Recently there has been a lot of buzz about the Taiwan Gold Card: it was mentioned by President Tsai in her recent address at the TCA White paper launch event, and several Gold Card holders put together their own informational website. Now, Gold Card recipient Trent Prestagar, who previously wrote an introduction on what the Gold Card actually is, is back with an in-depth look at the application process.
This is a follow up to my original post introducing the Taiwan Employment Gold Card (I’ll just call it the ‘Gold Card’ from here on in). I have had lots of inquiries from people asking questions and advice about the Gold Card, many of which relate to the application process or eligibility. I therefore thought it would be good to take a bit of a deeper dive into how one would actually go about applying for the card, as well as checking whether they might or might not be eligible. I’ll also answer some of the more common and/or interesting questions I’ve had. It’s worth noting that I made my application from within Taiwan where I already held a valid ARC, so the process may differ somewhat if you are on a different visa or are outside Taiwan, I’ll try and provide notes where I can.
What is the Taiwan Employment Gold Card?
Put simply, the Gold Card is a special permit issued by the Taiwan Government to attract specialist foreign talent to work and live in Taiwan. The card is promoted as a ‘4-in-1’ and comprises an open work permit, resident visa, ARC, and multiple entry permit, which is everything that a non-citizen would require to legally live and work in Taiwan without requiring employee sponsorship. As I mentioned above, I previously wrote a post introducing the Gold Card, so for more information please follow this link.
Step 1: Determine your eligibility
By far the most questions I get about the Gold Card are relating to eligibility, and with good reason. It seems that while some eligibility criteria are relatively concrete (such as “Those who have held positions as an operations, technical, or marketing executive of an R&D center, operations headquarter, or transnational corporation established in Taiwan.”), others are less so, and open to interpretation (“Those with unique talents, outstanding R&D ability or innovation performances in forward-looking technologies such as AI, IoT, AU, blockchain, VR, robots, and additive manufacturing.”).
After that, if you’re still not sure, there is a dedicated contact for each eligibility category here under the Qualification of Foreign Special Professionals column. If you’re unsure it would be best to get in touch with the relevant contact from here and get more clarification on your eligibility and/or what types of evidence you will be required to produce for your application.
My application was rather straightforward as the required documents under my eligibility criteria were clearly stated and all from Taiwan sources in Chinese, however I’ve heard stories of applicants having to provide supplementary documentation to support their applications, especially if they had provided documents or certificates issued abroad when they first made their application. It might be a good idea to find out exactly what you need at this stage so you can assess whether the time and administrative burden of getting all such documents will still make the Gold Card worthwhile for you. Note that you only need to meet one of the criteria for your discipline, not all (eg: You don’t need to be a foreign academic from a top 200 university AND have earned 160,000nt per month), however I’ve heard of people applying under the salary criteria (160,000nt per month) and being asked for supplementary evidence of their qualifications under that discipline, or needing very specific evidence of their salary such as tax certificates (not just bank statements), so although seemingly straightforward this avenue might be tough if you don’t have the documents to prove your salary.
I should also add that one thing which makes conclusive information about the Gold Card so hard to come by is that the program involves input from many different government departments which do not necessarily communicate with one another about matters relating to the card. The National Development Council promote the program, but the National Immigration Agency (NIA) look after the issuance of the card, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) assess your eligibility to be in Taiwan and verify your passport, and the individual government bureaus or ministries relating to each category of special foreign professional assess the eligibility criteria. Therefore depending on your question or inquiry you will need to find the correct person in the correct department to answer you; there’s no central contact point unfortunately.
Step 2: Submit your Application Online
The application process in entirely handled online through the not-so-easy-to-find portal: https://coa.immigration.gov.tw/coa-frontend/four-in-one/entry/
Once you’re here, click on the orange ‘Employment Gold Card’ icon on the right, and then the ‘I want to apply’ button and select your application type (usually “Self application”). You’ll need to create an account to continue.
After you’re logged in you’ll need to go through the process of filling out your personal information and uploading the required documentation. You’ll need color scans of your passport, documents proving your eligibility, and passport-sized photo. Pay attention to the size and resolution requirements otherwise you may be asked to re-submit which will delay your application.
After your application is submitted, you’ll still need to make the payment, and nothing will move forward until this has been done. Select “Online Payment” from the menu at the top of the portal page and then choose the application file which you want to make the payment form. The payment process if you don’t have a foreign-issued credit card is quite convoluted and will depend on what online banking services or web ATM services you have available, or there may also be an option to pay at a convenience store with a small admin fee (I did this for an information update but I can’t recall if it was available for my initial application). The status of your application in the system will change to ‘Under Inspection’ once payment has been approved, the review process will begin and you’ll start getting email updates if and when you need to take action.
Step 3: Verify your Eligibility
The status of your application will change to ‘Professional Review by Workforce Development Agency’, which is where your qualifications or other eligibility will be verified by the relevant department. This is the part where people are likely to encounter the most issues and/or delays as this is where you may be requested to provide additional documents to support your qualifications if what you provided in your initial application was not sufficient. Just because you get asked to provide more documents does not necessarily mean your application will be rejected, but what it does mean is you need to be able to produce what’s being asked before your application can progress. This may be especially difficult if you are not in your home country and/or do not have said requested documents on hand. In my case this took around two weeks with no supplementary documentation being requested, but it may take longer.
Step 4: Verify your passport
Once you’ve passed the eligibility check your application is essentially approved and it’s just a few administrative processes which remain (so you’re still not guaranteed yet, but it’s quite likely). You’ll receive an email telling you to submit your passport for verification. If you’re in Taiwan, this will be at your local MOI Bureau of Consular Affairs (where locals apply for their passports, not where you go to get your ARC). If you’re outside Taiwan, it will be at your local Taiwan representative office and you may need to do this by post if not nearby. To do this, you’ll need to log back into the application portal and download the Passport Submission Notice from the Download section on the right-most side of the top menu. Print the form out and take to down to the above mentioned office with your passport. You’ll need to leave your passport with them for 7 days so make sure you won’t need during this time. They will give you a slip of paper which tells you when you can go back and pick it up.
Step 5: Pick up your Gold Card!
If all goes well with your passport verification, around the same time as you are due to go and pick up your passport, you should get an email saying that your Gold Card has been approved and it is being produced. No action is required here. Within only a few days of receiving the approval notice, you should get another email saying that your Gold Card is ready to be picked up. You’ll need to log back in to the application portal and print out your payment receipt from the same download section and take it with you to the National Immigration Agency office which you specified in your application to pick up your card (the same place you would go to apply for/renew your ARC). You’ll need to hand over the receipt and your old ARC if you have one (your Gold Card will have the same ARC number). I believe that if you are outside Taiwan there may be a few additional steps and you will also need to print out some kind of entry authorization so you can enter Taiwan and then pick up your ARC once you arrive. As a freshly-minted Gold Card holder you can now live and work in Taiwan without the need for employer sponsorship, and you can also come and go freely just like a resident (you can also apply for the E-Gates for immigration and use the ‘special lane’ at airport immigration).
I’ve not covered related issues such as spousal residency permits or NHI coverage in this post and I’ve not had any first-hand experience with these. If you are arriving in Taiwan for the first time you will need to apply for health insurance from the NHI and there may be a waiting period for you and/or your dependents depending on your circumstances.
I’m eligible under category A and category B, do I need to do two applications?
First, lucky you. Second, no. Just go with the category which you think you have the best chance of being approved or the strongest supporting documentation. Once you get the card you’ll have an open work permit, so you’re not restricted to only working in the field under which you applied. You could apply as a science professional and end up working in culture.
I’ve got X years of work experience at ABC company, am I eligible?
It depends. You’ve got to remember that the aim of this program is to attract specialized professionals in certain niche fields. For categories which do not explicitly state what kind of certification, degree or qualifications you need, in most cases simply having work experience will not be enough to qualify you, especially in sciences and technology. What will help you is proof of what you can do or have done: Patents which you own, publication of your work, research papers or projects which you’ve contributed to or similar proof that you’ve got a record of achievement in a certain field.
Should I choose the 1, 2, or 3-year option?
Go with as much as you can afford. Yes, the application fee for the 3 year permit is higher, but it also means you won’t need to apply again for another 3 years. Don’t forget that when you re-apply for the Gold Card you need to show that you are still eligible under the criteria at the time of renewal – it’s like doing a whole new application. I’d recommend that you get the 3 year card if you can justify the expense, however also remember that you won’t get a refund if your application is not successful so you need to take into account the strength of your application as well.
Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped to answer some of your questions around how the Gold Card application process works and who may be eligible.
About the Author
Trent works in product marketing and is eager to explore new career options now that he is a Gold Card holder. For further inquiries regarding the Gold Card, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.