I recently posted on LinkedIn about my successful application for the Taiwan Employment Gold Card. It has become easily my most popular post ever, garnering views, likes, and comments from hundreds of people inside and outside my network. But I also got some questions and comments from people who had never heard of this card, so I thought I would take some time to share a little bit more about the Gold Card and why I applied for it.
The Taiwan Employment Gold Card (中華民國就業金卡) is part of the Act for the Recruitment of Foreign Professionals, which was implemented in February 2018. It is part of a wider government initiative to attract more highly-skilled foreign talent to Taiwan. The Taiwan government has identified several key areas which are deemed of importance to the economy, under which qualified foreigners can apply for the Gold Card: Science & Technology, Economy, Finance, Education, Culture & Arts, Sports, Law, and Architectural Design. Each category has its own set of specific requirements or qualifications under which applicants are assessed, with the assessments carried out by the corresponding government agencies or departments during the application process.
The card itself is basically a work and residence permit valid for up to three years (duration is chosen by the applicant and fees charged accordingly). It is promoted as a “4 in 1” card which includes a resident visa (your right to reside in Taiwan), Alien Resident Certificate (ARC; the card which proves your right to legally reside in Taiwan), multiple entry permit (allowing you to leave and enter the country as you wish), and open work permit (for most, the most important feature, as it allows the holder to work for any employer(s) in Taiwan without needing to be sponsored for an employment visa).
It is the last point which particularly attracted me to apply for the Gold Card. Some may not be aware that Taiwan has quite strict labor laws governing where employment visa holders can (and more importantly) cannot work. If you are a foreign worker in Taiwan on an employer-sponsored employment visa, you are legally only allowed to work for the company who in sponsoring your visa. Further, you are technically only allowed to work at the address which the employer has stated as their place of business and is therefore on your ARC (this is a technicality and very rarely enforced, but it’s there). You cannot legally freelance, take an additional part time job, or work for multiple companies. Most foreigners staying long-term in Taiwan will apply for an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) after residing in Taiwan for 5 continuous years, and with this comes the ability to apply for an open work permit from the Ministry of Labor, allowing the holder essentially the same working rights as a Taiwan citizen. However for those who have just arrived in Taiwan or have broken their ARC continuity before 5 years, they will be subject to the strict rules regarding employment. Having lived in Taiwan for many years, but never for 5 continuous years, I found myself still requiring employer sponsorship and unable to switch jobs without first finding another employer willing to sponsor my visa, or legally take on additional work as a freelancer, which does come up rather often when living in Taiwan.
The whole process is handled by the National Immigration Agency through their online portal and can be conducted from outside or inside Taiwan. It should be noted that the key aim of this initiative is to attract foreign workers from outside Taiwan to come to Taiwan to work. Despite this, if a foreigner already residing in Taiwan meets the criteria, there are procedures in place to receive the card in Taiwan and without needing to leave the country or re-apply for any visas or permits. An applicant needs to set up an account and then begin their application. Depending on the field of specialty under which they are applying, certain documents or certificates are required to be uploaded, along with all the other standard things like passport copies, passport photos, and personal details. Once the application has been submitted and payment made, the process is then passed to the applicable agency responsible for checking your qualifications against the application criterion.
Once the Ministry of Labor Workforce Development Agency has checked an approved your qualifications, the remainder of the process is essentially administrative checking of your passport and making sure there are no visa issues (also, issuing the resident visa if you do not already have one). Upon completion of the process the Gold Card application will be officially approved and the physical card printed for collection.
I applied for my card in Taiwan and the whole process took less than one month from submission to picking up my card at the immigration agency in Taipei. From abroad this will likely take longer as the checks need to be sent from your local Taiwan representative office back to Taipei, and then your physical card will need to be sent out to the office for you to collect.
When I first started researching the Gold Card, there was not a lot of information available. As its relatively new, not many people (government and agency workers included) are aware of it and may not be able to answer specific questions. Basic information about the program is available on the official website for the Foreign Talent Act. I’d also recommend this very long but also very informative thread on Forumosa (a forum for foreigners in Taiwan), with several successful applicants sharing their experiences. And for those who wish to apply, the application portal is here.
You should keep in mind that applicants will need to re-apply for a new card upon expiry (it cannot be extended), so they must still be able to meet the application criteria after already working in Taiwan for the duration of their first card.
It’s encouraging to see the Taiwan government taking steps to actively attract foreign talent to come to Taiwan, and I hope that there are more initiatives like these in the future to make it easier for foreign professionals to live, work, and conduct business in Taiwan.
This article was contributed by Trent Prestegar. Trent works in product marketing and is eager to expand his career options now that he is a Gold Card holder. For further inquiries regarding the Gold Card, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.