Philippine Woman Obtains Citizenship after Misunderstanding Naturalization Process

taiwan passport
Photo by SJ32, via Wikimedia Commons

A woman from the Philippines who had married a Taiwanese man 20 years ago was granted Taiwanese citizenship despite having only a semi-legal residency status for the last several years, UDN reported.

The 47-year-old woman, known in media as only Arlene (阿琳), misunderstood the process for becoming a naturalized citizen and assumed that it cost too much money to obtain. After her husband was killed more than eight years ago in a construction site accident, the woman had to find work to support herself and three daughters, all of whom are Taiwanese citizens.

Four years ago she moved from Changhua County to Taichung to find work. During that time she sold breakfast in Tanzi Export Processing Zone (潭子加工出口區). She said that she previously had an ARC, but found that it was difficult to find a job as many employers discriminated against her because of her residency status. Without steady work, it was difficult for her to pay for insurance or invest for her children’s future.

The Department of Household Registration was tipped off about an irregularity when her eldest daughter, who was 18 year old at the time, was registered as the head of the household. Upon inspection, authorities found that the woman misunderstood the process of becoming a Taiwanese citizen–she assumed it cost tens of thousands of dollars that she could not afford.

Although she was considered a “black household” (黑戶), or illegal resident, her situation warranted leniency as she should have been able to obtain legal residency and citizenship years earlier.

The Department of Household Registration assisted the woman in taking 72 hours of language proficiency classes two years ago and even helped locate lost documents required for the citizenship application. She was granted the permission to become a naturalized citizen in October and she will receive her national ID next year.

Arlene said that after obtaining her residency and citizenship, she feels a greater sense of belonging with her daughters in Taichung.

She said, “”I am grateful to Taiwanese people for their enthusiasm. It will be easier to do something in the future.”

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