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Vietnamese visa overstayer hoping for new life under amnesty plan

2019/03/20 18:33:58

Photo courtesy of the National Immigration Agency

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) A Vietnamese man who recently took advantage of an amnesty program for visa overstayers is hoping it will give him a new lease on life and allow him to settle in Taiwan with his Taiwanese girlfriend and children.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said the Vietnamese national voluntarily turned himself in to its Yunlin service center on March 11 after having overstayed his Taiwan visa for 10 years, and he asked to be deported to Vietnam under the amnesty plan in effect until June 30.

According to the NIA, he came to Taiwan in June 2008 to study at a private university in Taichung, but he was forced to drop out because of economic difficulties and decided to try to earn a living in Taiwan, the man said.

In the years since, he made a Taiwanese girlfriend, with whom he said he has raised a boy and a girl.

Although the two children have Republic of China citizenship and took the family name of their mother, the man said he felt bad because he was unable to give them a complete home and lived in constant fear he might be caught.

Pushed by a desire to start a new life with his partner and two children after learning of the amnesty program, he turned himself in to the NIA and ended the constant anxiety of not having legal status in Taiwan.

Chao Chih-cheng (趙志成), an official with the NIA's Yunlin service center, said the NIA will help the Vietnamese man based on the terms of the amnesty program because he turned himself in voluntarily.

That will include helping the Vietnamese man leave Taiwan for Vietnam, where he plans to marry his Taiwanese girlfriend, and then providing the necessary assistance to help him return to Taiwan as soon as possible so he can settle here with his family.

The NIA launched the amnesty program at the beginning of this year to encourage foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas to turn themselves in, offering a lighter punishment as an incentive.

During the six-month amnesty period, those who give themselves up to law enforcement authorities will only be fined NT$2,000 (US$65) and face a lighter re-entry ban depending on their situation.

Those who entered Taiwan on work visas and have overstayed their visas for fewer than three years will not face any re-entry ban while those who have overstayed their visas for more than three years will have the length of their re-entry ban cut by half.

Those who entered Taiwan for purposes other than work, such as students and tourists, would have the re-entry ban eliminated for an overstay of less than a year, have it cut in half for a one- to three-year overstay, and have it cut by a third for an overstay of over three years.

Foreign workers who are caught illegally staying in Taiwan beyond the expiration of their visas, however, will be detained and fined NT$10,000 and face a re-entry ban of up to eight years, the NIA said.

After the program ends, the law will be amended to increase penalties and lengthen the re-entry ban, the NIA has said.

An estimated 8,900 foreign nationals were living illegally in Taiwan as of the end of November 2018, according to the NIA.

(By Flor Wang and Chiang Chun-liang)