By Roy Mabasa
Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA) on Sunday launched the Overstayers Voluntary Departure Program, a five-month amnesty program to encourage all foreign nationals illegally staying there to surrender to authorities or face stiff penalties.
In a press conference, the NIA invited representatives from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam to urge their citizens to avail of the one-time program.
For the whole month of January 2019, the Taiwanese government will promote the program to disseminate its key elements to the public, to be immediately followed by its full implementation from February 1 to June 30.
As of October 2018, the NIA said there are an estimated 88,000 overstayers in Taiwan.
Under the mechanism, overstayers who voluntarily surrender during the five-month period will not be detained, but will pay a maximum overstay fine of NTD 2,000 and a shorter entry ban.
For those who will be arrested by authorities outside the program, they will receive a more severe punishment, unspecified length of detention, severe overstay fines and a longer entry ban.
NIA Director-General Chiu Feng-Kuang noted that, under the current trends of globalization and internationalization, population movement across countries has become increasingly frequent, and Taiwan, as well as other countries, faces a similar problem – an increase of overstayers.
Furthermore, the Taiwan government also sought the participation of its citizens to encourage overstayers to surrender to prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking or maltreated by their employers. They are also urged to report on illegal employers and agencies.
Once verified, Taiwan’s NIA will assist the informant in applying for a hefty reward from labor affairs authorities.
According to the NIA, it is possible that the continued increase of overstayers might result in concerns for social security.
Taiwan has been implementing a voluntary surrender mechanism since 2011 and has seen decent results over the years.