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Naturalization procedure for foreign nationals to be simplified

2017/06/18 19:41:09

CNA file photo of Father George Martinson (丁松筠)

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) Taiwan's government is working to simplify procedures to naturalize foreign citizens based on meritorious service that will shorten the process from the current two months to about 10 days, Ministry of the Interior (MOI) officials said.

The issue was raised after Father George "Jerry" Martinson (丁松筠), an American Jesuit missionary who lived and worked in Taiwan for 50 years, died in Taipei on May 31, a day before he was to receive his Republic of China (Taiwan) identification card.

It led people to ask why it took so long for foreign nationals who had contributed so much to Taiwan to obtain Taiwan citizenship.

Under the Nationality Act, foreign nationals or stateless person who have made special contributions to the country can apply for naturalization.

But complicated bureaucratic procedures mean the process takes more than one month at minimum and usually about two months to complete.

Under the MOI's new plan, developed in coordination with other agencies, foreign nationals who have made special contributions will be able to submit a naturalization application at the same time that they file a residency application.

The application will then be sent to local governments and the MOI.

The Executive Yuan, which has the authority to say yes or no, will leave it up to the ministry to make the decision, which will shorten the process to about 10 days, MOI official Chai Lan-ping (翟蘭萍) was cited as saying in a United Daily News report.

The MOI's plan still has to be reviewed by the Executive Yuan before it can be implemented, Chai said.

Martinson, who was born in California in 1942, came to Taiwan in 1967 and taught introductory philosophy and psychology courses in college and English on TV programs.

The Jesuit, who managed the Kuangchi Program Service in Taiwan for many years, produced the awarding-winning documentary "Beyond the Killing Fields: Refugees on the Thai-Cambodian Border" in 1986.

He had also cooperated with TV channels in China to make TV programs on Jesuits Matteo Ricci (利瑪竇, 1552-1610), Johann Adam Schall von Bell (湯若望, 1592-1666) and Giuseppe Castiglione (郎世寧, 1688-1766) in recent years.

Belgian Father Pierre Mertens (梅冬祺), who came to Taiwan in 1952, American Sister Mary Paul Watts (華淑芳), who came to Taiwan in 1958, and Italian Sister Elena-Pia Frongia (趙秀容), who came to Taiwan in the early 1960s, received ROC ID cards this month.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Kuo Chung-han)