The Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) Resident Visa
Depending on your school, you may need to get an ARC before you travel to Taiwan, or they may have you come for a “visit” and initiate the process for the ARC if they hire you in Taiwan. In practice, most schools will hire you in America unofficially and ask you to take a leap of faith that they will provide an ARC when you arrive, as it is an easier process to get an ARC once you’re in Taiwan. The ARC is the Alien Resident Certificate, a little plastic card that entitles to you the Health Care card, makes your pay taxes, and gives you legal status to work in Taiwan. The ARC must be renewed after a year. If your school requires you to get an ARC, you must go through a physical examination and perhaps an interview at your nearest TECO office.
This little section is intended especially for those coming from America. Many of these policies and regulations have been mirrored in the experiences of my friends coming from Korea and Canada. Where there are differences, check elsewhere. This site is also not intended to provide information about procuring an ARC before arriving in Taiwan.
Single-Entry, Extendable Tourist "Visitors" Visa
If your school doesn’t require an ARC, you’ll still need a visa to enter Taiwan if you’re planning on looking for a job, initiating the ARC process, or staying beyond the small amount of time provided by your passport (varies by country). You must check with your country of origin, but most will let tourists come and receive a two-week visa for a small fee. Overstaying your visa, however, can mean fines (600NT$ at the airport for first offense) and, more importantly, potential refusal to give you a visa when you apply the next time. Applying for your ARC in-country takes a while, therefore, for your purposes, you will want to apply for a 30-day – 6-month, single entry, extendable, “Visitors Visa,” (“Tourist Visa”) which can be easily renewed while you’re applying for your ARC. If you live in America, you’ll need to apply to the nearest TECO (Taiwan Economic and Cultural Exchange Office) with the following materials:
Passport Photos: These photos are simple head shots like the ones used for your passport. You can have them taken at any drug store, but make sure the technician follows the required specifications: your head needs to be X centimeters from the top and sides. These photos generally cost 15$USD for 4-8. You only need two, but get 20-30, as you’ll need them for your ARC when you arrive and your health check and health card, and again if you renew the next year. You’ll always need these, so look sharp in your photo and get a ton of them.
Proof of Flights: To satisfy the requirements for your Visitors Visa, you’ll need to have an inbound flight and an outbound flight, to show that you’ll be leaving Taiwan. You have one of two options here: you can book a flexible, round-trip ticket to Taiwan, if you are worried that you’ll want to go back home. You may also simply book an inbound flight to Taiwan (Taoyuan, TPE) and an outbound to the closest foreign country, like Hong Kong ($450USD). You can cancel this flight when you have finished applying for your ARC. Flight costs vary, though from Michigan, the flight to Taiwan was $800USD. www.orbitz.com seems to continually have the best deals in this department, though some swear by www.kayak.com and www.cebupacificair.com.
Passport: The TECO office will need your actual passport, together with these other documents. Your passport will need to be valid for another six months and have a few blank pages available.
Visa Fee: Depending on your country of origin, there will be a fee for applying for the visa. Here in America, the fee is $131USD. Make sure you have a cashier’s check or money order payable to TECO in Chicago (or whatever city) for this fee, as personal checks will not be accepted.
Visa Application Form: This form indicates which visa you’re applying for and some basic information. Where it indicates purpose of travel, remember that you are in fact not going for a job, but rather just to “see the country.” Perhaps you will get hired, who knows? Rarely a travel itinerary is even required by the TECO office, so be prepared to provide one if they ask.
Bank Statement: You will need a statement showing you have at least $USD 2,000 to prove that you won’t starve or do something awful if you get into trouble. Print one out at your bank or online and send it with your other forms.
Pre-paid Return Envelope: Make sure you mail this certified mail, and don’t skimp, as you don’t want your passport getting lost in the mail. Include a pre-paid return envelope so that you can receive all these materials back. Your visa will be found inside your passport.
To find the closest TECO office in the US or Canada, use this handy site. Try to find the web site of the closest TECO office, but as it seems they all offer the same information, and not all of the TECO offices have fully-developed web sites, look at the Houston TECO office for some more detailed information. If in doubt, of course, you can always use the phone to call the local office. It takes a day or two to approve or deny your VISA, though if you have no criminal record and have faithfully submitted the forms correctly, you can hope for good things. You must also factor in the time it takes the VISA to return by mail, so get on this process post-haste!
Another VISA Outline