High-Level Professional

If you have spent at least five years in a row living legally in Taiwan (or three if you are married to a Taiwanese citizen), and have studied a bit of Chinese, you can apply for Taiwanese citizenship. You may become a full citizen immediately after application, without renouncing your existing citizenships.

Process Overview

The process for Taiwanese citizenship application as a High-Level professional is at first glance, painfully simple:

  1. Apply to your favourite (central) government ministry for a letter of recommendation that acknowledges you as a High-Level Professional fit for naturalisation
  2. Apply for naturalisation as a High-Level Professional at your local Household Registration Office.

It is, of course, much more difficult in practice.

The official instructions are available in English.

Recommendation Lettter

The key difference when compared with preparing a regular application is the Letter of Recommendation for Naturalisation of High-Level Professionals (歸化國籍之高級專業人才推薦書). The first step to take is to start gathering documents from across your whole career to support your application. You will need to construct your application based on the requirements of the ministry/agency to which you are applying for recommendation.

Read the Information Table of Recommendation for Naturalization for High-level Professional and determine which agency will assess your skills. Then call that Ministry and ask for advice about their process and additional information about the requirements.

Once you know which Ministry will assess your work, they will provide paperwork for you to fill out. At the very least you will craft an application letter on the official form introducing yourself, your skills, and your contributions to Taiwan.

The latter part is particularly important for the second step of the application process, since you will be assessed a second time by the citizenship committee in the Ministry of Interior.

Application Timeline

An application will take several months. It follows this basic timeline:

  1. Gathering documents for recommendation letter (2-3 months)
  2. Processing time for recommendation letter (1-3 months)
  3. Citizenship application (2-4 months)
  4. Post-application processing (4-6 weeks)

A key factor in the timing is in the Citizenship Committee in the Ministry of Interior that conducts the final assessment of naturalisation for High-Level Professionals. The committee meets once every two months, typically around the 25th of the month (February, April, June, August, October, December), but can also meet ad-hoc. If your application misses a meeting, you can be waiting a significant amount of time for the next one.

Residence Requirement

In general, you must be resident in Taiwan for more than 183 days a year for at least five continuous years, or three if you are married to a Taiwanese citizen. You do not need to hold permanent residence (APRC), but this does waive certain requirements, as does spending more than 10 consecutive years resident in Taiwan.

It is crucial that:

  • You are legally resident in Taiwan, with an ARC, for this time
  • There are no gaps in your residence (even a single day without ARC can render you ineligible)
  • The purpose of your residence is for professional work or as a spouse - time spent as a student, ‘blue collar’ worker, medical treatment, visa exempt etc does not count
  • You have not broken the law in relation to visas and residence (eg overstaying your visa)

You may apply at the National Immigration Agency for a “Certificate of Residence” that will provide the necessary details for your application.

Language Ability

You must prove a basic level of Chinese language ability in order to qualify for naturalization. You have two options: take a test, or study a certain number of hours in a recognised school.

The test can be of multiple choice written form in Mandarin or in oral form in Mandardin, Taiwanese, Hakka or an indigenous language. Either option is 20 questions, selected at random from a pre-defined pool of around 200. You must score:

  • 70% for a standard application
  • 60% if your spouse is Taiwanese, have resideded in Taiwan for more than 10 years, or were born here and one of your parents is Taiwanese
  • 50% if you are aged 65 years or older

Information about the test, including the bank of potential questions, is found on the Department of Household Registration website.

The alternative is to study a certain number of hours in a government recognised school and present a certificate to validate your attendance. You need:

  • 200 hours for a standard application
  • 100 hours if you were adopted by a Taiwanese citizen, were born in Taiwan, are the guardian of a Taiwanese national, or have spent more than 10 years in Taiwan
  • 72 hours if you have a Taiwanese parent, married a Taiwanese national(including if you are divorced or your spouse died), have Taiwanese children or are aged 65 years or older

Proof of Funds or Ability

If you already have Permanent Residence (APRC) in Taiwan, you are exempt from proving your personal finances. For everyone else, you must gather documents such as tax records, pay slips and bank statements that show you have one of:

  • A salary above twice the minimum wage (i.e. >NT$47,600 as of 2020)
  • Property or funds worth more than NT$5 million
  • A Taiwan-recognised professional/technical skill certificate or license
  • Proof you are employed in the high-tech industry

If you are married to a Taiwanese national or have Taiwanese children, requirements are lower.

Criminal Record Check

You must have a clean criminal record in both your existing country of citizenship and Taiwan.

You must apply for a criminal record check in your existing country of citizenship and:

  1. have this certified by the Taiwanese diplomatic mission responsible for that country/state
  2. translate the document into Chinese
  3. have the translated document certified by a Taiwanese notary public
  4. have the certified document notarized by the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Taiwan

Once your criminal record is issued by your existing country of citizenship, you cannot leave Taiwan, otherwise it will be deemed invalid.

Health Check

In most cases, you must pass a health check in Taiwan. Allow for up to two weeks to receive the results.

You can ask your local Household Registration Office for their recommended hospital, or check the list of designated hospitals.

Large hospitals in city centers are likely to have a dedicated health check area that is accustomed to performing the requisite tests for residence. Many hospitals only offer the service at specific times or require appointments, so calling ahead to check is recommended.

A specific form is required to be filled out and covers up to five examinations depending on your passport country. The CDC website has details of the required tests.