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Taiwan: Nationality Act in Process of Being Amended

(Dec. 30, 2014) On December 17, 2014, amendments to the Nationality Act passed the first reading in the Legislative Yuan, the primary legislative body of the Republic of China (on Taiwan). The changes are aimed at, among other objectives, allowing greater flexibility in recruiting professionals worldwide to work in Taiwan. (Nationality Amendments Pass First Legislative Review, TAIWAN TODAY (Dec. 18, 2014).)

The legislation prescribes that “foreign professionals in the fields of the arts, culture, economics, education, sports and technology would not be required to renounce their original nationality while seeking naturalization.” (Id.) This provision is applicable “only to accomplished foreigners recommended by the government”; however, other types of applicants would benefit from a change in the Act that would grant them a year to provide documentation of having relinquished their original nationality after their Taiwan citizenship application has been approved. (Id.) At present, the Act requires foreigners to give up their original citizenship before they apply for Republic of China (ROC) naturalization, which renders them stateless and without any guarantee that their applications will be successful. (Id.; Nationality Act (Jan. 27, 2006), art. 9, Law and Regulations Database of the Republic of China (toggle for Chinese text).)

Another proposed amendment would permit immigrants who have citizenship rights based on marriage to an ROC citizen and who have minor children to apply for citizenship upon divorce from or the death of their ROC spouses. (Nationality Amendments Pass First Legislative Review, supra.)

The amending legislation also provides for a liberalized definition of “no criminal record.” It would allow persons with misdemeanors but no felonies on their records to submit applications for citizenship if “they have paid their debt to society for their misconduct.” (Id.)