Allowing Foreigners Change Status Without Exiting Taiwan 特允外籍人士於境內轉換簽證/身分

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Taiwanese government requires foreigners to leave the country if you are changing status (commonly known as visa run). For example :

1) Language school -> Bachelor -> Master: Not required.

2) Master -> Master (Different school) : Required.

3) Bachelor -> Language school: Required.

4) Transferring to another school: Required.

Starting from March 19, in response to the continued spread of COVID-19, Taiwanese border is closed to foreigners, following lock-down of most countries around the world. 

Many foreigners' ARC expired, and the unexpected decision of the government prevented them from planning and going on a visa run.

March 31, the government announced a grace program for the foreigners who have overstayed until June 30th to turn themselves in and pay the minimal fine.

However, extension of visa for 30 days were given to those holding tourist visa. Up until today (July 21), 5 extensions have been granted to the people holding short term tourist visa and visa exemption.

Before June 30th, those with expired ARC had to go to Specialized Operation Brigades to turn themselves in and show a plane ticket of leaving Taiwan.

Instead of Taiwanese police officers checking foreigners' ARC on the street, it would be wiser and humane to acknowledge that the pandemic has just started in some other continents. If this Visa Run is so crucial, at least come up with a solution. Most countries are on lock down, and there's very limited to no flight operating. Even though there were flights, why should we risk our lives just to change school or changing status? 

Even if some of us managed to go for a visa run and are allowed to return to Taiwan, there is no guarantee that incoming people wouldn't contract the virus. Visa run at this time is a waste of time and money and puts national health and security at risk.

We are not asking for an amendment of the law, but only pleading for a throughout consideration under this unprecedented world crisis.

根據台灣政府規定,外籍人士欲轉換身分/簽證,需先出境並至有設置外館或辦事處的國家/地區辦理相關簽證再重新入境,如:

1.       語言學校 -> 學士 -> 碩士:無需出境

2.       研究所轉學:需出境

3.       學士 -> 語言學校:需出境

4.       轉學:需出境

 

109年3月19日起,由於全球新冠肺炎疫情升溫,台灣政府宣布外籍人士不得持觀光停留簽證或以免簽方式入境。許多在台外籍人士的居留證在此期間到期,且這無預警的封閉國境使得外籍人士無法以出境申請停留簽證(或申辦他種簽證)的方式重新入境。

3月31日,移民署宣布擴大逾期居留外籍人士自動到案政策,逾期居留之外籍人士於6月30日前自行至各服務站和專勤隊到案且出示出境機票者,僅需處最低罰金新台幣兩千元。於此同時,持短期停留簽證或以免簽方式入境台灣的卻可自動展延簽證效期,至今日 (7/21) 止已展延了五次,共長達150天。然而原有居留原因的外籍人士卻被視為非法逾期居留,更需強制出境。

與其要求執法人員於街上隨意抽查外籍人士的居留證,若政府可以考慮以特案方式允許仍有居留原因的外籍人士免出境轉換簽證,會是較為人道及明智的做法,尤其目前世界各地疫情皆不斷升溫,要求外籍人士出境並重新入境無異是為台灣社會安全和人民健康帶來風險。如果重新入境為不可或缺之步驟,政府應考慮公布相關配套措施。目前不僅各國不允許非本國籍人士入境、有飛行之班機更在少數。即使被允許入境亦有班機,難道真有需要讓外籍人士冒生命危險僅為了轉換簽證?真有必要置台灣的國民健康安全於此境地?尤其近來的確診病例皆來自被認定為「低中風險」且允許學生入境的國家/地區。

即使外籍人士真找到允許入境的國家,也有班機可飛,經過目的國的14天隔離、2-3天申辦簽證、返台後的14天隔離,不僅耗費大量時間和金錢成本,新冠肺炎的不可掌握性也讓人無法保證是絕對不具風險。

此連署的目的不是在於要求政府修改法條,而是陳請政府在全球疫情的特殊情況之下,能以特案方式協助外籍人士無需出境即可轉換簽證 (學生簽證、依親簽證等)