4. Applying for "R.O.C. Naturalization Candidature Certificate" (with more than 3 years of legal residence and at least 183 days per year dated back from the day of application)
5. Applying for renounciation of one's original application
6. Applying for Alien Permanent Resident Certificate in the R.O.C. (Applicants have to reside for a certain period of time: for one year without departure from the day of naturalization; for two years and more than 270 days per year; for five years and more than 183 days per year) [In other words, get ready to stay put.]
7. Applying for Household Registration Certificate and obtaining ID Card

In other words,

1. Apply for "R.O.C. Naturalization Candidature Certificate"
Agencies-in-charge: Local Household Registration Office near one's domestic residence
Required Documents:
(1) Applying for "R.O.C. Naturalization Candidature Certificate" (two color photographs of the same size of that on ID cards taken less than one year)
(2) A valid Alien Residence Certificate or Alien Permanent Resident Certificate
(3) A foreigner's Certificate of Residence (proving consecutive days of stay) [Hard to say what this is; you'll probably have to get some sort of print-out from Taiwan Immigration)
(4) Proof of properties or professional skills ensuring one can be self-sufficient
(5) To naturalize in the R.O.C., one must achieve the standard of basic ability and understand the basic rights and duties of citizenship. [Pretty vague -- if you are married to a local, you are entitled to seventy-two hours of free Chinese classes which gets you the basic ability part. Taiwan's constitution is straightforward. Read it you will you understand that it is routinely ignored in this country just as constitutions are routinely ignored in other places around the world. The duties of citizenship  probably come down to what you value. If you are male and under thirty-five, you are probably looking at close to a year in the military though.] One must have one of the documents below:
- Study certificate issued by Taiwan-based private or public schools for more than one year
- Study certificate in classes that are conducted by the government or organizations entrusted by the government for 72 hours
- Passing naturalization examination with the score of 60 percent and above
(6) Household Certificate transcript with marriage registration (Applicants do not have to submit this item since the Household Registration Office would check it.)
(7) Certificate fees: NT$220 (please make the postal money order payable to the Ministry of the Interior.)

2. Renounciation of the nationality of the country of origin
Agencies-in-charge: The government of the country of origin or its embassy in the R.O.C. or any representative organizations authorized by the countries of origin

3. Applying for naturalization
Agencies-in-charge: Local Household Registration Office near one's domestic residence
Required documents:
(1) An application form of R.O.C. Naturalization (two color photographs of ID Card size taken within the past year)
(2) Certificate of stateless [if you are stateless, who issues this?] renounciation of the country of origin, or documents certified by agencies of foreign affairs to be true (Chinese translation copy is required and documents need to be certified by the R.O.C. Embassies, Consulates, Trade Offices abroad [not in Taiwan] and re-examined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
(3) A valid Alien Residence Certificate or Alien Permanent Residence Certificate
(4) Foreign Residence Certificate (The duration of residence should be continuous without any disruption) ["should" probably reads must]
(5) Proof of properties or professional skills ensuring one can be self sufficient (Those who have Permanent Resident Certificate or R.O.C. Naturalization Candidature Certificate are exempt from this requirement during naturalization application.)
(6) To naturalize to the R.O.C., the applicant should pass the basic language ability test and have knowledge about the legal rights and duties of R.O.C. citizens.
Required Documents: (Those who have Permanent Resident Certificate or R.O.C. Naturalization Candidature Certificate are exempt from the requirement.)
- Study certificate issued by Taiwan-based private or public schools for more than one year
- Study certificate in classes that are conducted by the government or organizations entrusted by the government for 72 hours
- Passing naturalization examination with the score of 60 percent and above
(7) Household Certificate transcript with marriage registration (Applicants do not have to submit this item since the Household Registration Office would check it.)
(8) Certificate fees: NT$1,000 ([p]lease make the postal money order payable to the Ministry of the Interior.)

4. Apply for Taiwan Resident Certificate
Agencies-in-charge: local service center of National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior near one's domestic residence
Required documents:
(1) An Alien Residence Certificate application form (including one photograph of the ID Card photo size and taken within the past two year). [no s and period now outside the parenthesis]
(2) One duplicate copy of the citizenship certificate (Such as naturalization permit of a list of nationalities issued by the Ministry of the Interior. The original copy will be returned) [no period at all]
(3) Certificate fees [not given]

5. Apply for Alien Permanent Resident Certificate
Agencies-in-charge: local service center of National Immigration. Ministry of the Interior near one's domestic residence
Required documents:
(1) An Alien Permanent Resident Resident Application form (including one photograph with the same size of that of ID Card and taken within the past two year)
(2) Taiwan Resident Card
(3) Taiwan-native spouse's Household Certificate or R.O.C. ID Card (The original copy will be returned and this does not apply to divorced couples)
(4) A qualified health examination certificate issued in the past 3 months
(5) Other relevant certificates and documents, such as an original and a duplicate copy of the Household Certificate of the owner of the resident address (the original copy will be returned), an original and a duplicate copy of the leasing contract (the original copy will be returned), and others
(6) A stamped and self-addressed envelope of registered mail with the receiver's name, address, zip code and telephone number
(7) Certificate fees

6. Apply for Household Registration and ID Card
Agencies-in-charge: Local Household Registration Office near one's domestic residence
Required documents:
(1) The Certificate of "Sefflement" sent by National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior for notifying Household Registration.
(2) A Household Certificate (No need for independent household, but one has to show ownership certificate of the house or other relevant documents.)
(3) One photograph
(4) First-time ID Card applicants need to pay NT$50. Applicants can get their ID Cards after completing the household registration.

Whew! Once you've got all of that straight, there are still a few things to consider.

First off, New Hometown New Life: Handbook of Living Information in Taiwan for Foreign Spouses suggests the following: "Other than the relationship between the husband and the wife, newly-wed couples need to have a good relationship with parents, sisters-in-law and neighbors. Daughters-in-law should respect parents-in-law and treat them as their own parents. Parents-in-law expect filial piety, such as children taking care of, providing money to and maintaining a connection with parents-in-law. Getting along with sisters-in-law and making a peaceful family are most people's expectation of family."

There is no mention of the sons-in-law and their duty. It is as if this work assumes that Taiwanese women do not also marry people from other countries. Needless to say, Taiwanese women do marry from outside the realm. These women work, pay taxes and are citizens. Their concerns should be addressed; this booklet is also on their dime. That they are ignored is problematic and probably speaks to outdated concepts in the face of the transnational world we now live in.

Here's some more: "Therefore, good relationship between parents and teachers may help children adapt to campus lives. Foreign spouses can speak their native languages at home with children [they can bloody well speak their native languages in public too, even if twits in high places think otherwise] while telling stories or illustrated books [or non-illustrated books -- their kids ought to have the same powers of imagination as other kids], or teaching folklore songs in their native dialects. This helps children learn about the culture of their mothers' countries of origin. This not only brings parents-children relationship closer, but also widen children's global horizons."

I don't even know where to start with this sort of b.s. I'm a foreign spouse. I usually speak my native language at home because my wife has demanded it. She figures that if our offspring is bi- or multilingual, this will give her the leg up. My wife cares about our child having  a well-rounded sense of identity; our child is Taiwanese and also not Taiwanese. I should point out when I read stories or illustrated books, or teach folklore songs (Mickey Mouse Club or Paul Bunyan, I suppose), this does nothing in terms of my child learning "about the the culture of their mother's countries [or country] of origin" because, simply put, her mother is Taiwanese. 

To me, there is something going on here that rings of male chauvinism. Ten years ago, Taiwanese women married to men from other countries hit the streets to demand equal rights for their offspring. At that time, the government was incapable of comprehending of their kids as locals: Taiwanese men married to women from other countries could confer citizenship on their children; Taiwanese women married to men from different countries could not. Thankfully, the laws came under scrutiny and were changed.  

Government officials in Taiwan are said to be educated. Wouldn't an educated person have at least some grip on what is going on? Taiwanese women can marry whomever they chose. Those that do exercise this right normally contribute to this society and deserve to be served just like anyone else. New Hometown New Life: Handbook of Living Information in Taiwan for Foreign Spouses is riddled with troublesome advice; I have brought up a couple of brain farts, but could go on all day. It's late and I'm tired, so I'll leave off with the above for the time being. 

5/09/2012

The Playgrounds Are for Kids

Translation: "This stuff is for children only." The sign next to the playground reads, just in case there can be any doubt, "Stay off the apparatus if you are over thirty kilograms."


I have repeatedly written about teenagers invading the playgrounds around my home in Wanhua (萬華), Taipei. Most evenings, they show up around eight and take over. They occupy the swings, throw parties in the tree houses and castles, toss garbage all over the place and do whatever else they can to piss the rest of us (meaning tax-paying adults) off. I'm going to meander a bit now to talk about something from the memory chest because I want to color in the dissatisfaction some of us have with what is going on. Then I'll tell you about something I saw tonight. 

There are lots of parents in the playgrounds at around eight o'clock playing with their kids. Unfortunately, their young ones can only use the apparatus partially, if at all, because the teenagers already have the beat on them. Parents are also intimidated for some reason and are not ashamed to admit it. Instead of doing anything about this, they play catch on the inline skating rink, look for sticks and rocks to collect or gather up the flowers their children pluck from the bushes near the playgrounds they'd much rather be playing on. There are public signs that tell people the playgrounds are for those thirty kilograms or less -- lots of signs. The signs also read "no smoking" or "no loud and obnoxious behavior." The problem is this: the rules are not enforced.

I have had lots of run-ins with the hooligan wannabes, and they are well documented on this blog. The last time I had more than my fair share of grief was two years ago. When my daughter and I arrived at Youth Park (青年公年), across the street from our home in Wanhua (萬華), we discovered a rusty bicycle plopped in the middle of the playground. "Daddy!" said my daughter, "that is dangerous!" She had a point. 

The bike was twisted up, with the front wheel turned underneath the frame. I imagined the rider jumping off it and letting it land where it may. It now lay directly in front of the swings, so I picked it up and set it off to the side of the playground. No sooner had I turned around to locate my daughter than a foul-mouthed male teenager was in my face. He wasn't much of a specimen -- I'm guessing around sixty to sixty-five kilograms of skin and bone -- but he was leader of his gang based on his verve:

"Hey, that's my bike!" he shouted. He decided to add "man" in English.

"Then what are you doing leaving it like this?" I asked. "I guarantee you a kid will get hurt before the evening is out." Instead of apologizing or having a single glance around at how his careless behavior was affecting his community, Joe Cool (I'll refer to him as JC from now on) asked:

"Do you want to fight?"

Did I want to fight? LOL. A fight with him would have lasted until I decided to stop dropping bombs, so I said, 

"Uh, yeah. I do." After JC had slunk off, I had this thought: why would you challenge a guy you didn't want to fight? 

Anyway, I need to get on to what happened tonight, so I'll wrap this up. About an hour later, when my three-year-old daughter and I were leaving, I heard JC getting tough again for his friends, trying to show he wasn't thick-skinned after all: "Fuck you!" he shouted after us. "Asshole!" Instead of making a left for home, we went right and walked about 20 feet to the local police station to file a complaint. Just before the cops escorted JC out of the park, he explained, "He's a foreigner. I just wanted to talk to him." 

Since then, JC and I have kind of patched things up. Whenever we bump into each other, we let bygones be bygones. He's still making the other parents miserable. But when I repeatedly take the piss out of him for having nothing better to do than slide on park slides with his park-based posse or compete to see who can swing the highest, he takes it. 

It is worth pointing out that I am getting to know JC fairly well now. He's bright, but his smarts probably won't take him far. Even though he's now seventeen, he still doesn't take school seriously. Obviously, his parents don't have the time of day for him. That's why he can spend evening after evening in the park. Having said that, all I ever wanted to do was go to the park and play with my kid. 

Why the f^%k should I have ever had had to put up with this, or even waste a single sweat drop on these wanks?

*****

Basically, JC represents the last run-in I've had with playground invaders. Since then, I have learned to ignore them in the same as I do a fly buzzing around the living room. I'll make a lazy swat if it gets around my ears, but that's about it. These last few weeks my wife and I have been running our daughter to 2-28 Park in the evenings because it is close to her preschool. Yesterday, our daughter wanted to play on the swings, but they were occupied by a couple of lovebird teenagers. My daughter asked them if she could swing. The girl-half simply ignored her while the guy smiled on. Neither budged. So I asked her: "Did you see the sign? It says you have be thirty kilograms or less to use the swings." 

"Sorry," she said, getting off.

"If she were sorry," my wife later said, "why did she ignore Ahleena?"

But the story doesn't end there. A while later, we were at the swings again (picture below). Two girls from Taipei's First Girls' School (北一女) -- these are the best students in the country -- and a man were using the east swing when a cop showed up and pointed to the characters painted on the frame (picture above): "These are for children to use." The words had been about a couple of inches from their noses the whole time (don't tell me these kids and the man don't read). The officer took their IDs and booked them. Then he pointed at the Presidential Office and said: "That is where President Ma is. Have some respect." If he had simply pointed at the parents with kids on the playground and said, "These people have children. This apparatus is for them; you're too big for it / it can't take your weight, etc.," I'm sure that would have sufficed but, I admit, lacked the drama and righteousness. Tonight, on the very same swings, a similar incident took place. Only this time, a cop took a picture of the offender with his cell phone as well. Her figure was accentuated by the mini-skirt and low-cut top she had on. 

I asked tonight's hero, Officer Lin, about when the cops'd get around to clearing out the riff raff at Wanhua's Youth Park but was informed I shouldn't worry about it so much. 


These parallel bars in Taipei's 2-28 Park were broken by people much too heavy to be swinging on them swinging on them.

Translation: "They're broken."

Swing set where the two Taipei's First Girls' School (北一女) and man were booked.

5/04/2012

China versus Taiwan?


A friend pointed out this post to me. I think I'll put up a link to what interested him: http://goo.gl/5dKDG

In a nutshell, the author compares Taiwan to China, using the format of a first-time visitor to these parts and what she walked away with (anger, epiphany, disillusionment, friendship, etc.). The former country is kind of good, the latter is not good at all. Okay. Both the author and the visitor are entitled to their opinions (I am not really trying to argue for a side here). I will say this: the woman he chooses to focus on offers up her own experiences while he does not prefer (see above link) to bring home a certain point of view. Here's a quick list-off of what caught my eye from his side of it (italicized):

China vs. Taiwan is a very interesting comparison

No, it is not. It has been done to death. 

Both share common roots, yet the people are so different (or is it like comparing a mountain to a molehill?)

Well, Taiwan also has a distinctly aboriginal / frontier history. I'm no expert, but I think China has something like fifty-five different cultures, at least according to the official line. Back to Taiwan: I do know this is controversial, but many think that since Taiwan in her history had a closed door to female immigration from China (from the late 1600s until around the start of the 1800s, it was basically illegal for Chinese women to come here), most Taiwanese people have aboriginal DNA. The molehill in this analogy is Taiwan; this will only serve to annoy. 

I'm not surprised by her experience, but I wonder, if she wasn't a white girl, how the experience would be like. Fact is, being white in this part of the world sparks a lot of interest and emotions among some of the locals: curiosity, contempt, interest, despise, admiration, mistrust and a mix of positive and negative cliches...

What cliches are you speaking about?

I'm speaking from my own experience. 

The author is male. I'm not saying men and women cannot experience the same stuff. Her experience, as a female, has been stressed by the author though. 

I'm not really liking the "yet the people are so very different" twist either because I come away with this take after reading the post, based on the set-up: we are supposed to see Taiwan and China as the same at the start. If not, the post doesn't really have a reason for existing. "Yet the people are so very different" looks like a story-telling technique. It has this tone: "I know what you were thinking and have thought, but are you ready for this? Get ready to have your eyes opened!"

For me, Taiwan's distinctness isn't much of a shocker. After all, China and Taiwan have been separated for 117 years (politically, that is -- an argument could be made that the separation dates back further), so it should go without saying they do not share exactly the same culture and by extension, behavior. If the author has posted up because some Taiwanese people and some Chinese people look similar and are able to communicate with each other, that could also seem problematic, especially in this transnational world we live in, where lines grow increasingly blurred.

I suggested to the author, who is from Slovenia, that he might not really enjoy it too much if a non-Slovenian were to set up camp and go about inviting the rest of us to talk about how Slovenians are distinguishable or indistinguishable from other peoples of the former Yugoslavia, or even Soviet Union. What I really meant to say is this: if the author had brought up his own experience, whether in Taiwan, China or back in Slovenia, a more honest and enlightening piece of work might have ensued. How I engage people still needs work. 

The blog author closes out with a few questions. Here are three: Do you think what she [the girl who may be white] wrote is generally true or too subjective? Do you think what she wrote is generally true or too subjective [let's have another go]? Did you find it interesting?

a.) Do you think it is generally true? I don't know -- what's the point? I have brought my response over to my own blog because I don't really feel like running the gauntlet of censors at another site. Having said this, I rarely comment on other blogs these days. There are about five or six that I read on a normal basis. This post was brought to my attention; in all truth, I don't know anything about the guy posting other than what I was told when it was pointed out to me.
b.) Do you think what she wrote is too subjective [OK, let's have another go at this]? No. It's just a series of anecdotes. Most of us can appreciate a good anecdote and recognize it for what it is.
c.) Did you find it interesting? Meh.