The Road to a Visa in Taiwan

July 16, 2009

When we decided to move to Taiwan, we needed to figure out a way for Jason and the kids, all of whom are U.S. citizens to legally reside in Taiwan. Now let me dispel a very common myth here: just because you are married to someone of another citizenship does NOT mean you can automatically legally stay in that country! It does, however, mean that you are qualified to apply for some sort of visa. Thus begins our road to applying for a residence visa for the family, enabling the U.S. citizens in our family to stay for at least one year with a fairly easy renewal process beyond that.

The paperwork we needed were as follows:
1) application form (easy)
2) two pictures (easy)
3) our marriage certificate, which needed to be a NOTARIZED copy, TRANSLATED into Chinese, and AUTHENTICATED by the Taiwan embassy in jurisdiction of Colorado where we were married. (which was in Kansas City)
4) the children’s birth certificate, same deal, NOTARIZED, TRANSLATED, and AUTHENTICATED in the area where they were born. This presented complications for us because our daughter Lizzy was born in Los Angeles, and Hayden was born in Beijing, China. This meant we needed to send the appropriate paperwork to the Los Angeles office for Lizzy’s BC, which was not too bad, but Hayden’s BC needed to be notarized in Beijing, and then taken to a Cross Straight Council in Taiwan, to be authenticated.
5) Jason’s criminal record. This proved to be stressful as in order to apply for a clean bill of criminal record from the FBI, we needed for Jason to get fingerprinted. At this time, (April 09) we were living in Tianjin, and the U.S. embassy in Beijing would not help us get fingerprints. So, I went out to the local grocery store and bought ourselves a black inkpad (not as easy as you’d think because in China, the stamp/chop colors that made anything official was of course RED). Jason spent an entire afternoon trying to get all ten of his fingers rolled in prints, his two thumbs, and two sets of four fingers. It was SUCH a shot in the dark when we mailed that fingerprint card in because we clearly had NO IDEA what we were doing. Off it went in the mail to FBI and three weeks later, we received a clean criminal record for Jason. Whew! This of course, also had to be AUTHENTICATED by the Taiwan embassy in the area jurisdiction of the FBI, which was in Washington D.C.
6) Household Registration – going into the household registration office in Taiwan to add Jason’s official Chinese name and to add him into MY registration, which required us to have #3, authenticated marriage certificate.
7) Health examinations for Jason and Lizzy (Hayden is fortunately exempt because it is only for children 6 and under). This was another trying day as we found out they needed to test their stool samples, and no, we could not take it home and wait until my six year old (and husband) were ready to do their business, it had to be RIGHT THERE in the clinic. Lizzy had already gone that very morning so I knew the chances of her producing some samples were slim. I timidly approach the kind nurse at the counter, “Excuse me, miss, what if my daughter can’t go?” “Don’t worry, we can give her an enema.” For those who might not know what an enema is: it involves inserting a bulb syringe up the opening through which one’s stool is produced, and administering a liquid medicine through the syringe, which will result in the desire in most people to “do their business”. Okay, you can imagine it was a difficult morning, but Lizzy was amazing and even got her blood taken without putting up too much of a fuss.

Six months later, mail sent back and forth between China and Washington DC, and Colorado, and Los Angeles, and Kansas City, and trip to Beijing and Taiwan and finally back in the U.S. We finally have all our documents ready to send it in. The processing time is one month, but we paid extra 50% to have it expedited. I prayed really hard at the Fed Ex office when I sent it in, because if something was wrong with the application, I might just go insane.

Will keep people posted when we get that hard-earned visa in our passports.