Ch.1- Three Major Ways Setting Foots in Taiwan Market

As the first Taiwan incubation center dedicated to nurturing talents from ASEAN and India, we have kept in contact with numbers of foreign startup teams. According to their experiences, they reckon that Taiwan has the top-notch science and technology personnels, which is catering to tech startups. However, visa is a big problem to overcome for international entrepreneurs. Thus, with an eye to attracting more talents worldwide, Taiwan government has launched numerous supporting measures and regulations to meet your needs. In this package, we’ve compiled three major ways: entrepreneur visa, Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals, and New Economic Immigration Policy (It’ll be reviewed by senators soon).

A Must-Know for entrepreneur Visa

To attract foreign startups, Taiwan has launched the Entrepreneur Visa since 2015, which develops a new path for global talents and enables Taiwan to link up with the world. The five must ­know focal points for the application of Entrepreneur Visa are as follows.

Currently, the Entrepreneur Visa in Taiwan is only applicable to foreign nationals and Hong Kong and Macau residents. Based on the number of applicants, the application is divided into individual application and team application {up to three people), and the applicants need to meet only one of the following criteria:

1. Received an investment of at least NT$2million from VCs or international crowdfunding platforms.
2. Has operated a business at national startup clusters or incubators.
3. Obtained patent rights registered with national or international institution.
4. Has won major entrepreneurial competitions at home and abroad.
5. Has served as a responsible person in an innovative enterprise and invested of at least NT$1million. (For individual application only).

Among the criteria, the second and the fourth ones are relatively easier to live up to. As for the so-called startup centers or competitions recognized by the government, you may refer to the official site, containing “Examination Directions of Entrepreneur Visa Qualification for Foreign Nationals," which from time to time will be amended or loosened.

● How to apply
No matter you are entrepreneurs from Hong Kong and Macao or foreign countries, before submitting your application, you should prepare the following required documents: visa application form, two-inch photo taken within 6 months, passport and photocopy, application categories for entrepreneur visas specified by the MOEAIC and applicant group letter of intent on cooperation. According to the entrepreneur’s identity and location, the applicant needs to submit the required documents to the adequate recipient:

After the application is approved by the MOEAIC, don’t forget to apply for the alien resident certificate at National Immigration Agency, MOI, within fifteen days after arriving in Taiwan so that you can stay in Taiwan for a year.

● How much time would it take
It takes roughly three weeks but the real situations depend on the completeness of your documents.

After receiving the alien resident certificate, can I take my family along
No problem! As soon as the application for Entrepreneur Visas passes the verification, the entrepreneur’s spouse and children aged twenty and below can apply for Resident Visas.

● What are the limits if you want to renew your visa in the second year
According to the regulation, if an international entrepreneur wants to extend the period of staying in Taiwan, they need to live up to the following requirements in principle, and the extension must not exceed two years:

  1. The annual operating income on average for the past one year or three years in lives up to NT$3 million or more.
  2. The annual operating expenses on average for the past one year or three years in live up to NT$1 million or more.
  3. Hire more than three full-time Taiwanese employees.
  4. The operational performance of other well-reviewed audits is confirmed by the authorities concerned of the target business, and the performance would contribute to the domestic economy.

    The qualifications for the extension seem to be much stricter. In fact, in order to maintain their flexibility, the authorities concerned have reserved spaces for the fourth point. If foreign entrepreneurs fail to meet the first to the third requirements, they can still provide evidence of successful operation to the authorities concerned and seek opportunities for renewal!

act for the recruitment and employment of foreign professionals vs new economic immigration policy

Almazing is STARTBOARD’s batch member, whose founders are both
from Malaysia. Both of them once studied in Taiwan and after graduation,
they applied for entrepreneur visa. T he second one on the left is the CEO,
Mr. Tang.
Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign ProfessionalsNew Economic Immigration Policy
● Foreign general professionals
These include teachers of school/cram school, sports, art, etc.

● Foreign special professionals
These include executives of transnational corporation, national level scholars or academicians.

● Senior foreign professionals
These include those with outstanding capabilities in unique technology, R&D of science and technology, or management work; those with special talents in the field of science, research, industry, business, or education.

Relaxation of regulations on work, visas, and residence
1. Employment Gold Card:
Foreign special professionals are able to apply for a four-in-one Employment Gold Card, which includes a work permit, residence visa, alien residency permit and re-entry permit.
2. Providing Job-seeker visas:
Foreign professionals can reside in Taiwan for at most six months.
3. Relaxation of regulations on permanent residency:
Foreign professionals who have received the permanent resident certificate don’t need to reside in Taiwan for up to 183 days every year.

● Easing of provisions concerning stay or residence of parents, spouses, and children
1. The requirements for spouses and children applying for permanent residence are eased.
2. The visitor visas for parents are extended to allow for a stay of up to one year at a time.

● Providing benefits on tax
Foreign special professionals whose salary income is more than NT$3 million a year can deduct half of their salary for taxation for the first 3 years.
● Foreign professionals
These include teachers of cram school and senior high school and lower, those with special talents in the field of technology, economy, education, culture, art, sports, and the others. Typically, if they stay for 5 consecutive years and 183 days on average per year, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence. However, overseas graduates enjoy reduction from one to two years.

● Foreign mid-level technicians
These include technicians, associate professionals, and equipment or mechanical operators. If they wish to apply for permanent residence, they must stay in Taiwan for 5 consecutive years, and 183 days on average per year, in order to qualify themselves.

● Overseas compatriots
Taiwanese nationals residing overseas without household registration in Taiwan, who possess an ROC passport and ROC nationality. If you want to settle in Taiwan, you’ll be allowed to do so as long as your residence meets one of the following:
• Residence lasts for 1 year and 335 days.
• Continuous residence for 2 years and an average of 270 days per year.
• Continuous residence for 3 years and an average of 183 days per year.

● For foreign professionals
1. Relaxation on job qualification:
The bill exempts employers from capitalization requirements, and evaluate the applicant’s eligibility based on salary, work experience, language advantages, education, professional licenses and other assets.
2. Benefits:
Easing the requirements on employers would make the minimum threshold of application for “Entrepreneur Visa" lower than before.

● For foreign mid-level technicians
1. Job qualification:
The proposed salary must meet a minimum threshold, and the applicant must possess a license or certificate of professional qualification. For example, the act sets minimum salary levels for technicians, associate professionals, and equipment or mechanical operators at NT$41,393.
2. Benefits:
The act encourages the enterprises to prov ide higher salaries to keep talented foreign mid-level technicians who have already gotten off on the right foot.

● For overseas compatriots
Relaxation of regulations on residing in Taiwan: the bill exempts the applicants from entry permits, and those engaging in professional or mid­level technical work in Taiwan may apply for residency.

Next Chapter: Ch.2- How international entrepreneurs establish companies in Taiwan