Overstaying in Taiwan

The story began when I was about to graduate. At this time, I was not aware of some important rules about visa.

Knowing I would graduate in January, 2016, I extended my ARC when it was still mid-January. It had the expiry date of one year ahead (February 2017), so I rested assured.

February 3, 2016

After I graduated in the end of January, I quickly moved my belongings from the school dorm to a new place. Then I quickly flew home to Indonesia to spend Chinese New Year with my family, for one month.

Everything seemed to go according to plan. ARC date had not expired. I got a new place to stay and can stay starting from March, so that I can update my ARC “within 15 days” after I officially signed the contract with the landlord.

March 2, 2016

I flew back to Taiwan in the beginning of March, using my ARC through E-Gate immigration system. It was still cold. The next day, I renewed my ARC for the purpose of changing address (free of charge). I took the new ARC the week after.

March 31, 2016

My job search began immediately. I applied here and there using 104 website. On March 31, I got accepted for a job and I almost accepted the offer as well. Since the company required me to have a bank account, I attempted to open a new one in which the company appointed. The bank clerks took a look at my passport and ARC. They feel weird that they did not find any entry stamp to Taiwan. I told them that I always used E-Gate sytem. Afterwards, the clerks wanted me to provide some documents from the Immigration:

  • 入出國日期證明, proof of entry and exit.
  • 中華民國統一證號基資表, basic data of ARC holder

But since I had not prepared these documents in advance and it was Friday, I only managed to get these documents, but not opened an account yet. However, in the evening I got a better offer so that I rejected the previous one. These documents were not used anymore.

May 3, 2016

I spent the whole April contacting the company to take care of my work permit. There was no problem in issuing the permit, so I started my first day of work at May 3. Although the permit was issued, I did not immediately update my ARC since I did not know how I can go to apply when the working time of the Immigration overlaps with my working time. A week had passed and it was time to open a bank account. I showed my ARC and passport to the clerk and filled out the forms.

May 20, 2016

One week after, the treasury person contacted me that my ARC seemed to be invalid. I wondered what happened. I found a site to check the validity of ARC and I checked my ARC there. It was invalid. I was starting to feel that I was in trouble. So I quickly contacted HR to apply for leave and go to immigration. At this point, I only thought it was because I did not update my ARC after I got work permit, so I brought my work permit and attempted to update the purpose of residence there.

May 23, 2016

When I got to immigration, I filled the forms and showed the documents to the clerk. The clerk almost accepted my applications until I asked what happened to my current ARC. She took some time to check it, and found out that my ARC was overdue for almost two months! She also told me that:

  • My ARC was cancelled at March 31 by the school.
  • Since it was already more than 1 month overdue, I had to leave Taiwan, pay a fine while at the Taiwan airport, and apply for a new visa at overseas embassy.
  • After May 30, the fine would raise from 6000 NTD (30-60 days overdue) to 8000 NTD (60-90 days overdue).

I was dumbfounded. She cancelled my application form and return all my documents to me. I pleaded to ask if there was another way to renew my visa. There was not. I went home, shocked and confused. Whatever I decide, I have to decide quickly, thinking that after May 30 the fine would raise. I only took a leave for half a day, so I went back to work in the afternoon and told the HR all these information.

The HR persons helped me to search for a way to renew my visa. They called Taiwan Immigration Office, Hong Kong’s Taiwan Embassy, and Indonesia’s TETO. Eventually they told me that I can apply for a new visa at Hong Kong or Indonesia, and all the required documents. The required documents were not the same for each country. I chose Indonesia, since I did not have to worry about the accomodation while applying for visa. Surabaya’s Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) was recently founded and I thought I could apply there. What was left was when to depart.

There was a lack of necessary information. To be exact, the information provided on the websites and on the phone (which HR called) were not very consistent. I was not sure what documents I need to prepare, and whether I could actually prepare them. I needed to know what kind of visa (visitor or resident) I was going apply so that I can fill out the application form. It was confusing. I had no way to directly call the Indonesian office since my phone credit was low. I had to ask my friends in Indonesia to confirm.

I originally planned to apply for a visitor visa in Indonesia, then apply for a resident visa after I re-arrive at Taiwan. I was going for visitor visa first since I did not have time for health check and proof of good citizen, all of which needs authentication from Jakarta offices and will need 2-3 days, not including shipping time. Visa application itself needs 3 working days. I only have one week (5 working days). So I figured I cannot apply for resident visa directly at Indonesia office.

June 3, 2016

I also asked Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) about my case. They called me back and asked me in detail. They explained that I do not need to apply for visitor visa first. Just go for resident visa directly. They say if my work permit is still valid for more than 6 months, it should suffice for resident visa. I also asked that if I apply for resident visa I should have a health certificate. They said it should not be necessary, since health certificate is handled by the company already. I was even more confused which visa should I apply. So I just printed 2 kinds of application forms and brought whichever is needed later.

June 9 and 10 is Taiwan holiday, so the company opens at June 4 (Sat). I originally planned to go home from May 28 to June 4. Then the HR asked if I could adjust the travel date to June 4 – 11. The reason is that if I chose the former date, I would have to apply for 6-day leave, while the latter I only need 4-day leave. I decided to choose the latter plan, although the fine would raise to 8000 NTD, I would have been better prepared. I also applied for an additional half-day leave the Monday after (June 13) to apply for a new ARC and health check. The plan was made!

June 4, 2016

It was the pay day but I had no chance to withdraw it since I was going to depart soon. At Taoyuan airport, I asked the information desk where was the immigration service and went there. I saw a counter to handle the overstay problem. I told the clerk I overstayed and showed them my ARC. They looked puzzled and asked back why I said that I overstayed if my ARC’s date of expiry is still valid. I had to explain that my ARC was cancelled long ago and they went to verify.

The clerks returned a while after, explained to me that it was not permitted for me to even enter the country with that ARC using E-Gate at March 3 (when I last arrived to Taiwan). The reason was that I had no valid visa anymore. I had graduated. My study visa was no longer valid and so was the ARC. I should have used a new visa to enter Taiwan at that time. However, since I went through the E-Gate without trouble, of course I did not know that I was wrong. They seemed a bit upset and discussed it among themselves. Why did the system let me through in the first place, if it should not? It was because my school cancelled my ARC at March 31, although I graduated at January 31. So at the time of my arrival, the ARC was still usable for E-Gate, although my visa was not valid anymore.

I filled out the forms and paid the 8000 NTD fine. My passport was stamped with a remark explaining that I overstayed, had to leave Taiwan today, and not to come back to Taiwan without a visa for a year. I knew this was coming. When I was at the immigration gate, they checked my passport and the reaction was the same. They were confused that there were no Taiwan entry stamps within. I told them I always used E-Gate, but since my ARC was confiscated earlier, I can only show them the fine receipt. They eventually let me through and I finally flew back to Indonesia.

June 6, 2016

Having arrived at Surabaya the next Monday, I showed the visa clerks my documents and my resident visa application form. They quickly rejected my resident visa application since I did not provide health certificate. I was a bit surprised that the information from BOCA is not consistent with the Indonesian office’s requirements. So I applied for visitor visa instead. The clerks said that if I apply in Indonesia, I should use Indonesian standards. So even my 2-inch photo was not usable and I was required to come back tomorrow with 4×6 photo, and a copy of bank account book. A copy of bank account book was not even listed in the Indonesian visitor visa type A (working visa) requirements, so I was confused again. But I had no choice but to comply. I went home to ask for my parent’s copy of bank account book and went back to Surabaya the next day.

June 7, 2016

My application was accepted and I got a number. These were the documents I submitted:

  • Application Form (申請表), online submitted and printed
  • Passport (護照) and one copy.
  • Two 4×6 cm photos
  • Work Permit (工作許可函), stating that I am eligible for employment
  • Proof of Employment (在職證明書), stating that I am currently employed, with one copy
  • Employment Contract (聘僱合約書), stating the period I am employed, with one copy
  • Graduation Certificate (畢業證書) copy, since I graduated from NTUST, I did not need to authenticate this.
  • Academic Transcript (成績表) copy, together with the above
  • Copy of (confiscated) ARC (居留證)
  • Proof of Entry and Exit Dates (入出國日期證明書) with one copy
  • Record of ID No. in the R.O.C. (中華民國統一證號基資表) with one copy
  • Fine Decision of Ministry of Interior (內政部處分書), stating the period of overdue and the amount of fine, got this from the airport when I was fined, with one copy
  • Fine receipt, stating I have paid the fine, with one copy
  • Bank Account Book and one photocopy of the last 3-month transactions.

However, when I asked the clerk when I can take the visa, they answered that at Thursday I should have an interview first. The visa would be issued at the same day or the next day (Fri).

June 9, 2016

I went back to Surabaya for interview. I was the first interviewee. The interviewer only asked a few confirmation questions regarding my overstay, and he talked in Chinese. I explained as well as I can. He then told me that they needed a bit more time to confirm with the Taiwan office, whether I was blacklisted to enter Taiwan or not. I was surprised again, and asked when I will get to know when my visa will be issued. He said they cannot be sure, since they have tried to contact the Taiwan office but they had yet to respond. So he promised me if they managed to get in touch with Taiwan office this afternoon, they will contact me immediately. But most likely it will be the next day (Fri) or the next Monday. My flight was scheduled at Saturday, so if I only got the news at Monday then it would be too late.

I went back to Malang shortly after they told me that. In the middle of my bus trip, they contacted me. They told me that I can take my passport already. I asked about my visa. They said they cannot issue a visa, since I was blacklisted by Taiwan and cannot enter even if I have a visa. Damn, I was speechless but there was nothing I can do. My belongings were still in my room in Taiwan, and some of them were also still in my office. A lot of things were going in my head, but somehow I was a bit relaxed that a decision was finally made.

Luckily I have a friend who was planning to go to Taiwan soon. I placed my belongings in his care for him to send back to me in Indonesia.

June 10, 2016

I took my passport without visa and the original documents. I contacted my company telling about this issue, and also contacted BOCA asking about the details of my prohibition. The prohibition period and reason were not clear yet, and Surabaya TETO only said the period “may be” one year. I need to clarify whether it is really one year, and the reason of prohibition.

Believing there was no way back to Taiwan for a while, I contacted the landlord to report my condition so that they preserve my belongings until my friend takes care of it. I also reported this condition to the company so that they can take care of it as soon as possible. I also cancelled my flight back to Taiwan, which was originally on Saturday.

June 13, 2016

The company’s HR told me that they need to discuss this issue by themselves first, so I kept waiting for further news. The next day, the company told me that my working permit has been processed for cancellation, and I needed to sign a new contract to work remotely. I started working remotely using TeamViewer. It lagged too much that I could not do any decent work.

June 15, 2016

I got a call from Surabaya’s TETO again. This time they told me that they made a mistake. There should be no problem in issuing my visa. So they offered me to issue a visa within one day, free of charge (I have paid the visa fees earlier though). I was shocked and confused again. Immediately, I contacted the company again to explain this situation. They were also surprised. My working permit had been processed for cancellation already, so they tried to recover it.

June 16, 2016

I went to Surabaya’s TETO again to request for visa. I submitted my passport at 10 in the morning and received my visa at 12 in the afternoon. It was a Visitor Visa type A (white-collar workers), with 60 days duration of stay (extendable). I immediately returned to Malang and booked a flight back to Taiwan on Saturday. There were additional problems with the landlord though. Apparently they misunderstood me and rented my room to someone else already. So I needed to move to another room once I arrive (lucky there were still a vacant room).

June 18, 2016

At the airport, the clerk at EVA AIR check-in counter asked me to sign a statement that EVA AIR would not be held responsible if I was rejected in Taiwan’s immigration, knowing that I only have one-way flight ticket.

Arriving at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport’s Immigration, I encountered no big problem. The clerk was a newbie and they only conducted a bit of checking (asked for my ARC). They did not even ask for my documents. I successfully passed through the immigration and headed to Taipei.

June 20, 2016

Time for health check and applying for resident visa with ARC. I went to do health check first in the morning. Afterwards, I applied for Resident Visa and ARC at Taiwan’s NIA. It took 2 weeks to issue both. However, since I did not need to leave my passport there, I felt there was no problem.

June 21, 2016

Back to work, as usual.

July 2, 2016

Got my health check results, all passed.

July 4, 2016

Got my new ARC. Unexpectedly, the ARC number stays the same with my previous one.

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