Showing posts with label aprc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aprc. Show all posts

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I am rather happy with this low-hanging fruit

Here are some of the really great (and necessary) things included in a bill being currently reviewed by the Legislative Yuan that will expand rights and opportunities for foreign professionals:

- Internship opportunities from recent graduates of "Top 500" universities
- A one-year job-seeking visa for foreign professionals
- A one-to-five year (depending on field) renewable visa/work permit bundle for foreign professionals that, after 5 years, confers APRC eligibility
- Tax breaks for people who are already high earners (meh)
- Foreign professional participation in pension programs
- APRC eligibility for the children and spouses of APRC holders
- Work rights for adult children of APRC holders with over 10 years of residency in Taiwan
- One-year visitation rights for parents of foreign white-collar workers

You won't find me spewing much invective for once - this is actually pretty good.

To be clear, at least one of these new perks is unnecessary: I see no reason to give major tax breaks to high earners who would presumably already enjoy a high standard of living in Taiwan. I am also not sure if "attracting more foreigners" is the best way to combat brain drain. Maybe try paying your own citizens competitively and providing them with enticing working conditions? Hmm?

Let's start with the good stuff first for once, however, before diving into the problems.

This is exactly the right way to go for the children of APRC holders. I dream someday of a Taiwan where they would have a path to citizenship (if not birthright citizenship, but even a pathway is something). I have a friend who was born here, whose home country and home culture are Taiwan, and yet who is not considered 'Taiwanese' because he doesn't have the ancestry. Of course he is Taiwanese, and the laws are unjust. He had to return to Canada for years before coming back here, on the same visa I held for years as someone with no prior connection to Taiwan. That's not right.

I have more than one friend who has had children in Taiwan. The older ones often leave, and those with young children worry about what their offspring will do when they come of age, if their native country is still saying "you are not from here and are not welcome here".

They need this. This is important. Every foreign worker thinking of staying long enough to have kids and raise them here absolutely needs this, and as a long-term expat myself, I know quite a few of them (as a married woman, although we intend to remain child-free, it would still be good to know our hypothetical children may fare better).

It is unclear of the adult offspring of APRC holders with over 10 years' residency must have lived here within a certain time frame - that is, whether or not my friend would quality, however. This ought to be clarified.

The work-seeking visa is also a big deal - I can't tell you how many people have taken jobs they don't want simply because they were worried about their visa. I can't tell you how many people had a few weeks or months of technically working illegally because the only way to get work here is to come on a tourist visa and then transition to a work visa, which takes time (this is technically illegal but the current regulations left most of us with little choice). This is truly an important step in ensuring that foreign professionals are able to come here without resorting to legal gray areas just to make it work.

The working rights are also a big deal, not only for children of APRC holders who would, one assumes, also be likely to have APRCs if they're old enough to work yet still dependents, but for spouses. A lot of - probably the majority of - spouses of foreign workers are wives whose husbands work - not allowing them to work essentially promotes gender role segregation that is entirely unjust in the 21st century.

And, finally, the one that might affect me: the pension scheme participation. I've said that the two main things keeping me from staying in Taiwan for the rest of my life on an APRC rather than as a citizen are, first, the inability to buy an apartment. I intend to work until I physically/mentally can't anymore - I actually like my job, after all - but where am I supposed to live when I'm too old to earn money and have no income? In my generation retirement savings that will last for the entirety of one's golden years is a pipe dream, although we do have savings. Paying rent is not really an option. What's more, it isn't particularly easy for the elderly to rent apartments in Taiwan. So how does an elderly non-homeowner without Taiwanese children stay here?

The second is pensions. Eventually I'll want to transition from the freelance work I currently enjoy to a more academic position. In, say, Canada (where my husband was born and therefore where we can live) that would generally come with a pension scheme. In Taiwan it does too...for locals or those married to locals. I am neither. I don't see, however, how I can stay when I might never be eligible for something I could get almost anywhere else I can legally live. So this really matters to me.

But, of course, the bill's provisions are not perfect. This wouldn't be Lao Ren Cha if I didn't complain.

I am not going to complain about money. Taiwan's wage stagnation is well-known. We all know that everyone, Taiwanese included, needs to be earning more. There's no reason to go into it further. Of course it's a problem.

Regarding things I do want to explore, it is unclear if the "foreign professionals" eligible for an employment card need the requisite "two years of experience in a related field or a Master's degree" to apply. A lot of people I know came to Taiwan before they had these things, and yet became valuable and contributing members of society here. Or, they had two years' work experience, but in a field they were hoping to get out of, not stay in (this was the case with me and my 2 years' experience in finance - a field I was desperate to leave). People often move abroad hoping to change careers, not necessarily continue them. That doesn't mean they aren't worth having in Taiwan.

I am also wary of the "Top 500 universities" rule. I understand why they are trying to implement it - they want some measure of 'prestige' for the people coming in - but leaving aside the impossibility of truly deciding which universities are in the "Top 500", what you are essentially doing is discriminating against those who weren't born into relative wealth.

On a First World scale, that means, had I not taken out heaps of loans (along with a scholarship and some family help) to go to my rather good private university in the US, my 'affordable' choice was State University of New York - and the one nearest my hometown is not one of the SUNY schools that is on this measure of world rankings. That would have meant that sound financial decisions - hey, I'm still paying off that student loan - as someone from a middle-class family that sometimes struggled would have rendered me potentially ineligible, for having gone to a perfectly okay and affordable school.

On a Third World scale, it discriminates, well, pretty indiscriminately. If you are from India, you would have had to have gone to an IIT - to be the best of the best - whereas in the US you could have gone to a better-than-SUNY-New Paltz state school and you'd be basically okay. For those from Southeast Asia, I couldn't find any universities outside of Singapore that would meet the requirements (Chulalongkorn University, for example, is ranked in the 600s).

It essentially says "Westerners welcome, the rest of the world not so much." Not quite "we don't want brown people" (plenty of Westerners are people of color) but pretty damn close.

A lot of my liberal Taiwanese friends say that while they have reservations about foreign blue-collar labor, they welcome foreign white-collar labor from around the world. This bill still discriminates against exactly those people. And how, if Taiwan's goal is greater links with Southeast Asia, is this going to further it, when most educated Southeast Asians would be essentially barred from the program?

And, of course, these goodies are only for white-collar workers. Our blue-collar foreign worker brothers and sisters are, as usual, left out and given the worst possible living and working opportunities in the country. They are basically being told "you can work here in a factory or as a maid, but while those wealthy Westerners can bring family here and even get them APRCs, you should leave your family in Vietnam/Indonesia/Thailand/the Philippines. They can have their parents visit for up to a year, but not you. You are lesser."

How is that fair?

And, of course, there are a few big things missing. I don't know what to do about mortgage discrimination as that's not a legal issue but rather an issue of banks being, well, unfairly discriminatory. However, it must be dealt with if we are to stay.

Another is that a one-year parent visa is perhaps insufficient. I don't intend to bring my father here to live - and in any case he's not elderly yet - but I know foreigners who are considering bringing their elderly parents here to care for them rather than moving back to the country of their birth. There is currently no visa for a stay of such indeterminate length.

There also seems to be a lack of a retirement visa. If a pathway to citizenship (or some other solution to everything keeping me from permanently committing to Taiwan as I would like to do) doesn't open up for us, we will likely leave simply out of necessity. However, I do want to live out my days in Taiwan - perhaps selling whatever property I may have bought abroad to buy a small apartment for us outright here. By then, however, we will have lost our APRCs. How are we to come back if there is no way to do so as retirees?

And, of course, we need a path to dual nationality - but we've been over that.

However, all of these issues aside, I am happy with this progress. I am especially excited for my friends with children in Taiwan who really deserve better for their Taiwan-born offspring than seeing them kicked out in their 20s. I'm happy for friends who may finally be free to search for a job without jumping through all sorts of sketchy legal loopholes.

A lot of these gimmes are low-hanging fruit, of course. I don't know any Taiwanese who would oppose allowing foreign professionals to have parents visit long-term, for example, or who would prefer that they come here and transition to work quasi-legally. I don't know any who think that children born in Taiwan should be forced to leave at age 20-26, and in fact, very few are aware this is even a problem.

So these are easy gifts - everything it takes very little effort to pluck off the legislative tree.

But you know what? I'll take it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Divided We Beg...or do we?


So, I'm not far from declaring officially, to my company, that I won't be signing a new employment contract. I'm posting this online because with only 2 months to go until my current contract is up, I feel it doesn't matter if they find this (although they probably won't). My decision is final. I'll be willing to work freelance for them if there are a few classes or seminars they want me to take (loyally renewing classes, for example, or seminars where they really need someone as deft with the material as me) but I won't stay on contract.

And that got me thinking: I have a friend who, although he does a lot of freelance work, is fiercely pro-union. He's something of a union organizer in Japan, and believes strongly in job security, well-remunerated workers, company-sponsored training and professional development and benefits packages that include fair compensation of annual leave and overtime limits/pay (he's also pro-single payer healthcare, as most of us Asia expats are). I'm totally with him on this - united we bargain, divided we beg and all that. Don't run, organize!

And yet, I'm still giving up employment under a contract and attempting to go freelance, at least for awhile. Why? If I really believe in all that job-security unionized-workers stuff (and I do), wouldn't I be looking for a job with more security, not less? I can't imagine what sort of work has less security than freelance work, and yet I do believe I can make a successful go of it while I start the Delta (I need time and flexibility for that) and look, at my leisure, for a job I want to take at a pay grade I'm willing to accept, with benefits that appeal to me - if I ever find it.

The thing is, my current job does offer flexibility - to me, at least. Not to anyone else. But if I tell them "no", they respect it. The pay is fair. Not as good as it could be, but my main issue isn't the money. I make enough. They generally stay out of my hair. I have to say, honestly, that this past year they've just about been good to me. They've treated me pretty well. I mean they still constantly screw up all sorts of administrative things and haven't quite figured out how to edit materials and keep the edits updated. It took them nine weeks (9 weeks!) to get a non-camera phone for me to bring to a heavily secure client site (I offered to get my own, but I wouldn't have been compensated for it). And they screwed over my husband vis-a-vis residency and work permits in a way that is totally unacceptable. I've stayed this long only because we agreed I'd stay long enough to get my APRC, run out that contract, and not sign another one.

So it's not really true that I am going freelance "for the flexibility", either, even if I am quitting some time after the fact as a direct result of how they treated Brendan.

I've come to this conclusion after a lot of thought: I'm going freelance because while I wouldn't mind a secure job with a salary and benefits*, I have found so far that there are very few companies to which I wish to be obligated. At least not in Taiwan. I mean, certainly when you agree to take on a course you are agreeing to a certain set of obligations and an amount of cooperation. That's not what I mean. What I mean is all the other stuff often found in foreign teacher contracts in Taiwan - from non-competition clauses to deposits (I didn't have one and would never agree to one, but they do pop up) to "we can sue you if" to all sorts of things that give the company power and give the teacher no agency. There is a lot in there about what the teacher must do, what the teacher owes the company, and what the company can do for itself, but often nothing about what the company must do for the teacher or what the teacher is entitled to as a paid employee.

Basically, so many contracts seem to say "We'll pay you X to do Y, and nothing more. We have the right to do A, B and C to you. You are obligated to provide D, E and F to us. You have no other rights. If you do anything we don't like, we can also do Z to you. If we do something you don't like, deal with it. No complaining." The buxiban I worked for in my first year had a contract like that, and my sister had to wade through quite a few preposterous contracts before she found a school she was willing to work for. Even then, it didn't work out - they still treated her (and everyone else) like wage slaves. (Her current buxiban is generally better, although she does not have two consecutive days off).

Wake up and smell the capitalism, I guess.

Why the hell would I sign something like that again, now that I have an APRC and no longer have to?

And as a result, despite my being pro-union and pro-job-security and pro-employer-employee cooperation, freelancing is more appealing to me than formal employment at one firm. No firm, so far, has proposed a contract that enticed me enough to sign it.

One reason, to be honest, I am not signing a new contract is that I see no reason why I can't do just as well taking classes with other companies. I understand why my company doesn't want employees doing that (I wouldn't either), but other companies pay better, can offer classes when mine does not, and so I don't wish to be an employee anymore.

I've met some good bosses in Taiwan - Brendan's current boss seems like a good guy from what I know of him (might be doing some freelance for them, fingers crossed), and the company I'm currently arranging some freelancing classes with for once I'm free are good guys, but the normal obligations of teaching a class are enough for me. I see no reason to obligate myself further. Fortunately, they're on board with that idea. I talked awhile back to another well-known business English outfit. They came pretty close to what I was looking for: paid time off, year-end bonuses, housing allowance, set hours with no overtime, fair teaching hours. At the time they had no openings - it was just an informational meeting - but I'd consider them, depending on salary offered. One turn-off was the fact that the paid leave was set according to their schedule; you really couldn't take time off outside of it. That would normally be fine as the time off given was quite generous, but if I'm going to go abroad to do my Delta Module 2, it may not work for me.

And for other schools and companies, if they can't or won't offer me a contract that gives me real agency, freelancing is still more appealing. I'll take freedom without security to employment without agency.

So, basically that's it. That's how this pro-union, pro-job security, pro-formal employment with benefits girl decided to forgo job security and formal employment with benefits and hit it up freelance-style. I hope things change job-wise in Taiwan for us qualified teachers (I've got nothing to say regarding 22-year-olds with no experience who are coming over for a few years of fun, although maybe some of them will turn out to be solid teachers and will stick with it, who knows?).

Until then, you can find me in my home office, doing my own thing.

*Some benefits bosses in Taiwan might want to consider when hiring qualified teachers: salary with set working hours, REAL year-end bonuses (not NT$6000, try one or two months' salary), regular performance reviews with REAL raises (NT$25/hour is not a raise, it's a joke), paid annual leave and paid Chinese New Year leave, training support - and not the "unpaid worthless training on a Sunday morning that counts toward no qualifications and isn't run by professionals" kind, but the "we'll support you in getting actual certifications and taking actual courses that count for something" kind). Offer me that and I might want to come work for you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beef Sashimi, Goose Liver Sushi and My Interesting Month. Plus Links.


October has proven to be quite the interesting month - I've spent much of it shuttling between Taipei and Donggang for King Boat, one of my favorite festivals, eating some really ridiculously good food and generally making merry. Here's a recap:

Beef sashimi
Last night we went out for beef sashimi at 無雙牛肉 in Yonghe, in a lane off Lehua Night Market (#24-1, Alley 6, Lane 111 Yonghe Road Sec. 1 - you have to enter the night market to get there). Although you can get it elsewhere, I'm sure, this was my first beef sashimi experience and I was pleased. The first plate we got was thawed, but served cold, and had a velvety mouthfeel. The second was more frozen - I preferred the first, but the slight crunch of ice with the second was also good. The chef is a real foodie and has lots of rules (sashimi before soup, don't harass, bother or disturb the boss, beef sashimi only on Wednesdays). Another good find there is the beef soup, which has a slightly cloudy but deeply flavored and textured, a real umami-bomb of broth.

Listen to the boss.

Another cool temple in Donggang
The week before that, I returned to 貍小路 (Tanuki Koji) on Anhe Road, one of my favorite Japanese-style restaurants (an izikaya, really), which happens to be very close to my apartment. Despite the price (you won't get out for less than NT$1000 per person unless you forgo sake, and why do that?), and the difficulty of getting seats, I absolutely love their food. The old Taipei Times review points to the potato, cheese and fish roe dish, beef sashimi and grilled fish as your best bets, along with sea urchin. The urchin is great and I always love the fish, but the beef sashimi is no longer available. My recommendations are the milkfish sushi, the stuffed chicken wings (stuffed with meat, fish roe and some red pepper for a hot aftertaste), the blanched tomato in sesame sauce and the sea urchin.

And then there's the one thing you absolutely cannot miss: the goose liver sushi. It's lightly seared goose liver (not sure if it's foie gras or just goose liver, and I don't want to know) with a touch of a delicious sauce served as one-bite sushi. It seems like a large portion for one bite, but the goose liver melts in your mouth and creates an explosion of earth-shattering flavor. Unless you're a vegetarian, you absolutely have to try it. It will change your life. Just don't sit where I sat: I'm pretty sure they had to clean that cushion after my visit. It was that good.

Between these two memorable restaurant visits, I went to the boat burning that marks the end of King Boat festival. Not only is it an exhausting, but fascinating and in some ways transformative experience to stay up all night on a beach full of people and watch a life-size boat (and huge pile of ghost money) burn at dawn, it also makes for some really cool photos. I'll wrote another post on that later.



After the burning, we slept in and spent the rest of the day in Donggang - I'll write more about that later. What I'll note here is that we ran into an off-duty spirit medium the next evening - I thought he was doing some sort of ceremony around the still-burning remnants of the boat and ghost money, but no, he was taking photos.

And then he let us do this (in fact, it was his idea):



As you can see, I am way more comfortable as 濟公 the eccentric monk than Brendan is. Clearly I am a kindred spirit to Ji Gong (hah!), no matter how unflattering his robe is on me. An eccentric monk with a benevolent heart who enjoys meat and alcohol? Sign me up! Except for the monk part.

Part of the "South Taiwan, So Cool" Exhibit                    
Before heading down for the boat burning, I stopped for a few hours in Kaohsiung. This doesn't get its own post because the show is over, but Pier 2 was having a really interesting exhibit on products designed and made in southern Taiwan (South Taiwan, So Cool!). Some of it was graphic design, with a huge display of southern Taiwanese graphic design from the 19th century up until modern times, some was artsy design or traditional cottage industry stuff (think Hakka Blue, Meinong oilpaper umbrellas), some was manufacturing (think Kymco bikes), some was local goods (think baked goods).


The entire exhibit was in Chinese, which was a shame - I can read but I'm slow, and I had to get to Donggang, so I only had the time to read a few plaques. Foreigners who can't read at all would be at a loss here, and yet I can imagine there are foreigners who are illiterate in Chinese but would be quite interested in something like this. Signage in English, even if it's kind of Chinglishy, would have been a good idea.

I also stopped at the Dome of Light just for fun - I love it and haven't been there in years - and got some famous Gong Cha lightly salted cream green tea (near MRT Yanchengpu). Now, I just found out that there's one right near my apartment on Tonghua Street, but at the time I didn't realize that and I thought it was all special. But I don't regret going all the way out there. That tea is GOOD!

Donggang's famous place for eatin' is Huaqiao harbor market (華僑市場), where I ate very well for those two weekends, ping-ponging between a guy with a truck that sells grill-your-own local fish, snails, cheap oysters (one serving is NT$100, three servings is massive) and handmade Taiwanese tempura (甜不辣) among other things...and Yu Nong (漁農), the best restaurant at the harbor in my opinion, which does a mean tuna belly and some fantastic fried fish balls.

In Donggang we enjoyed some good Vietnamese food, too - one of the best things about heading down there is enjoying the tasty and generally authentic Southeast Asian food available due to the large SE Asian communities in the area.

One small part of The Dome of Light
I also did what I would consider to be one of my best presentation seminars - I'd done great ones previously for some other clients, but this one really knocked it out of the park. We got a fantastic group of people from Moet Hennessy (the luxury conglomerate that also owns Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and other wine and spirit purveyors. I linked to Glenmorangie's Taiwan Facebook page because I heard a whole presentation about it the other day) who already had strong English and were very receptive to advanced-level skills, bonus lessons and tips, and feedback. It capped off with a 20-minute talk on whiskey tasting, delivered by a fantastic presenter. It went 10 minutes overtime (final presentations are meant to be ten minutes) but was so interesting that nobody bothered to stop him from talking.

It was much better than the time I did a similar seminar and got to hear a presentation about erectile dysfunction in obese Asian men at 9am on a Saturday in a hospital conference room. I'm happy that I now know a lot more about whiskey (which I was already a fan of, the peatier the better), but could stand to know a bit less about erectile dysfunction in obese Asian men.

Finally, I got my permanent resident certificate (woohoo!). They say the process is supposed to be quick. It's not, at least not for me. I started it in May and got the card in October.

Oh yes, and I met Jet Li.


I'll leave you with some links - 

US isn't doing so well in gender equality (duh)

An honest discussion of the wage gap

Sexism in the skeptic/atheist community: the scandal continues. I'm a skeptic and an atheist but not a part of the community, and not interested in being a part of it. This is a part of the reason (also, I just don't like joining groups. Dunno, I'm weird like that).

A really good answer to guys who feel they've been "friend zoned" - either be her friend, or don't, but make that decision for you and don't blame her for her lack of interest (but do walk away if she strings you along with no clear answer)

Boosting the birth rate in Taiwan (which I personally don't think is necessary beyond attaining replacement level birth rates)

Is paying a new graduate in Taiwan NT$20,000 a month for a 25-day/month work week even remotely acceptable? I don't think so, but the government doesn't seem too concerned. They keep the minimum wage at about NT$17,000+/month and don't seem to be doing much to address the issue. I might write more on this later.

Even Nice Can Be Annoying - a good answer to why women get annoyed when men hit on them.

Mitt Romney Greets a Gay Veteran, Has His Ass Handed To Him - Mitt Romney would probably not say right to a gay person's face, or address the LGBT community, that he supports continued discrimination against them, that he believes it is right and legal to restrict their rights and block legislation seeking to end such discrimination. That it's OK to treat them as second-class citizens because his religious opinion is more important than their rights. (If he did do that I'd still think him vile and bigoted, of course, but at least I'd say he's got a pair of brass ones, no matter how misplaced his ideas). Had he known that veteran was gay he probably would have changed what he said - to what, exactly, I don't know. If you're not willing to say something to someone's face, or address a group head on with your views, it is a good sign that your views are terrible.

Same for a lot of Republican candidates and legislators talking about women's issues, by the way. I doubt Richard Mourdock would go up to a rape victim who was impregnated by her rapist, and tell her how to feel (specifically that she should feel the child is a 'gift from God' - a god she may not believe in), and that feeling any other way is unacceptable to him because for some reason his opinion matters.

I do think there is hope for the Taiwanese economy (these guys are my clients, by the way, so I'm kind of biased). There may not be hope for wage growth or sane working hours, but I don't believe Taiwan's economic prospects are so dire as many locals believe.

"I'm feminist and it's tradition in China? On keeping your last name" - a great blog post by Jocelyn. Only one quibble -  it's not longstanding tradition in China. It's a relatively recent change, and even now the husband's name + "tai tai" (太太), a la "Madame Chiang Kai-Shek" was the typical form of address for a woman - among others that all stressed the husband's name over any mention of the wife's. Even in Taiwan many of the older women still go by their husband's last name. In our apartment complex, plenty of articles in our local newsletter refer to women with two last names - theirs and their husband's. I wrote something quite different awhile back, on how it's normal in Taiwan not to change your name, but I did. 

I am, however, considering legally changing it back and just going by my married name socially, as other than my marriage certificate, that's what I do anyway.

And just a final interesting photo:


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guess What I Have

This is now something I have!

Yes, I did just cut out this part of the photo, because I'm not about to put my personal ID info on a public blog.

But, you know, whatever.

*Does Permanent Residency Dance*

Here is how I celebrated:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Red Tape Diaries

This is Part I of a two-part post - the second section will come after I have my APRC in hand. At that point, I'll presumably have more to share.

Anyway, I've learned a lot as I've gone through the process of getting my APRC, or permanent residency in Taiwan (still not done - fingers crossed). The best compendium of info is here, on Taiwanease, although questions asked in that thread don't get many replies, if any (I believe that will change and things will pick up).

That said, that thread is huge, and there's more to say about the process than can be conveniently put in it - or should be. Personal experience doesn't equate to fact.

So, here's my personal experience.

1.) A lot of information is contradictory - 

One person I met with an APRC insisted that you needed to pay NT$12,000, elsewhere it says that it's NT $10,000. Another said you needed NT$300,000 in savings even if you met the minimum income requirement. Another said that you needed to have met the income requirements for the entire 5 years' you've been here, not just the past year. In one thread, it says that the translation and notarization of your home country background check must be done in the country of origin. Elsewhere it's pretty clear that it can be done in Taiwan once the document is TECRO-authorized. I've also heard that you need to do this all in person in your home country, whereas elsewhere I've heard that you do not.

So far what I've learned is that the fee is NT$10,000 but subject to change, you don't need to show savings if you meet the minimum income requirement of double the national minimum wage (so you need to be earning about NT$430,000/year, and this needs to be reflected on your tax statement so make sure your employer isn't under-reporting you), that you only need to have earned this or be able to prove you've earned it for the past tax year, that you can do the translation and notarization of your home-country background check in Taiwan, and that it is quite easy to have an intermediary do things for you in your home country, it just involves a bit more paperwork (generally filling out more the bottom of the forms).

2.) It's a good idea to check your status before you begin - 

The Immigration office tells you this, but I was so sure that I was fine that I almost didn't do it. When I finally did, I learned that they had lost - lost! - the record of my ARC for my entire 2nd year in Taiwan. Fortunately I had a copy of the ARC in question and that was enough to reinstate my record so I could apply for an APRC.

Which leads me to..

3.) If you hope to get an APRC or it's even a possibility when you first move to Taiwan, SAVE EVERYTHING!

That copy of one year's ARC really saved my ass. Without it, I'd be out of luck.

4.) Don't listen to the "expected timeline" for your home-country background check.

I can't speak for other countries, but the 3-5 weeks promised by the FBI? Bollocks! It took 6 weeks plus a few days in the mail, to an American address! Start way early with this - and...

5.) Do your home country background check first.

It's the longest part of the process and other documents get dangerously close to expiring if you wait too long. When you or your intermediary receives the clearance in the mail, start the rest of the process.

6.) The Taipei NIA office has a post office downstairs, conveniently close to where they do fingerprints.

So, you can mail out your background check application to your home country right after you get the fingerprinting done. So convenient.

7.) Prepare more than one fingerprint card -

The woman knows what she's doing but mistakes happen and coming back is a pain.

8.) If you get your health check for the APRC, it can't be used to renew an ARC, but if you do an ARC check and APRC check at the same time, you save money.

Most of the procedures are the same, so they only charge you for the extra blood and the extra processing. The fees for the check, X-ray, etc. are combined so you only pay slightly more than the cost of one check. -

9.) Many people say you can get a police background check in Taiwan (CCRD) from your "local" police office. This is probably wrong.

Maybe not, but my local office - Da'an, so not exactly the boonies! - had no idea what I was talking about when I went. I finally figured out that I needed to go to the large office in Ximen (MRT Ximen Exit 5, walk straight ahead one minute). You'd be well advised to just do this rather than wasting time at the local police office. Bring your ARC and passport. It's cheap and quick and takes just a few days to process.

10.) The Taiwan CCRD is a lot easier to get than your home country background check.

6 weeks and $18 plus fingerprints from the FBI vs. two days and NT100, no fingerprints, from Taiwan. Awesome! You don't have to rush as much on this.

11.) Everyone says "get the home country background check translated and notarized" but it's hard to find information on where exactly you can do that.

So I will tell you: there's a notary that advertises on Taiwanease here (Neihu), and another one near 228/Ximen: Chongqing S. Road Section 1 #121 7th floor #1 (台北市重慶南路1段121號7樓之1) - call (02)2388-8688 to make an appointment.

When I find a translation service I will update here. I still don't know where to get that done.

12.) Notarization is surprisingly expensive - 

NT$750, so make sure your documents are in order the first time. I was surprised because for a time I was a notary in Virginia, but I performed notarization duties for free for my old company (who sponsored me in getting the designation so I could notarize things for associates).

13.) If you have an intermediary pick up your home country background check and take it to TECRO, TECRO will want a lot of stuff, including a notarized authorization letter from you.

For US only: send your intermediary your signed application and have them fill in the bottom part, a US dollar bank check, money order or cashier's check payable to TECRO for US$15 plus US$38 if you want it sent directly back to you (if you have your intermediary pick it up and mail it to you, you don't need to include the US$38). You can get a US dollar bank check at First Bank on Heping E. Road, a short walk west from Heping/Fuxing intersection. Hua Nan bank should also do it. Fubon has weird rules and it takes a few days, but the First Bank gave it to me immediately.

Also send your intermediary a copy of your ID (I included ARC and passport to be safe), a letter with the address you'd like the authenticated document sent to, and a notarized authorization letter from you, allowing your intermediary to do this. If you have no idea what to say, pick and choose elements from the templates here.

You can get the letter notarized at the locations above. Make sure to have your intermediary's name in the letter as it appears on their ID (they'll need to bring a copy of their ID, as well).

14.) If your ARC is close to expiration, having an APRC application in process does not entitle you to extend your ARC, you need to do that through regular means.

I learned this the hard way - I thought that if I applied for my APRC before my ARC expired, that it would be OK because, with an application in process, they'd extend the ARC. No dice. So, get both health checks done at once and then extend your ARC as usual if you are in this position.

Or, do the APRC process when your ARC isn't close to expiring and save yourself a lot of stress. Learn from my mistakes.

15.) If you really don't want to extend your ARC (like, you hate your job and don't want to sign another contract but need to in order to renew), you can await an APRC on a visitor's visa.

Once the APRC application has been submitted, you don't need to continue to have an ARC - they will no longer care if you've had one "unbroken" for 5 years if they already have the APRC application. You can leave and come back on a visitor's visa as you await your APRC.

16.) I thought it would take just a few short weeks after applying.

Wrong. I haven't submitted the documents yet but I will soon, however, the NIA told me that once you've submitted, it takes up to a month for them to determine whether to grant you an APRC or not. If they say a month, plan for more (see above with my bad FBI experience).

17.) Keep copies of everything. Everything!

You never know when they'll come in handy. Never submit an original if you don't have a copy, and try to get two originals of everything.

18.) That thread on Taiwanease is just right when it comes to the order in which you should prepare your documents:

1.) Call Immigration to make sure you are eligible and have no outstanding issues (this really saved my butt)
2.) Get your old work permits and tax returns in order
3.) Apply for home country background check (inc. fingerprints)
4.) Prepare and documents for your intermediary if you have one
5.) Authorize background check at TECRO
6.) Translate and notarize background check
7.) While #3 and #4 are in process, get your health check and Taiwan CCRD (background check)
8.) Get your employment certificate from work (valid for only 1 month)
9.) Make copies of everything, incl. ARC and every page of your passport
10.) Call Immigration (NIA) and let them take it from there

Anyway, that's about it. The whole process has been quite illuminating, and not nearly as bureaucratic as I'd feared (really the most bureaucratic part of it is all the crap surrounding my FBI background check. The Taiwan side is surprisingly easy).