I thought it might be helpful to write a post about getting a spousal visa in Taiwan, as last year I was pulling my hair out over it and would have benefitted from a comprehensive blog post somewhere! My first piece of advice: unless you have all your documents together and your ducks in a row, start early. Like, 3-4 months before you need the visa kind of early, because you may have to mail things back and forth and run around getting things translated and authenticated. Trust me, this will give you ample time and will take away a lot of the stress. My second piece of advice: just take deep breaths. You can do this, and it’s gonna be just fine!
- What is a Spousal Visa?
- Documents You’ll Need For the Immigration Office
- TECOs (Taiwan Economic and Cultural Offices)
- Authenticating Your Marriage License
- Hit the Immigration Office
- Note about COVID-19
- Extra Resources
Almost a year ago, I decided I was done teaching, and that I was going to strike out on my own to start gaining experience in writing and launch a career, a step I was financially and logistically able to take thanks to the support and work permit of my dear spouse. Before applying for the spousal visa, I had gotten a six month ARC extension (you are eligible for the extension after working in Taiwan, for job seeking purposes. There’s a great article about how to do that here). About two months in, I started muddling my way through the process of getting my things together to apply for a spousal visa.
Note: This post is specifically for the application of a spousal visa with a foreign spouse, rather than with an ROC-citizen spouse with household registration – for information on this kind of application, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs website here. You will need additional documents, such as a criminal record check and a household registration certificate. However, if you were married outside of Taiwan then the information regarding TECOs, document authentication and translation may still be of help to you. If your spouse is an ROC citizen without household registration, then the application process is the same as it is for a foreign spouse.
So, without further ado…
What is a Spousal Visa?
A spousal visa is a resident visa. You can apply for residency as a dependent of a spouse with a work permit and ARC. This means you can legally live in Taiwan, and you can get health insurance through your spouse’s insurance plan (they will have to pay extra for you). However, while you are on a spousal visa, you are not legally allowed to take a job in Taiwan.
Documents You’ll Need For the Immigration Office
I had a hard time finding specific information on the immigration website about getting a spousal visa with a foreign spouse who has an ARC. The best list I was able to find came from the Taipei Mission in Sweden, of all places (thank you 🙏):
- A visa application form.
- Two 2″x2″ passport photos, taken within six months.
- Passport – original + one photocopy (valid for at least 6 months)
- Spouse’s ARC – original + one photocopy (must be valid for at least 6 months).
- Marriage License/Certificate – authenticated by the local TECO where the marriage occurred.
- Health certificate for Residence Application + one photocopy (issued within the last three months). ** See note below.
- Visa application fee. *** See note below.
- Return envelope if applying from outside of Taiwan.
**A Couple Notes About the Health Certificate:
- If issued outside of Taiwan, it must be authenticated by local TECO (for which it will need to be notarized, and the TECO will require an original copy for each authenticated copy you are requesting, e.g. if you need two authenticated copies, then give them two original documents. Source here.).
- This is, I believe, only necessary if you are coming from outside the country. I did get my health checkup and certificate completed, but the immigration office didn’t need it because I’d already been residing in Taiwan for two years. Check with your local immigration office if you are unsure.
- For more details about the health certificate, what tests are required, and exemptions, go here. (I was only able to find the relevant page via the internet archives – if anyone can locate the current page please let me know so I can update this information.)
***A Note About Visa Application Fees:
The application fee will vary depending on home country and circumstances of the application. For instance, because I was already in Taiwan and simply transferring type of visa, it cost me $800 NT. For someone applying upon entry, it may cost up to $4,640 NT. Here is a link to the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ complete document of fees.
TECOs (Taiwan Economic and Cultural Offices)
Now, it is important to check with your local TECO, as some may have slightly different requirements specific to what the Taiwan government requires from different countries. If you are applying for your spousal visa from outside the country, you will want to do this through your local TECO. If you’re doing it from Taiwan, you may still need to be in touch with the TECO representing the place where you were married.
Authenticating Your Marriage License
It’s much easier to do this step from the TECO location rather than Taiwan, so if you know you’re going to need a spousal visa (or even if you think you might) before you move, it’s worth your while to get your marriage license authenticated there. That said, my local TECO (the Denver office) was very helpful, kind, and responsive, and turn-around time for documents was fast, about three days processing time. In fact, I was stunned by how quickly they got it back to me.
There’s a whole new set of documents you’ll need for this process (via this list of requirements for document authentication from the Denver TECO), again allow me to stress that you should double-check with your local TECO to make sure there are no extra requirements:
- Two photocopies of each passport (only the photo page).
- Original certified marriage license + one photocopy.
- Completed application form.
- A money order to cover the certification fee ($15 USD per copy requested, may differ by country).
- Unless handling in-person, pre-paid return postage & a self-adressed envelope for international express postage (check with your TECO about the costs for this).
- You may need a translated and notarized Chinese copy. ****See section below.
Payments For Authentication
This is a short note, but important. The TECO offices (at least in the US) only accept money orders paid to the order of TECO. In the list of requirements from the Denver TECO, they also say USD Cashier’s Checks only. I spent a good deal of time scratching my head over the difference, and terrified about getting it wrong because of stories an experienced friend told me about only being able to use money orders from the US. I thought I was going to have to ask a friend or a relative in the States to get one for me! Some people have had this experience.
In the end, I was able to get a USD money order from the Bank of Taiwan with my bank account, and the Denver TECO accepted it. Just make sure that you check to see what kind of payment they will require.
Document Translation & Notarization
You also need to have your documents translated and notarized. Because I was already living in Taiwan, my TECO instructed me to do this part after getting my documents authenticated (my translation service correspondent told me that they cannot notarize non-authenticated documents), but otherwise this would be done first. So if you are doing this process from your home country, you may need to do this part first.
I went to Kingston Translation Services in Taipei, and would definitely recommend them. They were helpful, able to answer all of my questions, and made the process super easy. I simply dropped off the documents and went to pick them up about a week later. The translation cost was $500 NT, and each notarized copy also cost $500 NT.
Kingston Translation Services Co. Ltd
5th Floor, No. 65, Section 2, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City 106
In my research I also came across the Taipei company H.B. Lin Notary in Nangang – they can notarize documents, but do not offer translation services. They gave me a quote of $750 NT for up to three notarized copies (worth it if you want more than one!). There is also an online service, ImmiTranslate, but this is much more expensive and I would only suggest it if you don’t have other accessible options.
Hit the Immigration Office
Once you’ve got all those ducks in a row, just take your papers down to the local immigration office, give them some money, and let them take it from there! (And make sure you get yourself there with at least six months to spare on your spouse’s ARC!)
Note about COVID-19
As of 6/11/2021, Taiwan overseas missions have halted the processing of visa applications for the duration of Taiwan’s Level 3 Alert (currently extended until July 12th). Whether this will affect document authentication services, I’m not sure. Again, check with your TECO.
- Document Authentication links from Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
- Application Forms for Document Authentication.
- General visa information from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
- Foreigners in Taiwan hotline – you can literally call anytime with any question, and they will help you! Like magic.
Hopefully armed with this information, applying for your spousal visa in Taiwan will be smooth-sailing. I wish you all the best of luck! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!