The Taiwan Executive Yuan is considering easing immigration rules and providing assistance to Hong Kong permanent ID holders (Hong Kong residents) in a concerted effort to attract an already surging wave of immigration to Hong Kong. Based on immigration statistics from the National Immigration Agency (NIA), 5,858 Hong Kong residents successfully applied for residency in 2019, up 41% from 2018. And with the Taiwanese government’s exemplary response to COVID-19 combined with a friendly investment environment backed by transparent democracy, Taiwan offers an attractive destination for working people.
As of June 1, 2020, the laws and regulations pertaining to the affairs of Hong Kong and Macau (the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Act) and the regulations governing the entry of Hong Kong and Macau residents into the territory of Taiwan and the Permanent Residence Permits (the Residence Requirements) provide the underlying framework for immigration of Hong Kong residents. Although these two laws can be changed due to the Executive Yuan’s intent to further relax immigration restrictions, these currently enforced rules already provide several generous incentives for Hong Kong and Macau residents who are not available to foreigners; in particular, lower investment thresholds and the possibility of establishing a residence in a household and naturalizing as an ROC citizen after one year of continued residence. While there are multiple avenues to getting residency, we mainly focus on direct investment and professional skills for this client warning.
Direct investment and entrepreneur visa
Pursuant to Item 5, Article 16 of the Residence Regulations, HK residents can become resident in Taiwan after making a minimum capital investment of NT $ 6,000,000 (approximately US $ 200,000) to start, acquire, or enter a new business currently existing Taiwan investing company. Hong Kong residents must prepare a thorough business plan that clearly states that they want to invest their capital in Taiwan. Due to the high volume of applications, we assume that the Investment Committee (IC) will need at least 3-5 months to review the application documents. Once approved by the IC, HK resident investors can initiate the company formation process and then apply to the NIA for a resident certificate. In contrast, other foreign national investors must invest at least NT $ 15,000,000 (approximately US $ 500,000) before being granted a residency visa. After staying in Taiwan for one year, the Hong Kong resident investor can obtain ROC citizenship with all associated rights and privileges without relinquishing his Hong Kong resident status.
The Taiwan Entrepreneur Visa is another major avenue provided by the Department of Commerce that Hong Kong residents may consider and requires an initial capital investment of NT $ 2,000,000 (approximately US $ 60,000) from venture capital, angel investors, or Other start-up financing platforms would require applicants to set up a new start-up company in order to receive residence status.
In addition to using investment funds to gain legal residence in Taiwan, Hong Kong residents can apply for jobs directly as Taiwan has several attractive programs for working employees. The law on the recruitment and employment of foreign skilled workers provides for the following channels:
1. Plum blossom map
Foreign senior professionals with exceptional skills and excellence (such as winning the Nobel Peace Prize) in science, technology, research and development, business, industrial design, or other areas deemed essential by the relevant authorities for Taiwan can qualify for a Plum Blossom Apply for a card.
- Permanent residence.
- Open work permit.
- Ability to gain ROC citizenship without giving up HK resident status.
2. Gold employment card
The Employment Gold Card is used to recruit foreign special professionals “who have special expertise that the state needs in science and technology, business, education, culture, art, sport and other areas, as announced by the relevant central authority.” . At first glance, this definition looks similar to the Plum Blossom Card, but in practical terms the difference between a Foreign Senior Professional and a Foreign Special Professional is the level of performance. We reasonably believe that the Employment Gold Card option would apply to the majority of Hong Kong residents.
- Residence valid for 3 years (extension possible).
- Open work permit.
- Generous tax breaks for incomes over NT $ 3,000,000.
- Automatic enrollment in state health insurance for applicants and spouses / children.
Please note that the benefits of the Plum Blossom Card and the Employment Gold Card do not overlap and should be viewed separately from one another.
We’ll be sure to provide an additional update when the Executive Yuan announces further action, so please keep an eye on this area. If you are interested in learning more about Hong Kong to Taiwan immigration options, please do not hesitate to contact us.