About Face: And quickly, at that

I mentioned yesterday that Taiwan’s government declared that foreigners without legal work visas would not be allowed to return once their visas expire, and no extension would be given.  It took only two days for the government to change their tune and offer leniency.

The government has enacted the Expanded Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program which will allow foreigners to overstay their visitor visas until June 20th, provided they turn themselves in during a certain time window and pay a fine.  Normally, foreigners who knowingly overstay would be subject to a ten year exclusion ban, but Taiwan will waive it due to the circumstances. The fine will be minimal (NT$2000 = US$66), not the usual NT$10000.

So much for a shortage of teachers and extra working hours for me. ^_^  From the official government website:

Expanded Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program Starts to Encourage Overstaying Foreign Citizens to Turn Themselves in

With the spread of coronavirus-19(COVID-19) worldwide and the discovery of case 32 confirmed COVID-19 patient to be an undocumented migrant worker, it has been a topic of wide discussion on whether overstaying population causes vulnerability to Taiwan’s disease control. “To cope with this issue, the National Immigration Agency(NIA) initiated the Expanded Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program, which starts from April 1st and ends on June 30th with a promotion period from March 20th to March 31st, 2020. Overstayers who turn themselves in during either period are entitled to receive penalty relieves including no detention, no entry ban and a minimum amount of fine. The purpose of this program is to encourage overstayers to turn themselves in so the Agency can help them return home safely” said General Director Chui, the head of the NIA. In order to follow the government’s policy of disease control, and attempt to reduce overstaying population in Taiwan, the NIA initiated the program from today to June 30th, while other authorities of law enforcement follow suit to the program when overstayers turn themselves in. To overstayers who turn themselves in during the designated period of this program, penalty relieves including no detention, no entry ban and a minimum fine of NTD 2,000 are entitled. After the designated period of the program, the NIA will push for an enhanced penalty amendment under the Immigration Act. On top of that, once the pandemic of COVID-19 eases, the Agency will strengthen enforcement and launch nation-wide sweeps against overstaying population.

This isn’t the first time the Taiwan government has shown common decency to foreigners without legal residency or work visas.

In 2017, a Taiwanese business owner held people from various countries as slaves working on a fishing vessel.  After the business was raided, the men were repatriated to their countries.  The Taiwan government seized US$123,000 from the boat owner, and gave it to the departing men as back wages.  Not the best way to leave, but at least they would feel they weren’t treated unfairly as they went home.

One thing I don’t like: Taiwan’s “marriage equality” law is a joke.  It says that for non-cishetero couples, the country of the foreign national must have marriage equality or Taiwan won’t recognize their marriage.  In other words, those from countries with marriage equality can marry Taiwanese people.  Those who come from oppressive countries with hateful and violent bigots cannot.  There is (for example) a foreign national from a Central American country who cannot marry his partner and will have to leave after June 20.