More foreign residents have sought employment in Taiwan in recent years, and the majority arrive legally to work in a variety of industries, including the dominant industries of home care and manufacturing. However, as Taiwan has reformed its visa regulations to allow a greater number of nationalities to obtain visa-free entry, there has been an increase in the number of people who overstay or seek illegal employment. There are also those employers who attempt to skirt the law by hiring staff who do not have the legal paperwork to do so.
The National Immigration Agency on Monday, May 27, mobilized task forces across northern Taiwan to assist in repatriating 40 foreign nationals who had been found working illegally. The 40 foreigners deported set a single-day record for the agency.
The agency led an initiative on Saturday to locate illegal migrant workers across Taiwan, and has thus far apprehended 165 migrants in the Taiwan illegally, Apple Daily reported. The inspections that netted the foreign nationals also set a record. Of those arrested on Saturday, 74 were for overstaying their visas, while 91 were for working illegally, the National Immigration Agency said.
Yilan branch director of the National Immigration Agency Li Chieh-ying said that as further inspections are conducted, it is likely that more illegal migrants will be found. Those found working illegally in Taiwan will be returned to their home countries in a timely manner.
The Yilan County government said last week that 476 migrant workers in the area are unaccounted for since last year. Many are believed to have run away from their employers. Last month, ten Vietnamese and Indonesians were arrested for working illegally in Taichung.
Voluntarily surrendering for overstaying a visa carries a NT$2,000 (US$64) fine and a shorter ban on re-entering Taiwan. Those arrested face a fine of up to NT$10,000 and a longer ban.
Meanwhile, last month nearly 500 migrant workers marched in Taipei to protest the brokerage hiring system that they say is unfair to workers’ rights. Through the current system, workers must pay a fee to employment brokers for jobs in factories or as domestic helpers. There have been complaints of mistreatment of employees as brokers may not properly vet the employers. Workers are requesting direct hiring of foreign staff.
The majority of blue-collar foreign laborers in Taiwan are from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.