Taiwan’s work permit requirements may appear to be inflexible but little-known exemptions are readily available for two requirements: minimum employer capitalization/revenue and minimum post-graduate work experience.
The Basic Requirements
Most foreign professionals in Taiwan other than teachers are employed in Class A professional and technical work.
To hire a foreign professional for Class A work, the foreign job candidate’s prospective employer must apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor’s Workforce Development Agency (the “WDA”).
In general, four basic requirements must be met:
- the capitalization/revenue requirement for the employer
- education/experience requirements for the employee
- the job must be a professional or technical job, and
- a minimum monthly salary of NT $47,971
Exemptions are available for the capitalization/revenue requirement and the work experience requirement. No exemptions are available for jobs that do not fall within the scope of professional and technical work. There are also no exemptions to the minimum monthly salary of NT$47,791 for foreign professionals who hold a non-Taiwan degree.
To hire a Class A foreign professional, the employer must be a new business with NT$5 million in registered capital or an existing business with NT$10 million in revenue in the preceding year (or average NT$10 million revenue over the past three years).
Education and Experience Requirement
To be hired, a foreign professional must generally have a college degree and two years of related post-graduate work experience.
Exemptions are available through what the Ministry of Labor calls the “Consultation Mechanism.”
If an employer does not meet the capital/revenue requirement, the employer should attach this form (in Chinese) to the work permit application.
If the job candidate does not have two years of post-college work experience relevant to the job, the employer should attach this form (in Chinese) to the work permit application.
Please note that foreign job candidates generally cannot apply for work permits or exemptions on their own. Their employer must apply for permission to hire the job candidate.
High Approval Rates
Exemptions under the Consultation Mechanism have been available since 2010. Partial statistics from the WDA show that exemptions are granted in response to most applications. Between 2010 and 2015, 176 employers applied for exemptions to minimum capital/revenue requirements. 156 (89%) of these applications were approved. Similarly, 50 employers applied for exemptions to the two year work experience requirement during the same period. 47 of the applications were approved, yielding a 94% approval rate.
While approval rates are high, the number of applications is strikingly low. This is probably explained by the fact that until recently the WDA did not have clear guidance on the Consultation Mechanism either in English or Chinese.
EZ WORK Taiwan: Information on Consultation Mechanism and Work Permits in General
In late 2016 however, the WDA added a new section to its excellent EZ WORK Taiwan website that gives comprehensive information about the Consultation Mechanism in both Chinese and English. Foreign professional job candidates can familiarize themselves with the Consultation Mechanism in English here. Since HR departments at Taiwanese companies are unlikely to be familiar with the Consultation Mechanism, job candidates can refer prospective employers to the same information in Chinese here.
More generally, the EZ WORK Taiwan website provides comprehensive information in both English and Chinese for Class A professional and technical work permits as well as bilingual information about other types of professional work permits including those for teachers, artists, and performers. Again, referring prospective employers to the Chinese side of the site can be very useful especially if you are the first foreign hire at a given company.
Special Rules for Graduates of Taiwanese Universities and Qualified Startups
It should be noted that special rules apply to foreign graduates of Taiwanese universities and to employees at qualified startups. These special rules are outside the scope of this article but more information about the Points System for foreign graduates of Taiwanese universities can be found here. Employees of qualified startups are not subject to the two year experience requirement.
 會商機制 (huishang jizhi)