National without household registration
|National without household registration|
A national without household registration (abbreviated NWOHR) is a person with Republic of China nationality who does not have household registration in Taiwan. Nationals with this status are subject to immigration controls when entering the Taiwan Area and do not have automatic right of abode there. These individuals are not entitled to vote in Taiwanese elections, but are exempt from conscription. About 60,000 NWOHRs currently hold Taiwanese passports with this status and enjoy consular protection when traveling abroad.
The Republic of China (ROC) governed mainland China from 1912 to 1949. The islands of Taiwan and Penghu were ceded to the Empire of Japan in 1895 by Qing China, the last ruling dynastic Chinese regime, following its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War. Control of these islands was transferred to the ROC in 1945 after the Second World War. Near the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalist government was forced to retreat to Taiwan by the Communist Party, which subsequently established the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Since the conclusion of the war, the ROC has controlled only the Taiwan Area.
The ROC maintains the one-China policy and continues to constitutionally claim areas under PRC control (mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau) as part of its territory. Because of this, Taiwan treats residents of those areas as ROC nationals. Additionally, because Taiwanese nationality law operates under the principle of jus sanguinis, overseas Chinese and Taiwanese are also regarded as nationals. However, these nationals do not automatically have household registration in Taiwan and cannot exercise the same rights as local citizens. Full citizenship rights, including right of abode and voting, are only conferred on nationals who have been registered.
Nationals of Mongolia, which was part of Qing China until 1911, were also regarded as if they were mainland Chinese residents until 2002, when the Mainland Affairs Council removed the country from the administrative definition of the Mainland Area. Since then, Mongolians have been treated as foreigners and are required to apply for visas before entering Taiwan. Nevertheless, the area of Outer Mongolia remains officially part of ROC territorial claims.
Among the NWOHRs living in Taiwan, many of them are ethnic Chinese from the Philippines descended from ROC nationals. A significant portion also come from Myanmar and Thailand, where Republic of China Army detachments fled to after the Chinese Civil War.
Although NWOHR status only has one Chinese-language name, the Ministry of Justice has used several English translations. These include: "nationals without registered permanent residence in the Taiwan Area", "non-citizen ROC nationals", "unregistered nationals", "Overseas Chinese having not established household registration in the Republic of China", and "people without nationalities in Taiwan". The Taipei Times occasionally uses "nationals without citizenship".
Identity documents and passports
NWOHRs are not entitled to obtain National Identification Cards. Those who have resident permits in Taiwan receive Taiwan Area Resident Cards. In order to receive NICs, they must first attain household registration in the Taiwan Area.
Some NWOHRs are entitled to obtain Taiwan passports. Indeed, the Passport Act makes no mention at all of household registration as a condition for issuance. The Passport Act Enforcement Rules provide details on the issuance of passports to NWOHRs. Under Article 8(3) for official and diplomatic passports or 9(1)(2) for ordinary passports, persons without household registration are exempted from the requirement to present a national identification card when applying for a passport. Article 31 governs the Chinese name which may appear on an ROC passport held by an NWOHR; in contrast, other nationals' passports simply use the same name which appears on their identification card. Under 28(1)(5), the identification card number will appear on the passport only for persons having household registration. Thus NWOHRs' passports do not have an identification card number.
Special rules govern the issuance of ROC passports to ROC nationals who concurrently have status as Hong Kong residents, Macau residents, or Mainland Area persons as defined by ROC law.[Note 1][Note 2] Under Passport Act Article 9, persons who are Mainland Area persons, Hong Kong residents, or Macau residents, or have a passport issued by mainland authorities, may only receive an ordinary Taiwan passport with special permission; furthermore, under 19(2), the ROC passport of any person (regardless of household registration) who becomes a "Mainland Area person" shall be revoked. However, Hong Kong and Macau residents who established Overseas Chinese status before the end of colonial rule in those two territories are exempt from the requirement for special permission; instead, they continue to be governed by the rules applying to other overseas Chinese.
Passport Enforcement Rules Articles 17 through 19 provide further details on the issuance of ROC passports to Mainland Area persons, Hong Kong residents, and Macau residents. Under Article 17, ROC passports may be issued to such persons residing in Taiwan to represent the Republic of China in international competitions, or for other special reasons; such passports are valid for three years or less. Articles 18 and 19 authorise the issuance of ROC passports to Mainland Area persons, Hong Kong residents, and Macau residents who fulfill all of the below requirements:
- have permanent residence or long-term residence in foreign countries
- have resided overseas for four years, or are married to Taiwan Area persons[Note 3] and have children or have been married for more than two years, and
- have special contributions in the fields of politics, economy, social affairs, education, technology, culture, athletics, overseas Chinese affairs, religion, or humanitarian work
However, Mainland Area persons who receive a passport under this section must surrender their mainland passports for cancellation (Hong Kong and Macau residents are exempt from this requirement). Passports issued to such persons will be stamped on their final page with the character "new" (新) in the case of Mainland Area persons, or "special" (特) in the case of Hong Kong or Macau residents. However, by 2010 there had been almost no approvals of passport issuance under these provisions. Furthermore, persons acquiring ROC passports under these provisions still have a distinct status from NWOHRs from overseas who hold ROC passports: their entry permission continues to be governed by regulations applicable to Mainland Area persons, Hong Kong residents, or Macau residents as the case may be.
In 1991, the ROC government instituted tighter border controls which restricted the eligibility of NWOHRs to enter the Taiwan Area and obtain identification cards. Under Immigration Act Article 8, NWOHRs may enter Taiwan for visiting periods of three months, with the possibility of an extension for another three months. Article 7 allows immigration authorities to refuse an NWOHR permission to enter; Articles 14 and 15 permit the removal and deportation of NWOHRs who have already entered. Deportation and removal are further governed by regulations. Separate regulations govern deportation and removal of Mainland Area persons, Hong Kong residents, and Macau residents. From 1991 to 2011, governmental statistics record a total of 9,138,211 entrances to the Taiwan Area for short-term visits by NWOHRs (excluding mainland area persons, Hong Kong residents, and Macau residents). The rate of entrance has fallen significantly, from 1,444,830 in 1991 to just 19,679 by 2003, a level which has risen only slightly since then.
As of March 2011[update], in order to enter the Taiwan Area, NWOHRs with ROC passports require an Entry Permit, Resident Certificate, Overseas Community Affairs Council endorsement or letter, or a South Korean Certificate of Alien Registration indicating that the holder has an F-2 or F-5 residence visa. In August 2011, the ROC's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that NWOHRs would be freed from the requirement to apply for an Entry/Exit Permit (臨人字號入出國許可) when using an ROC passport to enter Taiwan. In 1997, when the 14th Dalai Lama visited Taiwan, the Kuomintang government treated him as an NWOHR and issued him an entry permit through the National Police Agency. However, when he visited Taiwan again in 2001 under the Democratic Progressive Party government, he applied as a stateless person and received a visa from the Bureau of Consular Affairs on his Indian certificate of identity.
Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau
Due to their lack of Taiwan Area household registration and National Identification Card, NWOHRs do not qualify for the special entry permit schemes used by nationals with household registration to travel to mainland China and Hong Kong. Application for a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents requires a National Identification Card, or for persons under age 16 a household registration transcript. Similarly, application for an Entry Permit to Visit the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from Taiwan for persons "who do not possess any travel documents which are acceptable to the HKSAR" requires that the applicant present a National Identification Card or a travel document which includes the identification card number.
For NWOHRs settled in foreign countries who wish to visit mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau but do not hold a Mainland Travel Permit, overseas missions of the People's Republic of China state that those holding foreign nationality should use their foreign passports, while those who only hold travel documents issued by Taiwan authorities should apply for a Chinese Travel Document. Those who will travel to Hong Kong must further apply for entry permission from the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Some missions (Atlanta, Perth, Sydney), as well as the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Hong Kong state that only a copy of the Taiwan-issued travel document is required to process an application for a PRC Travel Document. However, others (Brisbane, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Ottawa, Vancouver) state that they require a copy of a Taiwan identification card. South Korea-born, Japan-based overseas Chinese actress Hsing Huei-chun[Note 4] ran into this problem in 2003 when trying to apply for permission to work in mainland China; she ended up obtaining an Overseas Chinese Pass (華僑通行證) instead of a Mainland Travel Permit for that purpose.
Countries which grant visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to ROC passport holders may restrict this privilege to persons who are guaranteed to be removable to Taiwan. The presence or absence of a National Identification Card number in the passport is used to make this determination. As NWOHRs do not hold identification cards, their ROC passports thus do not get them visa-free treatment from a number of countries and territories, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Then-Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs Shen Lyu-shun stated that during the visa-exemption negotiations with Australia in 2010, he requested the extension of visa-free treatment to NWOHRs, but the Australian side rejected the idea precisely over concerns regarding lack of returnability. Similarly, the United States only grants visa waivers to ROC passport holders with an identification card imprinted in the ROC passport; bearers of an ROC passport without an identification card number are considered them to be stateless persons for visa-issuing purposes, and the Taiwan visa reciprocity schedule does not apply to them.[Note 5] NWOHRs using ROC passports to travel to Singapore must have a Taiwan Area Entry/Exit Permit (臨人字號入出國許可).
Residence in the Taiwan Area
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Immigration Act Article 9 gives the list of conditions under which an NWOHR may apply for a residence permit in Taiwan, including employment, study, and investment. Article 10 gives NWOHRs holding residence permits under some qualifications the right to apply for household registration after a certain period of residence. Regulations provide further details. Applications for residence permits and household registration by Hong Kong residents and Macau residents are governed by a separate set of regulations. Applications for residence permits and household registration by Mainland Area persons are controlled much more strictly, due to concerns over population growth, economic development, and social stability. An NWOHR who enters with a foreign passport or stateless travel document may not apply for residence or household registration, according to Article 12, unless that person has NWOHR status by consequence of naturalisation or of being born overseas to a national having Taiwan Area household registration. From 1991 to 2001, 141,660 residence permits were granted to NWOHRs, and 215,825 NWOHRs were given permission to establish household registration (thus ending their status as NWOHRs). Unlike the numbers of entrances for short term visits, these numbers have shown an upward trend since 1991, rising from 1,085 and 4,903 respectively in 1991 to 10,820 and 17,048 by 2010.
Many descendants of "forgotten soldiers" from Thailand and Burma entered Taiwan on forged or stolen passports, often to enroll at universities in Taiwan. Even if they were discovered, their countries of origin would not accept them for deportation as they were not considered nationals of those countries. In 2009, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Immigration Act granting amnesty to 875 undeportable migrants as well as 107 members of the Tibetan diaspora who had arrived in Taiwan from 21 May 1999 to 31 December 2009, granting them the right to apply for residence permits. The relevant provisions are in Immigration Act Article 16.
A foreigner who naturalises under the ROC nationality law initially receives a specific type of NWOHR status, known as "national who obtained Republic of China nationality by naturalisation but has not yet established household registration" (因歸化取得中華民國國籍但未設籍國民). A Republic of China national born overseas to a parent having household registration in the Taiwan area also becomes an NWOHR. However, under Immigration Act 9(3) and 9(1) respectively, such persons are entitled to obtain residence permits in the Taiwan Area without further qualification, and may obtain household registration after a period of residence. Immigration Act 10(3)(1) governs the period which such persons must live in the Taiwan Area before becoming entitled to apply for household registration: continuously for one year, 270 days each year for two consecutive years, or 183 days each year for five consecutive years.
Other civic rights and duties
NWOHRs are not entitled to national health insurance, an issue which sparked protests in 2010. Nor are they entitled to labour compensation if their employer does not take out insurance for them and they suffer occupational injuries, a situation highlighted by the case of Tsai Chung-li (蔡忠理), an NWOHR who lived in Taiwan for more than a decade but received no worker's compensation after losing his arm in a factory accident. In 2011, an NWOHR and a former NWOHR began gathering signatures to stand in the 2012 legislative election. The two, along with three foreign immigrants also campaigning with them, were not qualified to stand for election under the law, but gathered signatures anyway to raise awareness of their legal situation.
Based on Employment Services Act Article 79,[Note 6] the National Immigration Agency states that NWOHRs who concurrently hold foreign nationality must apply for employment permits in order to work legally in the Taiwan Area; however, NWOHRs who hold no nationality besides that of the Republic of China are exempt from this requirement.
Under Conscription Regulations for Naturalized Aliens & Returning Overseas Chinese Article 3, NWOHRs do not become subject to conscription until one year from the day after they establish household registration.
- Similar statuses under British nationality law:
- United States national
- Korean special permanent residents of Japan holding South Korean passports also do not have resident registration numbers in their passports, reflecting their statutory exemption from taxation and conscription in South Korea (and conversely, their inability to vote or stand for election there). In 2016, holders of South Korean passports are now eligible for resident registration numbers regardless of their permanent resident status. They are still exempted from taxation and conscription in South Korea, but they can exercise their rights of citizenship such as voting and right to work freely in South Korea.
- The definition of "Mainland Area persons" (大陸地區人民) is given in the Act Governing Relations Between The People Of The Taiwan Area And The Mainland Area Article 2(4) as persons having household registration in mainland China. See "臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例", Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China, Taipei: Ministry of Justice, retrieved 2011-12-22. English translation also available.
- The ROC's definitions of "Hong Kong residents" and "Macau residents", given in the Hong Kong and Macau Relations Act Article 4, are significantly different from and should not be confused with the definitions of those two terms given in local laws (Hong Kong Basic Law Article 24 and Macau Basic Law Article 24). The definition of "Hong Kong resident" is restricted to permanent residents of Hong Kong who do not hold any travel document besides a British National (Overseas) passport or a document issued by Hong Kong authorities; similarly, the ROC's definition of "Macau resident" is restricted to permanent residents of Macau who do not hold any travel document besides a Portuguese passport acquired prior to the end of Portuguese rule, or a travel document issued by Macau authorities. See "香港澳門關係條例", Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China, Taipei: Ministry of Justice, 2006-05-30, retrieved 2011-12-21. English translation also available.
- The definition of "Taiwan Area persons" (臺灣地區人民) is also given in the Act Governing Relations Between The People Of The Taiwan Area And The Mainland Area Article 2(3) as persons having household registration in the Taiwan Area.
- 邢慧君; more commonly known by her Japanese name Kimiko Goto (後藤希美子)
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