Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

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Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby Omniloquacious » 21 Feb 2012, 15:26

One of the most significant issues that has been raised and discussed in this thread is whether or not Taiwan should change its law requiring renunciation of original citizenship for naturalizing foreigners. Some have expressed the view that it should, while others (particularly those who have already gained ROC nationality) have argued that there is no good reason for it to do so. I belong to the former camp.

A couple of years ago, as some may recall, I formally submitted a proposal for the law to be changed. This proposal was adopted by the CEPD’s regulatory reform committee, which pressed the case for it at a meeting with the MOI.

The CEPD represents the progressive mindset in the government, intent on opening Taiwan to the world and bringing it into line with international norms. The MOI represents conservative thinking in the government, intent on keeping things as much as possible as they are. The former has the backing of President Ma, but cannot always prevail, especially in matters such as this that aren’t being called for by powerful external voices (such as foreign chambers of commerce or governments) or by any significant constituency in Taiwan. My proposal lacked any such backing, hence the MOI felt able to reject it even though it could not come up with any but the most risible grounds for its opposition.

Here, for those who haven’t seen it before, is the English version of my proposal (which was presented to the MOI, with suitable adjustment, in Chinese):

Suggestion:

To revise Article 9 of the Nationality Act (國籍法), to rescind the stipulation that a foreign national who applies for naturalization must provide certification of his/her loss of previous nationality.

第 9 條 外國人依第三條至第七條申請歸化者,應提出喪失其原有國籍之證明。但能提出因非可歸責當事人事由,致無法取得該證明並經外交機關查證屬實
者,不在此限。
Article 9 A foreign national who applies for naturalization according to Article 3 to Article 7 shall provide certification of his/her loss of previous nationality. But if he/she asserts that he/she cannot obtain the certification for causes not attributable to him/her and the foreign affairs authorities investigate and determine that this is true, then he/she shall not need to provide certification of the renunciation of his/her original citizenship.

Alternatives:
Alternative 1: Delete the requirement entirely.

Alternative 2: Revise it to provide as follows:
Article 9 A foreign national who applies for naturalization according to Article 3 to Article 7 shall provide certification of his/her loss of previous nationality, unless either of the following situations applies:
(1) If the country of which the applicant is a citizen allows ROC citizens to obtain naturalization without renouncing their ROC citizenship, then the applicant shall not need to provide certification of the renunciation of his/her original citizenship.
(2) If the applicant asserts that he/she is unable to obtain such certification for causes not attributable to him/her and the foreign affairs authorities investigate and determine that this is true, then he/she shall not need to provide certification of the renunciation of his/her original citizenship.

Alternative 3: Revise it to provide as follows:
Article 9 A foreign national who applies for naturalization according to Article 3 to Article 7 shall provide certification of his/her loss of previous nationality, unless either of the following situations applies:
(1) If, with consideration given to all attendant circumstances on a case-by-case basis, the competent authority deems it consonant with the ROC’s national interests to grant a waiver of the renunciation requirement, then the applicant shall not need to provide certification of the renunciation of his/her original citizenship.
(2) If the applicant asserts that he/she is unable to obtain such certification for causes not attributable to him/her and the foreign affairs authorities investigate and determine that this is true, then he/she shall not need to provide certification of the renunciation of his/her original citizenship.

Rationale for Deregulation:

Other advanced countries do not impose such a condition for naturalization.

For example, in the United States, although naturalizing citizens are required to undertake an oath of citizenship renouncing previous allegiances, the oath is never enforced to require the actual termination of original citizenship.

As another example, the requirements for naturalization as a British citizen are comparable to the requirements for naturalization as an ROC citizen, except that there is no need to renounce other citizenships in order to become a British citizen.

Many countries, for example the UK, allow citizens to reclaim their citizenship after renouncing it. So a British citizen who is required to renounce his British citizenship in order to obtain ROC citizenship can immediately reclaim his British citizenship after obtaining ROC citizenship. This defeats any purpose of the requirement and makes it pointless. It just means that the applicant will need to go to a great deal of trouble and expense to first of all renounce his British citizenship and then reclaim it, but the end result will be the same as if he did not have to renounce it at all.

Similarly, many people already hold more than one passport. For example, a high proportion of Canadians, Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders, among many others, hold second nationality in the UK. Since the law requires them to show proof of renunciation of a foreign nationality, they need only renounce one of their nationalities and can still keep the other one. Hence, they will be dual nationals of the ROC and another country after naturalization, which again defeats any purpose of the renunciation requirement.

Another objection to the requirement is that it is applied inconsistently, with citizens of some countries being required to renounce, but citizens of other countries not being required to do so (because the proviso in Article 9 excludes them from the application of this requirement if, for example, their country of original citizenship does not allow renunciation). Such inconsistency is fundamentally unfair and contrary to the basic human right of equality of treatment under the law. Also, the consequences of renunciation are inconsistent, with some (e.g., British nationals) being able to reclaim their original nationality, but others (e.g., US nationals) not being able to do so. Again, such inconsistency is fundamentally inequitable.

Furthermore, applicants for naturalization who have renounced their original nationality must still wait for a considerable time before they obtain ROC nationality. During this time, they will be essentially stateless, which creates many difficulties and uncertainties for them, and puts them in jeopardy of remaining stateless if their application for naturalization fails.

Hundreds of thousands of ROC citizens have obtained citizenship in the US, Canada, Europe, and other advanced countries without needing to renounce their ROC citizenship. Those countries accept them as citizens without requiring them to give up their original citizenship. In accordance with the fundamental principle of reciprocity, the ROC should accord to foreign nationals the same rights and privileges that their countries accord to ROC nationals.

The vast majority of foreigners who apply or would like to apply for ROC citizenship have Taiwanese spouses. Their children born in Taiwan automatically acquire ROC citizenship from birth. In most cases, their spouses and children are entitled to citizenship of the foreigner’s country, and will usually obtain this very easily. But while the Taiwanese spouse and children can enjoy dual nationality without any obstacle or restriction, the foreigner cannot – under the law as it presently stands, he or she must choose between retaining his original citizenship and giving up the chance of becoming an ROC citizen, or obtaining ROC citizenship and giving up his original citizenship. His family members can be dual citizens, but he cannot. This is manifestly absurd and unfair! It can only have a negative and undermining effect on families that a new immigrant is debarred from holding the same dual nationalities as his family members.

The majority of applicants for naturalization are Southeast Asian or mainland Chinese brides of ROC citizens. Changing the law as suggested will not affect the number of such people applying for citizenship – they are sure to apply for citizenship whether or not they have to give up their original citizenship. But the change will encourage white-collar workers from developed countries, who would like to become ROC citizens but are not willing to give up their original nationality, to apply for ROC nationality. Most of these people will be highly educated and skilled, able to contribute significantly to the economy and society, and hence highly valuable as new immigrants. If they are discouraged from becoming citizens, and can obtain only permanent residency (which actually offers little in the way of permanence or security of residence), they are far less likely to put down deep roots in Taiwan, and far more likely to move back home or to another country.

Given the present state of international demand for high-caliber talent, and the competition among countries to attract prime human resources, such people will be able to live almost anywhere they choose in the world, and will be warmly welcomed and treated favorably wherever they go. Many of them have strong reasons for choosing to live in Taiwan, such as being married to a Taiwanese, having a strong interest in some aspect of Taiwanese culture, or simply feeling that Taiwan is a place where they are happy and comfortable and would like to stay indefinitely. But if they are unable to obtain citizenship except at the too-high price of losing their original citizenship, their connection with and allegiance to Taiwan will be greatly diminished, and they are far more likely to consider moving elsewhere if a good opportunity or reason beckons them to do so. The loss of such valuable human resources (including their family members) will be substantially negative for Taiwan, and will run counter to the government’s policy goal of attracting high-caliber international talent to move to and settle in Taiwan, to augment Taiwan’s human resources and enhance its multicultural vibrancy.

In today’s increasingly globalized world, there are no compelling reasons for retaining the irrational and onerous requirement of renunciation, but there are many highly persuasive reasons why it should be deleted from the law or substantially revised. It is a very simple reform, which will cost Taiwan nothing, have no adverse effects, and deliver substantial benefits for Taiwan’s economy and society.


Benefits to Taiwan
1. Enhancing Taiwan’s international standing as a country that abides by the principle of reciprocity.
2. Demonstrating to the world that Taiwan is a place where new immigrants are treated fairly, not subject to unreasonable exclusionary barriers, and accorded rights and privileges on a par with those of native-born Taiwanese.
3. Encouraging high-caliber permanent residents, such as business executives, professionals, entrepreneurs, academics, artists, and technical experts, to become ROC citizens, which will enable them to better integrate into and contribute more to society. Having the stake of citizenship will make them more willing to invest their money, skills and energy in the country. The US is a prime example of how greatly a country can be enriched by welcoming immigration of the best and the brightest from around the world.
4. Helping Taiwan compete with other countries in attracting high-grade talent to meet the needs of globalization. This matches a key policy goal of manpower planning for Taiwan’s economic development.
5. Bringing Taiwan into closer alignment with prevailing international practice in respect of requirements for naturalization.
6. Matching and supporting the basic government planning goals for the internationalization, international alignment and global linkage of Taiwan’s economy.
7. Reducing the administrative burden of the naturalization process.


Here are the MOI’s grounds for rejecting the change - their Chinese with my summarized English version and comments:
Those in charge at the MOI evidently don't want bignoses becoming ROC citizens and assimilating into their society, and they know that this requirement will deter all but a tiny minority of us from applying for naturalization, so they want to keep it in place. As far as they're concerned, it's enough that they let us obtain the very minimal and shaky rights of so-called "permanent residency," and there's no compelling reason to offer anything more.

Here is their official response, which they say is consistent with the position they took on this issue when it was raised during interpellation in the Legislative Yuan:

有關 貴會函送「工商團體及各部會所提財經法規鬆綁議題」中與本司有關議題為:建議以下列兩種方式修正國籍法第9條:
(一)刪除申請歸化應提出喪失原有國籍證明。
(二)增列申請人原屬國允許我國國民不須放棄國籍即可歸化,其申請歸化亦不須提出喪失原有國籍證明之互惠規定。
本司回應意見如下:
(一)目前採行歸化者須喪失原有國籍,即採行原則上單一國籍立法例之國家有日本、韓國、菲律賓、印尼、馬來西亞、泰國、中國大陸、比利時、瑞典、沙烏地阿拉伯、新加坡、德國、奧地利、義大利等,實非少數。故各個國家之國籍政策均有考量該國國情、歷史背景及社會資源等因素,並據以研訂符合國家利益及當前實際需要之國籍法規。
(二)再者,各國國籍法歸化條件採行之標準不一,有些國家採行多項條件兼容並濟,且各國國籍法亦常有修正之情形,倘一味追求平等互惠原則,除造成查證困難,其歸化條件須隨各國之國籍政策改變而變更,更易形成因原有國家國籍法規定不同,而生差別待遇之不公平現象,實非妥適。
(三)此外,89年2月9日修正公布之國籍法第9條,增列但書規定「但能提出因非可歸責當事人事由,致無法取得該證明並經外交機關查證屬實者,不在此限」。已可解決部分國家國籍法規定不得喪失其原有國籍及因相關政策不允許其國民喪失其國籍,而無法歸化之困難。
(四)另依入國出國及移民法第25條等相關規定,針對有長期居住我國之需求而不願放棄其原有國籍者,尚有申請永久居留證之制度。
(五)基於國家忠誠、減少雙重國籍者之考量,且慮及我國地區人口密度高,為提升國民生活品質,杜防大量外移人口,實有維持原歸化條件之必要。
綜上,修正國籍法第9條涉及我國人口、移民及國籍政策,宜審慎考量,爰建議無庸再行放寬現行規定。

As you can see, their arguments against the change include:

(1) Saudi Arabia requires naturalizing foreigners to renounce their original citizenship.

(2) Our national circumstances, historical backgound, and social resources make it inappropriate for us to give foreigners the same rights and benefits that we Taiwanese enjoy in their countries.

(3) Those other countries all have different laws on this, so how can we implement reciprocity? Yes, sure, we already do it for driving licences, real estate ownership, etc., etc., but it's bloody mafan, would require a bit of Googling, and could possibly impinge on our tea drinking and other far more important activities, so we're bloody well not going to saddle ourselves with any such burden unless we're absolutely forced to.

(4) We already changed the law once, a mere ten years ago, to make an exception for people who cannot renounce their original citizenship. Fer Christ's sake, isn't that enough?

(5) We're already being more than generous in offering permanent residency, and those bloody foreigners don't even have to give up their foreign passports when we grant them this oh-so-fortunate status.

(6) Our country's too densely populated already. If we allow bignoses who have already settled in our country to obtain local citizenship, we'll be overrun by them and it'll cause the country to collapse.

(7) How can we raise the quality of our citizens' lives if we allow bignoses to naturalize without giving up their original citizenship?

Pretty compelling set of arguments, eh?


Here’s the thread in which we discussed this in 2010.

The new minister of the CEPD, Yiin Chii-ming, has said he believes Taiwan has fallen a long way behind its main economic rivals – South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – in internationalization, deregulation and opening to the world. He believes that the government needs to place very high emphasis on rectifying this situation during Ma’s second term as president, and this will be one of his main goals as head of national development planning. He appears to have strong backing from Ma to achieve this, but many commentators still expect him to face great difficulty in obtaining the requisite cooperation from other Cabinet agencies. It will be vital for Taiwan’s competitiveness and future prospects that he makes good headway on this front. If he does seem to be getting good results, I may resurrect my proposal and try to win some support for it from other influential quarters, perhaps even having a tilt at gaining a sympathetic ear at the very top.
If I prioritized the acquisition of wealth above other purposes in life, I might still have come to Taiwan to study Chinese, but I doubt I would have remained here.
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Omniloquacious
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Re: Taiwan: Local Acceptance, Citizenship and More.

Postby Rotalsnart » 21 Feb 2012, 16:32

Omni, thanks for the info above and your work on this issue, which is of great interest to many of us.

Mods, could Omni's post here be moved somewhere permanent so that we can refer to it in the future?
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Taiwan: Local Acceptance, Citizenship and More.

Postby headhonchoII » 21 Feb 2012, 19:06

Good work Omni I think it's worth it to try again and again with these things.
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Re: Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby Mucha Man » 21 Feb 2012, 21:51

Yes, bravo. Even if nothing comes of this I enjoyed reading your proposal again. :)
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

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Re: Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby llary » 21 Feb 2012, 22:21

I was approved for ROC naturalization candidacy last year and already gave up my original nationality, I am currently waiting for the UK to send some documents confirming my renunciation.

I believe quite strongly that anyone applying for citizenship of another country should be required to give up their original citizenship. Naturalization should be seen as something very serious and more than just a way to live more conveniently in a foreign country. I do not agree that you should be able to collect passports like visa stamps - if you still have a strong connection remaining with your birth country then why is permanent residency not sufficient?

What is unfair is that some countries (like the UK) allow resumption of citizenship while others (like the US) don't, but that's not really Taiwan's problem. For what it's worth I have no intention to re-apply for British citzenship because it would offer me no benefit.

Apart from the renunciation debate Taiwan is quite lenient and efficient when it comes to naturalization. The process was easier than my initial visa applications 10 years ago and at all stages I was treated with respect and professionalism. More white foreigners than ever are becoming ROC citizens and the days of getting strange looks or raised eyebrows are long gone.

I don't think anything needs changing.
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Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby headhonchoII » 21 Feb 2012, 22:41

There are plenty of people in the world with allegiances and connections to more than one place, and there are also very good economic and practical reasons for many people to hold onto their original passports.

Besides having a passport is no guarantee of patriotism or anything really, it's just a legal document. Why put a needless roadblock for pettiness sake?
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Re: Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby alidarbac » 21 Feb 2012, 22:41

Omniloquacious wrote:The new minister of the CEPD, Yiin Chii-ming, has said he believes Taiwan has fallen a long way behind its main economic rivals – South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – in internationalization, deregulation and opening to the world.


Yeah, Taiwan has fallen behind these countries, but the official in the letter above mentions that South Korea and Singapore too (as well as China, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Italy) don't allow people to obtain citizenships without abandoning their native citizenships. And as much as I would love snagging a Taiwanese passport without having to give up my native one, I imagine there are about 19 other more important factors preventing skilled Western white-collar workers from coming here as opposed to just about anywhere else in Asia than "Gee whiz, maybe five or ten years down the road I can get Taiwanese citizenship."
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Re: Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby llary » 21 Feb 2012, 22:44

headhonchoII wrote:There are plenty of people in the world with allegiances and connections to more than one place, and there are also very good economic and practical reasons for many people to hold onto their original passports.


If you live permanently in Taiwan and have no plans to go back to your birth country for any length of time then why does it matter to give up your original citizenship? If you do have plans to go back in future then why do you need Taiwan citizenship? It's pretty easy to get resident visas or permanent residency in Taiwan compared to many other countries.
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Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby headhonchoII » 21 Feb 2012, 22:48

Obviously native born Taiwanese can hold two passports why can't immigrants? It's an old argument but very obvious. Anyway there is no coherent argument against regular people holding two passports.
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Re: Taiwanese Citizenship and Renunciation

Postby Mucha Man » 21 Feb 2012, 22:51

Well, for me, and I suspect a lot of others, it's because I have family in Canada and especially aging parents. At some point in the next ten years I may need to move back for an extended period of time. Possibly a few years. If I do that, I could lose my permanent residency here, and if I get a Taiwanese passport, I would not be able to easily return for so long.

The simple fact is, for most of us, we do have substantial ties in both places. It would be absurd, as Omni wrote, for my wife, and possibly future kids, to have no problem moving back to Canada to help take care of my parents, when I'd be stuck doing visa runs.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/

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