Opportunity or Dilemma: Work APRC vs. Marriage APRC

A couple weeks ago I was discussing work visa and Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) status with a friend and, as is so often the case, I learned some surprising things by listening to another foreigner’s uniquely Taiwan experience. I’ll relate the basics of that discussion and its enlightening points here, along with some notes worth considering if/when you find yourself in a situation where you might have the option to choose between family and regular APRC acquisition. As ever, I’m not an expert on the confounding and labyrinthine ways of governmental processes, paperwork, and residency, so if I’ve made errors here, please do drop me a line or comment and I’ll do my best to get it right.

First, the housekeeping for this topic. As you may know, there are (at least?) three ways to obtain an APRC in Taiwan. Here’s a quick, general breakdown of each:

  1. The Foreign Professional APRC – Foreigners can apply for this permanent residency visa after living and working on a continuous ARC (changing companies is allowed) for five consecutive years, spending at least 183 days per year in Taiwan and earning at least double the Taiwan minimum wage over the course of the year. One unique benefit of this APRC is that the holder needs to only spend one day every five years in Taiwan to maintain it.
  2. The Family-based APRC – As the spouse or child of a native Taiwanese citizen, one must reside in Taiwan for five consecutive years while registered for the Joint Family Residence Visa (JFRV) for over 183 days per year, or reside in Taiwan for 10 consecutive years for over 183 days in at least five of those years.
  3. APRC Plum Blossom Program – This program is aimed at uniquely qualified, skilled professionals. For those deemed worthy, there are no minimum residency requirements, no income requirements, and no filing fees. (For the purpose of this article, this will be the only mention of the Plum Blossom APRC. Sidebar: I’ve never met anyone who’s been granted this kind of APRC.)

The Discussion

This summer I will reach the fourth of the required five consecutive years to become eligible to apply for the regular APRC. As fortune would have it, I’m engaged to be married to a (smart, beautiful, loving) Taiwanese (Hi, honey!). In the course of the discussion mentioned above, my friend pointed out that this raises something of a unique opportunity with respect to my eventual permanent residency. I have the option to continue my current work path or to switch my residency path by filing for a JFRV when I sign marriage paperwork with my fiancée.

The Benefits

A number of considerable benefits are available to APRC holders that are not available to ARC holders. Here are a few worth noting:

  1. Open work permit – Any company can hire you without having to pay for your work permit and you can legally hold more than one job. This allows for great flexibility and more control over your work situations.
  2. No more 2 years’ experience – With an APRC, a company in any industry can hire you with or without the required two years of relevant industry experience required for ARC holders. You do have to file an exemption for this one, the application is here.
  3. You don’t have to have a job – Your visa allows you to stay in Taiwan as long as you’d like, with or without a job.
  4. Less annual renewals – No expiring ARCs to maintain and pay for, no mandatory health checks.

The Opportunities

Bringing this back to my current situation, there are a couple of possible benefits, depending on which way I decide to go with my paperwork. Should I simply continue working in Taiwan without breaking my current ARC, I’ll achieve APRC eligibility in the summer of 2020. If I go this route, I’ll always control my own destiny, so to speak, as my APRC and open work permit will always be assigned directly to me. Alternately, I could change course and elect to file for a JFRV after signing marriage paperwork with my partner. On the upside, switching to a JFRV immediately qualifies me for an open work permit. This can be helpful in certain job seeking situations as some companies are unable to file for ARCs, some have reached their limit for ARCs, and some are simply more inclined to hire candidates that require less fees and paperwork.

The Risks

Staying the course and obtaining my APRC via my working status comes with virtually no risk as long as I don’t break my ARC between now and my five-year benchmark achievement. However, should I elect to file for a JFRV and switch my residency path to become reliant on my partner, two very important things happen. First, my APRC clock resets to zero. One common misconception in Taiwan is that getting married essentially gets you an APRC, and that’s not true. If your residency is family-based, then you still have a five-year waiting period to achieve permanent residency. The second important thing that would happen if I file for a JFRV is that my residency becomes dependent on my partner. This is relevant because…shit happens.

The reason that the conversation I had with my friend held a good bit of intrigue was not limited to the decision-making position that I learned I’m in at the moment. It was made doubly interesting by the fact that, as an artist, he had found it beneficial to utilize the JFRV to create the freedom to not rely on a visa from an employer. This allowed him to forego having a day job when he wanted so that he could focus on his art, so he willingly traded more than three years of working ARC status for an immediate open work visa. But – and I guess this is the real cautionary tale of this post – unfortunately his relationship didn’t last and he found himself divorced and is now back at zero on his residency clock.

The Decision is Yours

In the end, we all get to choose our own adventure with respect to our APRC eligibility. Despite the unfortunate outcome in my friend’s case, he had a perfectly legitimate reason to want to achieve an open work permit as soon as possible. Surely, there are others who’ve made such a decision and had it work out for them. But my friend’s advice to me – and anyone with a few years toward APRC status in the bank and an upcoming wedding – was to complete the APRC based on the work time I’ve already earned and thereby control my own residency in Taiwan.


  Comments: 42

  1. Sadly, this article seems to have missed the biggest consideration when deciding to go for the work APRC (Foreign Professional APRC) and the JFRV and eventual APRC. These two APRCs are different. The JFRV leads to a standard APRC. The work ARC leads to the Foreign Professional APRC. The Foreign Professional APRC has more benefits than the standard one. For example, with the Foreign Professional APRC you are only required to stay in Taiwan for 1 day every 5 years to maintain the APRC. With the standard one you have to stay in Taiwan 183 days of each year (with the option of applying for a 2 year leave of absence) to maintain the APRC. The Foreign Professional APRC also allows a person to be enrolled in the National Pention plan where the standard APRC does not.

  2. The change was made last year. There was a big set of rules changed in February. This article talks about the big changes. There is is a link at the end to all the rules. The 1 day in 5 year rule is in that list of rules.


  3. Thank you for this interesting article and the comments. 🙂 I would definitely go for the Foreign Professional ARPC, because it gives me more benefits than JFRV. I’m not in Taiwan yet and also not married yet but I plan to come to Taiwan next year to find a job and then stay there forever and ask my Taiwanese girlfriend to marry me after I have lived in Taiwan for one year and when I have a stable life and work situation in Taiwan. 🙂

  4. Hi there! I have come across some info. regarding how many days need to be remain in Taiwan for who holding APRC. I’m actually a bit confuse about it…somehow there is only 2 type of APRC I found on the national immigration web, one is the regular one, one is the plum blossom. However the plum blossom one speaks about professionals! So here is what I found….
    scroll down to the 5.(1) where says…”the applicant is not subject to the requirement that he/she shall have resided in Taiwan for at least 183 days annually.”
    Is that means if you got a professnals APRC is then a plum blossom card? and the time you stay in Taiwan is no longer a concern?

    • Good question(s), Sandy. You can see why there’s so much confusion on this topic. The link you shared is entirely about the Plum Blossom Card, so in your quote (5.[1]) above, I believe with this information it only applies to those who acquire this special Plum Blossom designation. Judging by what I’ve read elsewhere, many claim that there is also a Foreign Professional APRC that *can grant the holder this freedom from the 183 days stipulation.

      • Hi John
        i really do want to know that as a holder of Aprc filling based as a Normal Foreign worker .
        due to nature of my Work need to travel abroad for long Terms and regular bases , therefore i cannot fulfill 183 days regulations cut off per year .
        do i need to apply for an approval for exemption or has this regulations already been omitted / Deleted .

        i need a simple and direct reply to my question .


        Kinds Regards

      • Sounds a little complicated. I’d take that inquiry to Immigration.

  5. Is it possible to get a JFRV (aka: APRC via Marriage) while not residing in Taiwan for the consecutive 183 days?

    My wife and I right now live/work in the US.. but we have a life in Taiwan (purchased 2 properties, 1 of which is our own home.. one we purchased for more investment and later selling the current and relocating to the new one) and are back and forth for a cumulative annual amount of about 90-120 days per year… but its not a consecutive period. We are trying to make sure that are “set” and have our visa’s in order so we can move/relocate to Taiwan, whenever we want without needing to do this during unfavorable times. But most things I read keep showing the 183 consecutive day requirements. (how is that tracked/counted).

    • That’s a special case and we haven’t gotten that question before… It may depend on whether you’ve signed marriage papers in Taiwan as a starting point. If you haven’t, probably do that first and inquire at that time. Good luck! And feel free to share what you find out if you go through this process!

  6. Is there a way to have a normal APRC that one waited 5 years for by being a working professional, AND get married so that I can have the best APRC that allows “stay in Taiwan for 1 day every 5 years to maintain the APRC” and be legally married here too?

    • If you get an APRC from 5 years of professional work, you should have the “stay in Taiwan for 1 day every 5 years to maintain the APRC”. When you get married, you don’t have to change anything about this. At this stage you have an open work permit from your permanent resident status, so I don’t think it matters whether you register for the Joint Family Resident Visa.

  7. I just asked inmigration through my company HR, my gf, a friend working for the Government and callig myself, and they all said Professional APRC holders still gotta stay in Taiwan at least 183 days per year. That the weaver is only for Golden Visa Holders and that the law referred in this article is still not enforced.

    I also couldn’t find anything at the NIAs website regardig this, only in the English version says that the 183 days rule doesn’t apply to professionals holdig APRC, but there’s nothing like that on the Chinese version.

    I counted on this 5 years grace period for my plans but I can’t find a way to confirm it and everything points on the opposite direction.

    • Those are troublesome findings, Samuel. We wish we could say that what you’re learning is surprising or that we can prove otherwise. However, it’s so often unclear whether a law or stipulation interpreted by one office will be acted on the same by another office. Perhaps another reader can chime in here to share more insights.

    • So, what’s the conclusion here?

      Can I just get an APRC from working for 5 years in a row, and then NOT need to stay in Taiwan for 183 days per year after that because of the “stay in Taiwan for 1 day every 5 years to maintain the APRC” finding?

      • The conclusion here is that – sadly, like so many other topics surrounding visas and residency – the answer to the question remains unclear. We’ll ask a couple of professionals and see what we can find. To Samuel’s point, it’s not uncommon for Taiwan government orgs to lag behind actual policy. We shall see.

  8. Hi, does anyone know if you can get a marriage APRC if you are both foreigners (American). The case I’m thinking of is if you one you lived in Taiwan longer (husband 4 years vs. wife 2 years) and is eligible to get the APRC first, can the spouse also get a marriage APRC? Or will they (wife) need to stay on their own ARC until they, too, reach the 5 years to get the APRC? Thanks!

    • Good question. Our understanding of the law had been that the marriage visa is a benefit offered to a foreigner specifically when they marry a Taiwanese. As far as we know, this benefit doesn’t extend to a foreign-foreign couple. But if you end up finding out otherwise, please do come back and share it with us!

  9. It seems strange that you can’t switch from a work-based ARC to a marriage-based ARC without resetting the clock. I’m in a similar position. I recently got married to a Taiwanese citizen, and was hoping to be able to make the switch without ruining all the progress I’ve made toward an APRC (already had one unfortunate mishap thanks to the immigration office not giving me accurate information, and it ended up setting me back by 2 years).

    Anyway, I was really hoping to be able to start doing some of my own projects on the side as soon as possible but if it means starting over at zero then that’s definitely not worth it.

    • We’ve heard both things, that you can and can’t make the switch and carry over your time. Strongly suggest that you go canvas a few of the relevant offices and see what they have to say. And we’d love it if you’d report back here with your experiences. Good luck!

  10. Thought I would add that after reading the law about APRC that its interesting to note that it does not explicitly say that your 5 years needs to come from only one kind of ARC, just that it needs to be legal residence. I have also read of other people changing from ARC to JFRV without resetting their clock. It may be to do with an interpretation or it could be to do with people switching to JFRV and not managing to maintain the average monthly income of 2x minimum wage.

  11. Wow…I really hope switching from the work ARC to the marriage ARC does not reset the clock! No one mentioned this to me before. Not my employer nor the immigration office. Next month will be the end of my fifth year living and working in Taiwan, 350+ days each year, and I was planning to apply for my APRC. However…I married a Taiwanese citizen one year ago and adjusted my ARC to reflect my marriage because I was told by the Household Registration Office that this was part of the process. Grrr. I have never heard of a JFRV but what the immigration office did was change the reason for me being in Taiwan from my employer’s name to my husband’s name. My ARC does not look any different otherwise. I hope that did not screw me over.

  12. Have a question a little entangled please bare with me.
    Being married to a Taiwanese woman and the relation have turned abusive (in my direction) and she is worried that after 5 years on jfrv-arc I switch to aprc and she (and her family) can’t use the jrfv as bargain, and I just recently learned that I could have applied for Taiwan ID almost 2 years ago (she apparently kept this info for herself). So I’m about to apply for Taiwan ID-citizenship but it takes a whole year to actually get it done, but at the same time the situation at home is getting out of hand, perhaps on a last intent to remain control or ruin everything for me. My safest bet would be apply right now for aprc but would I be able to apply for ID as well if I stick around? Also does marriage-aprc requires the tax documents? And also a bit related, if I apply for ID, can I leave the country for a couple of months in the wait year?

    • There’s a lot to unpack here, and we’re sorry to hear that you find yourself in a tough situation. We may have answers for a couple of your points above, but it would really be best to reach out to a professional on this one. You may want to inquire with a visa service like EZ Permit and/or a lawyer (which we’d recommend), such as Winkler Partners. Good luck in your pursuit of answers.

  13. Hi, thanks for the information, however I’m more confused than ever after reading the comments!

    Regarding professional APRC, do you have to stay in the country over 183 days? Or just 1 day every five years? Very confused about this?

    Is there any official information about this online?


  14. I received my APRC after working for 5 years. A couple of years later I planned to leave Taiwan. Before I left I notified the immigration office of my absence for a prolonged period of time. It was duly noted and forms were signed and so my APRC remained valid for the 3 years I was out of the country. It would have remained valid for almost 5 years. I would have had to be back for at least 1 day before the end of 5 years to be able to keep it valid.

    • Hi Tania
      Brauchst du Kein Sorge machen .
      Article 18
      Where a foreign professional, after having obtained approval for permanent residence from the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, leaves the State for more than five years without re-entering, the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, may revoke said person’s permanent residence permit and cancel said person’s Alien Permanent Resident Certificate, and the provisions of Article 33 Paragraph 1 Subparagraph 4 of the Immigration Act do not apply.

  15. I am about to get my APRC after 5 years on JFRV. Just curious, with the APRC, does it automatically come with the work permit stated on the ID or do I need to go to the labor department to apply for the open work visa?

  16. dear Madam and Sir.

    i am living here in Taiwan and i have received my APRC on normal working Basi which + 5 consecutive years . Now i have Heard that
    Normal APRC holder do not need to apply for exemption of Minimum stay 183 days per Calendar year .

    can someone help me here out ??

    please kindly update me on the lastest development ON APRC new Regulations and Laws 2020 .

    Thanking in Advance .


  17. Article 18
    Where a foreign professional, after having obtained approval for permanent residence from the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, leaves the State for more than five years without re-entering, the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, may revoke said person’s permanent residence permit and cancel said person’s Alien Permanent Resident Certificate, and the provisions of Article 33 Paragraph 1 Subparagraph 4 of the Immigration Act do not apply.

  18. Hi! Regarding the 1 day every 5 years rule based on article 18, is it valid for marriage based APRC or only for work based APRC?

    And another question please, Me and my fiencee have just arrived in Taiwan this week, she is a Taiwanese national and I entered the country on a visitor work visa, my company would like to get me the work based ARC, I’ve told my boss that I’m considering getting it myself based on marriage (Hence, will get married as soon as we finish quarantine), he said it’s fine with him, I said I will let him know. I have to get it in the first 30 days from entering the country as you know. What would be your recommendation?

    • I’m sure your boss would be happy if you get the marriage visa as I believe that ought to come with an open work permit(?). You should inquire about that at immigration. However, if you’d like to control your own destiny, so to speak, you should try to get your own APRC over 5 years of work in Taiwan using your jobs to sponsor your ARC.

  19. Hey guys, Thanks for all your feedback. Life moved in a different direction and I got engaged to my Taiwanese partner this year and we are already waiting to hear from the United States government on his fiancé visa as we plan to get married and live in the U.S. When I come back to Taiwan to visit, it will most likely fall within the 90 days tourist landing visa all U.S. citizens get. It’s not legal to be married in 2 countries, but in case I want to have the benefits of the Taiwanese healthcare system, etc. when I visit, maybe there is a way to have Taiwan recognize our U.S.A. marriage and get something from that?

    • I’m sure there are thousands of people in your situation. Probably best to check with National Immigration Agency first to see what rights foreign spouses of Taiwanese nationals are entitled to.

  20. I got my APRC in early 2020. I did ask the IM officer and she told me that for renewal, all I need to do is to visit TW 1day every 5 years. I hope this will help someone.

  21. If I’m working toward my APRC but want to get married to a Taiwanese person, do I have the choice to file marriage paperwork but *decline* the spousal visa?

    • Yes, you should be able to decide which visa you are on. Couldn’t hurt to pop in at immigration to ask about the intricacies of that. You wouldn’t want someone to innocently apply for your JFRV thinking they were helping you.

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