The National Immigration Agency provides comprehensive statistics on immigration and foreign residents in Taiwan. As of October, 2019, not including Chinese nationals, there were:
- 794,974 current Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs), including some
- 62,833 foreign spouses, and
- 17,532 permanent residents (APRCs).
APRC holders are mostly eligible for naturalization, and foreign spouses are eligible after three years. Many of the other ARC holders may be eligible if they meet the 5-year residency and other requirements, such as income and police records.
The countries of origin with the largest numbers of APRC holders include:
And for ARC holders married to Taiwanese nationals:
There are likely many more foreign residents eligible for naturalization, but it is not possible to tell from the statistics provided by the NIA alone.
Many of these long-term and permanent residents have family, jobs, businesses, friends and roots in Taiwan. It is an embarrassment for Taiwan to deny them the right to fully immigrate and integrate into the country which they call home due simply to their dual obligations in their country of origin, even while many Taiwanese nationals may enjoy dual nationality in those same countries. And it is a pity that they are unable to contribute their fullest back to society with the restrictions placed on them as ARC and APRC holders.
Looking at the naturalization statistics, there are some obvious patterns. According to the Ministry of the Interior, during 2018 there were 3,552 naturalizations, over 90% of which were Southeast Asian women with a Taiwanese spouse, with the remainder being mainly children and Southeast Asian men with a Taiwanese spouse. While these (mainly) Vietnamese, Filipino, and Indonesian women may be willing to renounce their nationality of origin, it is clear that the vast majority of those eligible for Taiwanese naturalization are either unwilling or unable, and in any case the number of naturalizations from countries outside of Southeast Asia is minuscule.
I have previously explained the exception for high-level professionals to obtain dual nationality. Disregarding the dubious nature of such an exception, it is clear that acceptance under this rule is almost non-existent with only 52 naturalizations during the same period.
To recap, during 2018:
- Somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 people were likely eligible for naturalization
- 3,500 were willing to renounce their original citizenship to take Taiwanese nationality
- Of those, the vast majority were Southeast Asian women with Taiwanese spouses
- Apart from Southeast Asia, there were only 75 naturalizations from 7 other countries (Japan, USA, India, South Korea, Germany, Singapore, and Canada)
- Only 52 people were able to qualify under the high-level professional exception
I hope that Taiwanese people will reflect on these statistics, and decide if this is really the type of environment they want to create for the future of their country. One where huge numbers of people come from all over the world, fall in love with this "beautiful island," build their lives here, but are never able to fully integrate into society. Or, would Taiwanese prefer to welcome these people and their diversity of ideas, skills, and experiences in, and to embrace a growing Taiwanese identity?
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