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Economic immigration act draft targets 3 types of talent

2018/08/07 14:57:56

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) Taiwan's National Development Council (NDC) has completed its drafting of a new economic immigration act that targets three categories of foreign talent -- professionals, mid-level skilled workers, and Taiwanese expatriates and their offspring.

The Cabinet-level council released the draft act late Monday, nearly two months after unveiling an outline of the measure aimed at attracting more overseas talent to meet Taiwan's needs in developing key industries and easing a looming manpower shortage.

Investment immigration was excluded from the draft act at the last minute and will remain covered by existing laws, NDC deputy chief Kao Shien-quey (高仙桂) said.

The primary goal of the proposed legislation will be to boost recruitment and retention of mid-level skilled foreign talent in fields like engineering, manufacturing, and information and communication technology.

Mid-level skilled foreign talent is defined under the draft act as overseas students who graduate from high school or vocational school in Taiwan, workers who have been employed in Taiwan for a certain number of years, and technical staff recruited from abroad.

International students enrolled in specific education programs, such as the Overseas Youth Vocational Training School or Industry-University Cooperation Courses designed for youth from Southeast Asian and South Asian countries are also eligible.

They and their families will be eligible to apply for permanent residency and naturalization after seven years in the country, respectively.

The act sets minimum salary levels for these employees at NT$41,393 (US$1,351) in industrial sectors and NT$32,000 in social welfare sectors.

The draft act also allows businesses in designated key industries such as green technology, biopharmaceutical, intelligent machinery, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and digital technology, to employ foreign professionals regardless of their size or capital.

As of August last year, Taiwan's industrial and service sectors had 218,000 unfilled positions, 55 percent of which, or 120,000, were characterized as medium-skilled jobs, data from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics indicates.

The relatively higher wage thresholds for migrant skilled workers would prevent foreign workers from taking jobs from Taiwanese workers, but are still low enough to draw interest from local employers because of the many positions that remain unfilled, according to the NDC.

For basic low-level migrant workers, local employers currently pay between NT$24,000 and NT$31,000 per month in salary and employment stability fund contributions for manufacturing workers or up to NT$19,000 for caregivers, the council said.

Investment immigration did not make it into the bill because Taiwan already has fairly accommodating regulations on investment immigration compared with other countries, Kao said.

Under existing rules, people who invest NT$15 million in a business that employs five or more people or invest N$30 million or more in government bonds or other financial products are eligible to apply for permanent residence after three years.

The NDC considered easing the eligibility thresholds but decided against it after the Financial Supervisory Commission insisted on keeping the ceiling for overseas investor investment in government, corporate and financial bonds at 30 percent of the amount they remit into Taiwan.

Easing the restriction would have made it harder to manage capital flows and resulted in higher administrative costs for only limited benefits, Kao said.

The draft act has been published on the council's public online policy platform, and people can present their opinions on it until Oct. 5. It then has to be approved by the Executive Yuan and then submitted to the Legislature for review.

(By Pan Tze-yu and Elizabeth Hsu)