Visa to teach in Taiwan
Information about visas to Taiwan. What kind of visa
do you need in order to teach in Taiwan?
Visa for Taiwan - you almost definitely need one
Taiwan does not have official diplomatic relations with most countries in the world. The Chinese government still claims ownership of the small island, and puts pressure on the international community to not deal directly with the Taiwanese. Therefore, your country will most likely not have any official Taiwanese "embassies", but there are usually "Taipei Economic and Cultural Centers" which effectively play the role of an embassy.
This can cause confusing problems once you are in Taiwan, as there are certain things that can only be done at "real" embassies. If you anticipate having to renew your passport, change the address or anything of the like, you should definitely do it beforehand as the lack of officially recognized diplomacy makes these types of things very difficult or even impossible.
Here's what the process of going from not having a clue what's going on to be a full-time English teacher in Taiwan will look like:
- Make sure passport is renewed / ready to go
- Buy a plane ticket to Taiwan
- Collect all documents for visa (discussed below)
- Apply for and receive tourist or resident visa in home country's Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
- Arrive in Taiwan
- Find a job*
- Convert your tourist visa to a resident visa*
- Apply for and acquire an ARC through your English school
*Note: These will not apply if you've already found a job prior to arrival in Taiwan
I don't have a teaching job yet - which visa do I want?
Many foreigners who have not yet found work and plan on looking while in Taiwan will necessarily come on a tourist or visitor visa. Landing visas are available to most foreigners, but they generally only last thirty days and may even require proof of your exit flight.
Converting a landing visa into a resident tourist visa is not possible and will require that you leave Taiwan in order to visit a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office before reentering the country. Therefore, if your goal is to find work while in Taiwan, you will need to apply for an extended tourist visa in your home country first.
Also, you will have to make sure that your passport is valid for over six months from the day of your arrival. If not, you will be denied a visa for Taiwan.
The visa you will be gunning for is a sixty-day, multiple entry tourist visa. This 2-month period should give you enough time to search for work and obtain an Alien Resident Certificate, or ARC, which will be necessary to do just about anything else (find an apartment, get your health insurance card, etc.). If not, the tourist visa is extendable, and you can technically reapply and get a second set of 60 days. The visas can only be extended twice though, meaning that after 180 days of tourist visas you are ineligible to stay without an ARC.
Check out my eBook Teach English in Taiwan: The Official Survival Guide for more information about teaching ESL and living in Taiwan.
60-day Tourist visa: what to do?
First, you should be aware that looking for work is not technically a reason that legitimates giving you a tourist visa. If the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office is aware that your intention is to go to Taiwan to find a teaching job, they may be reluctant to give you the visa, or at least give you trouble you about it. It will be best if you claim a different intention, such as staying with a friend or simply traveling, to avoid any hassle.
According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the reasons that qualify you for a tourist visa are: "transit; tour; visit relatives; undertake visits; undertake inspection tours; attend international conferences; conduct business; pursue short-term study; undertake short-term employment; undertake short-term missionary work; and engage in other activities in the ROC as approved by MOFA."
To obtain the visa, you will need the following:
- A passport valid for six months or more
- Completed Taiwan visa application.
- Two 2x2 photos
- Some kind of verification of the reason for your visit. If you are going to "visit a friend," make sure to have that person's information - phone number, e-mail and address. You may write a letter of intent explaining the details of your visit and reasons for going.
- Potentially a return ticket, but you might get by with a promise to buy one later. Call your local Taipei Economic and Cultural office to verify one way or another
- Visa fee. The multiple-entry fee will be NT$ 3,200 (US$100) for foreign nationals, with American passport holders getting an extra-special fee of NT$4,620 (US$140)
Once all of these documents and fees are together, along with your story about your Taiwanese friend that you are going to visit, you will make your way to the nearest Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
I found a job already - now what?
If you have already landed a position (congratulations!), you will be eligible to apply for a resident visa in Taiwan. The Taiwanese resident visa is valid for up to three months, and can also be applied for on the grounds of studying Chinese.
The requirements for the Taiwan resident visa are largely the same as those listed above for the tourist visa (passport valid for 6 months or more, two 2x2 photos, completed visa application and application fee). However, you may additionally need a health certificate verifying that you have been given appropriate vaccinations. These rules change often, so contact your local Taipei Economic and Cultural Office to find out.
More importantly, you will need official documents from Taiwan that express the legitimacy of your work status. Your ESL school will be in contact with the government and should be able to provide you with the necessary paperwork that you are to pass on to the office.
Once you have a resident visa and are in Taiwan, you will be required to get a hold of an ARC within 15 days of arrival. The ARC is the basic catch-all government ID for foreigners, and is very important for registering yourself as a legitimate resident of Taiwan. However, what you need to know is that you have 15 days from the day you land to conjure one up.
If you would like more information about teaching English and living in Taiwan, may I suggest that you take a look at Teach English in Taiwan: The Official Survival Guide! This guide covers everything you need to know about ESL in Taiwan, from getting ready to move to Taiwan to tips on how to negotiate contracts with English schools.
Teach English in Taiwan also contains the biggest directory of places to find teaching jobs in Taiwan (more than 500 schools) in cities like Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Keelung, Tainan, Changhua, Hualien, Taitung (Taidong), Ilan, Hsinchu, and many more smaller Taiwanese towns around the island.
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