Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) saidMonday it welcomes Canada's decision to grant visa-waiver privilegeto Taiwan passport holders for visits of up to six months.
Canada is the 39th country to extend visa-free status to Taiwan.
According to the MOFA, Taiwanese tourists are the 7th largestsource of foreign tourists to Canada, making approximately 150,000visits per year.
At a press conference Monday, Foreign Minister Timothy Yangcategorically denied that the importation of boneless Canadian beefwas included in the negotiations on the visa waiver program.
The two issues are completely unrelated, he said.
Taiwan's inclusion in Canada’s visa-waiver program is the resultmore than one year of hard work, Yang said.
The Canada Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) announced Monday thatfollowing a technical review, it has decided to lift theTemporary Resident Visa (TRV) requirement for carriers of ordinaryTaiwan passports that contain a personal identification number andare issued by Taiwan's foreign ministry.
"This decision has both lowered the cost and increased theconvenience for Taiwanese travelers who wish to visit Canada fortourism, to study, or to do business, and will boost Canada’ssignificant commercial, cultural and people-to-people links withTaiwan," the CTOT said.
The application fee for a single entry visitor's visa to Canadais NT$2,250, and for multiple entry NT$4,500.
Taiwan's admission to the Canadian visa-waiver program isexpected to result in savings of up to NT$450 million per year invisa fees.
In its announcement, the CTOC made it clear that visa-free accessdoes not imply automatic entry to Canada. Visitors will still need tomeet the admission requirements that apply to all travelers seekingentry to Canada, with or without a visa, it said.
Permission to enter Canada will be granted only at the ports ofentry and at the sole discretion of Canadian border officials, theoffice said.
It is therefore strongly recommended that visitors answer borderofficials' questions truthfully at all times, the CTOC said.
Upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry, the period of stay willbe determined by an immigration officer, the CTOT explained.
Unless otherwise indicated, the period of stay will be for sixmonths, it said.
The visa-waiver privilege does not extend to Taiwanese seekingentry for work purposes, with limited exceptions, the CTOT said.
In July this year, Canada and Taiwan signed a working holidayprogram for youth. The original quota was 200 people per year butbecause of the popularity of the program, the quota was increased to700, Yang said.
Canadian citizens have been allowed to enter Taiwan visa-freesince 1993.
On the same day of Canada’s announcement, the self-governingBritish territory the Falkland Islands has also announced visa-waiveraccess for ROC citizens, bringing to 61 the number of countries andterritories that include Taiwan passport holders in their visa-waiverprogram or grant them landing visas.
Taiwan has also been lobbying Washington for inclusion in theU.S. visa-waiver program but has not been successful so far.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that over 250,000people from Taiwan visited the U.S. for business and tourism in2009 and that the U.S. would like to see the number increase evenfurther.
According to the AIT, one of the requirements for joining the U.S.visa waiver program is a non-immigrant visa refusal rate of less thanthree percent.
Taiwan met that requirement for the first time in the U.S. fiscalyear 2010, the AIT said.
Other requirements include sharing information on terrorists andcriminals and having strong security standards for the issuance ofdocuments, the AIT said.
Taiwan's failure to require its passport applicants to appear inperson at some point in the process leaves Taiwan vulnerable topassport scams, identity theft, and fraud, the AIT said.
"These scams can hurt honest and hard working people fromTaiwan," it said.
Over the years, there have been cases, including a recentlyreported one, in which criminals have exploited Taiwan's passportapplication procedure to engage in alien smuggling and identitytheft.
"We hope Taiwan will take the necessary steps to close thisloophole," the AIT said
(By Jenny W. Hsu)