New immigrants unhappy with amended naturalization rules

Several new immigrants groups on Monday expressed their dissatisfaction with the newly amended Nationality Act, saying they still felt belittled even as lawmakers saw the revisions as boosting foreign spouses rights in Taiwan.

Speaking at the Legislative Yuan, representatives of the groups, including New Immigrants Labor Rights Association Chairwoman Liu Qian from China, said they have not felt the sincerity of the government despite the changes made to ease restrictions on the naturalization of foreign spouses.

Among the revisions, foreign spouses who apply for naturalization are no longer required to provide proof they have the financial means or professional skills to support themselves, as had previously been required under Article 3 of the act.

Foreign spouses also now only need to renounce their citizenship in their home country within a year after becoming naturalized in Taiwan. In the past, they were required to renounce their original nationality before applying for ROC nationality.

Another change allows foreign spouses who get divorced after suffering from domestic violence and do not remarry or who still live with and take care of other family members after their Taiwanese spouses die, to stay in Taiwan and remain eligible for naturalization.

Despite these changes, however, Liu criticized the amended act for requiring foreign spouses to provide evidence they have no criminal record and wait for at least 10 years after they are naturalized if they want to run for public office.

“We haven’t sensed the sincerity of the government,” she said, asking “why is the government always calling for diversity yet vigorously being on guard against us?”

Lee Pei-hsiang from Cambodia, executive secretary of TransAsia Sisters Association (TASAT), Taiwan, said some lawmakers proposed that the 10-year waiting period to run for public office be scrapped, but it was not ultimately removed from the law.

“I think this is very unreasonable,” she complained. “If I can get elected based on public support, then why not?

“I don’t see the meaning of such a restriction. Now that we have obtained an ROC ID card, we are eligible to take part in politics like other ROC citizens.”

Another TASAT member Hung Man-chih complained about the clauses that allow new immigrants to pursue naturalization even if they get a divorce or their spouse dies because of the conditions that have to be met.

“It is sometimes hard for divorced foreign wives to maintain contact with the families of their ex-husbands, not to mention the difficulties in providing evidence to show that they still take care of them in order to become naturalized,” Hung said.

These new immigrants representatives called on the government to review some of the controversial provisions to address their misgivings in order to establish a fair legal system and fully protect their rights.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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