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MOFA announces further easing of visa rules for countries under New Southbound Policy

The ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be relaxing visa rules for visitors from countries covered by the New Southbound Policy starting June 1.

The adjustments are being made following consultations with other ministries as part of an effort to implement the new policy. They are intended to attract nationals from Southeast and South Asian countries to Taiwan for tourism or business purposes, as well as to broaden and deepen Taiwan’s interactions, exchanges, and cooperation with these nations at all levels.

The new regulations were decided at an interministerial meeting held by MOFA that was attended by the competent authorities in the areas of national security, police affairs, investigation, immigration, tourism, and economy and trade.

1. The visa exemption trial program for nationals of Thailand and Brunei will be extended to July 31, 2018. Since its introduction on August 1, 2016, the numbers of visitors from Thailand and Brunei have increased by 57.26 and 52 percent. In the first two months of this year alone, the number of Thai visitors jumped by 91.83 percent. With limited instances of visa overstay, illegal employment, and criminal offenses by visitors from the two countries, it was decided to extend the trial program by one year.

2. A visa exemption trial program will be introduced for Philippine nationals for a period of one year.

3. The eligibility criteria for online visa applications by visitors from Southeast and South Asia will be eased for nationals from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. People who have been issued with an ROC visa (labor visas excluded) over the last 10 years, and who have no record of violating ROC law, may apply for a multiple entry visa using the Online Application for ROC (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate (https://niaspeedy.immigration.gov.tw/nia_southeast) run by the National Immigration Agency.

4. Citizens of Sri Lanka and Bhutan will be eligible for tourist visas as of June 1.

5. Businesspeople from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka may apply for an eVisa to Taiwan at the recommendation of local offices of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) beginning June 1.

The ROC government began simplifying visa regulations for countries covered by its New Southbound Policy, including India and the 10 ASEAN member nations, on August 1, 2016, to attract more travelers to Taiwan for short-term tourism, business, visits to relatives, and cultural exchanges. Measures have included a trial visa exemption program for Thailand and Brunei, inclusion of more countries in and easing of eligibility criteria for the Online Application for ROC (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate system and the distinguished tourist group program, issuance of multiple entry visas of at least two years for nationals of ASEAN members, inclusion of the Philippines in the eVisa program, as well as simplified documentation requirements for, and removal of quota restrictions on, students from Myanmar. As these measures have proved successful and violations have been minimal, a feasibility study was conducted, at the instruction of the Executive Yuan, on further simplifying visa rules for countries in the New Southbound Policy.