Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Restrictions on naturalization could be relaxed considerably after a draft amendment to the Nationality Act passed an initial screening by a legislative committee on Wednesday, opening up for the first time the possibility of dual nationality for some foreign immigrants to Taiwan.
The biggest change in the proposed amendment would allow, pending government "recommendation," foreign professionals in certain fields to forego the cumbersome process of proving the loss of their original nationality when immigrating, a step that is currently required for all foreigners seeking to naturalize as Taiwanese citizens.
Taiwan does not fully recognize dual nationality. It currently allows Taiwanese citizens to take up foreign nationalities, but requires incoming foreign emigrants to give up their original nationality.
That rule would only apply to accomplished professionals in the fields of technology, economics, education, culture, arts, sports or other areas deemed to further the nation's interests.
Spouses of Taiwanese nationals and other immigrants would still need to submit a certificate proving the loss of citizenship in their original country, but the timetable for that process would be much more forgiving under the amendment.
The current system requires foreign nationality be given up before applying for Taiwanese citizenship, effectively leaving applicants stateless for a period of time with no guarantee their applications will be successful.
The changes would require a loss of nationality certificate be presented within one year after an applicant's approval to naturalize.
Immigrants from countries where minors cannot give up their nationality would be able to naturalize first and provide Taiwanese authorities with proof of losing their original nationalities within one year of coming of age.
Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen said the revision would relax restrictions from the vague requirement of "no criminal record" to allow minor offenses, provided the applicant has finished his or her sentence or paid the required fine and has had the offense erased from police records.
However, the amendment does not change the current requisite that applicants for naturalization exhibit "good morals."
Chen also pointed out that the path to naturalization will remain closed for those who violate social order and "act against decency," citing working in a hostess bar and committing adultery as examples.
The Executive Yuan proposed the amendment to help attract skilled workers from abroad.
It said South Korea has allowed dual or multiple nationality since 2010 to target people who have made special contributions to South Korea or who have special expertise.