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Working in Taiwan as a creative professional part I: the freelance artist work permit

by Michael Fahey

This is the first of two FAQs on how creative professionals can live and work in Taiwan after the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals came into force in February 2018.

Part I focuses on how to obtain a freelance artist work permit. Part II focuses on how to obtain an employment gold card as a special professional in the field of culture and arts. Click on the question to be taken to the answer, click back to return to the list of questions.

Freelance Artist Work Permit FAQ

1. What kinds of artists are eligible to apply for a freelance artist work permit?

2. What about novelists, poets, and other literary writers?

3. What does Performing and Visual Arts include?

4. What other educational and experience requirements are there for a performing or visual artist?

5. What kind of work can I do as a freelance performing or visual artist?

6. What is publishing?

7. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in the publishing field?

8. What kind of work can I do as an artist in publishing?

9. What are motion pictures/television/popular music?

10. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in motion pictures, television, or popular music?

11. What awards are recognized by the Ministry of Culture for motion pictures, television, and popular music?

12. What kind of work can I do as an artist in motion pictures/television/popular music?

13. What does crafts include?

14. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in crafts?

15. What kind of work can I do as an artist in crafts?

16. What if I do not have one of the required qualifications for performing and visual arts, publishing, motion pictures/television/popular music, or crafts?

17. What if my application is rejected? Are there any other paths to working in Taiwan as an artist?

18. Can residents of Hong Kong and Macau apply for the freelance artist work permit?

19. Will I be able to apply for residence based on a freelance artist work permit?

20. Will I be able to enroll in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) program based on a freelance artist work permit?

21. Can I do other work to support myself?

22. Who reviews applications for freelance artist work permits?

23. What documents are required to apply?

24. How do I fill out the application?

25. What kind of documentation should I submit to show my qualifications?

26. Does my documentation such as diplomas, letters from former employers, or promotional materials need to be translated into Chinese?

27. How and where can I apply?

28. How long does the application process take?

29. Can I extend a freelance artist visa?

30. How many artists have received the freelance artist work permit?

31. What are their nationalities?

32. Where can I read the law and regulations myself?

33. Who can I contact in the government if I have questions?

1. What kinds of artists are eligible to apply for a freelance artist work permit?

A foreign national artist is eligible to apply if he or she has a track record in one of the following fields:

(a) Performing and Visual Arts,

(b) Publishing,

(c) Motion Pictures/Television/Popular Music,

(d) Crafts (Applied Arts), or

(e) Other artistic fields.

An artist who works in a field other than (a)–(d) above may make a special application for the freelance artist work permit for other artistic fields (e). Please also see the question about lack of required qualifications below. The Ministry of Culture has emphasized that it is flexible about both fields and qualifications, that it recognizes that the arts are always evolving, and that it will consider applications from artists who do not fall neatly into the categories described in (a) to (d) above.

2. What about novelists, poets, and other literary writers?

They are included in ‘Publishing’. See Question 6.

3. What does Performing and Visual Arts include?

They include:

(a) Music (other than popular music),

(b) Dance,

(c) Drama,

(d) Environmental arts, and

(e) Photography.

4. What other educational and experience requirements are there for a performing or visual artist?

One of the following:

(a) Ten years of experience with evidence of original and outstanding work,

(b) MA degree and five years of experience in the field,

(c) PhD and three years of experience in the field, or

(d) Original and outstanding work accompanied by a letter of recommendation or other documentation issued by an official agency in the artist’s home country.

5. What kind of work can I do as a freelance performing or visual artist?

In addition to creating, exhibiting, or performing works, an artist in this class can also do related work involving research, surveys, production, and promotion. The artist can also hold workshops, give lectures, act as a judge, do criticism, and participate in competitions. All work should be related to a performing or visual art.

6. What is publishing?

This is a broad category focused on the publication of literary or artistic works in print newspapers, magazines, or books. You can qualify if you are an author, critic, editor, or translator. Literary works expressly include graphic works.

You can also qualify if you a literary agent, exhibition planner, or researcher whose work involves print literature.

7. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in the publishing field?

Eight years of experience in the field plus one of the following:

(a) Editor in chief or executive at major international print newspaper, magazine, or publisher,

(b) Winner of major international award for literature, or graphic literature or winner of major national prize in these fields in the writer’s country of origin, or

(c) Original and outstanding work in the field of publishing accompanied by a letter of recommendation or other documentation issued by an official agency in the writer’s home country.

8. What kind of work can I do as an artist in publishing?

You can create textual or pictorial works with artistic value, act as a literary agent, or edit or translate such works. You can also plan exhibits of the same and do related research. All ‘publishing’ work should be related to texts or pictorial works with artistic value.

9. What are motion pictures/television/popular music?

Artists in these fields are eligible to apply if the artist:

(a) Creates, produces, or performs in motion pictures or television, or

(b) Creates, produces, or performs popular music.

You may also be eligible to apply if you promote, give workshops on, lecture on or critique motion pictures, television, or popular music, or if you participate as a contestant or act as an agent in these fields. The freelance artist work permit is also available to those who work in management or technology related to these fields.

10. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in motion pictures, television, or popular music?

You must have received or been one of the following:

(a) Nomination for a Taiwanese or international film, television, or popular music award or other award recognized by the Taiwan Ministry of Culture,

(b) Associate professor or above in a department of film, television, or popular music at a foreign university, or

(c) Head of a major international movie, television or record company.

11. What awards are recognized by the Ministry of Culture for motion pictures, television, and popular music?

Motion Pictures

Domestic

Competition awards at:

(a) Golden Horse Awards,

(b) Golden Harvest Awards for Outstanding Short Films,

(c) Taipei Film Festival,

(d) Kaohsiung Film Festival, or

(e) Taiwan International Documentary Festival.

International

(a) Competition or parallel selection awards at Category I or Category II International film festivals, or

(b) Competition awards at Category III or Category IV international film festivals.

The many international festivals currently recognized by the Ministry of Culture are listed here. Examples include Cannes International Film Festival (Category I), the Tribeca Film Festival (Category II ), the Sydney Film Festival (Category III), and the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Category IV).

Television

(a) Golden Bell Awards,

(b) International Emmy Awards,

(c) Seoul International Drama Awards,

(d) New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards,

(e) British Academy Television Awards, or

(f) AIB International Media Excellence Awards

Popular Music

(a) Grammy Awards,

(b) American Music Awards,

(c) BRIT Awards,

(d) MTV Europe Awards,

(e) Golden Melody Awards,

(f) Golden Indie Awards,

(g) NRJ Music Awards,

(h) Japan Record Awards,

(i) Billboard Music Awards,

(j) Juno Awards,

(k) Mercury Prize, or

(l) Golden Disc Awards.

12. What kind of work can I do as an artist in motion pictures/television/popular music?

You can:

(a) create, produce, perform in, or promote motion pictures, television, or popular music;

(b) hold workshops or give lectures related to motion pictures, television, or popular music;

(c) criticize and judge motion pictures, television, or popular music;

(d) act as an agent in the motion picture, television, or popular music business; or

(e) do management or technical work related to motion pictures, television, or popular music.

13. What does crafts include?

Crafts or applied arts means creating or teaching in any of the following mediums:

(a) Leather,

(b) Ceramic,

(c) Stone,

(d) Glass,

(e) Fiber (dying, weaving or knitting),

(f) Wood,

(g) Bamboo,

(h) Paper,

(i) Metal,

(j) Paint, or

(k) Mixed media.

14. What other educational and experience requirements are there for an artist in crafts?

You must have done, received or been one of the following:

(a) Nomination for a recognized Taiwanese or international crafts award,

(b) Associate professor or above in a department of crafts (applied arts) at an international university, or

(c) Original and outstanding work in the field of crafts accompanied by a letter of recommendation or other documentation issued by an official agency in the artist’s home country.

15. What kind of work can I do as an artist in crafts?

You can create works in any of the media listed in Question 13 or teach the craft.

16. What if I do not have one of the required qualifications for performing and visual arts, publishing, motion pictures/television/popular music, or crafts?

The Ministry of Culture will consider your qualifications on a special basis.

17. What if my application is rejected? Are there any other paths to working in Taiwan as an artist?

Yes. In this case, you will need to find a qualified employer to hire you to work as an artist. You can review the requirements on the Workforce Development Agency’s EZ Work Taiwan website.  Your employer may be able to obtain an exemption to some of the requirements through the Consultation Mechanism. Artist work permits can be issued for full time work and for one-off performances or events. In the case of full-time work, you will be able to apply for a visa and an ARC after the work permit is issued

18. Can residents of Hong Kong and Macau apply for the freelance artist work permit?

Yes.

19. Will I be able to apply for residence based on a freelance artist work permit?

Yes. You will need to first adjust your visa status with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then apply for an Alien Residence Certificate (ARC).

20. Will I be able to enroll in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) program based on a freelance artist work permit?

Yes, but you will meet a six month residence period first if you do not have an employer. To meet the residence requirement, you must be physically present in Taiwan for a total of six months although you may make one trip abroad for no more than 30 days. The time spent abroad does not count toward the six months residence required.  If you are hired by an employer, you are immediately eligible for health insurance.

21. Can I do other work to support myself?

No. The holder of a freelance artist work permit can only work in his or her permitted field. For example, the artist cannot moonlight as a language teacher or a programmer on the side. This kind of work would be illegal and would result in a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000. Any kind of illegal work will also result in automatic and largely unappealable deportation plus a re-entry ban.

22. Who reviews applications for freelance artist work permits?

The Ministry of Labor’s Workforce Development Agency reviews them, in consultation with the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture will review applications from artists in fields other than visual and performing arts, publishing, motion pictures/television/popular music, and crafts. It will also review qualifications that are unclear or do not fall into the required qualifications. State clearly in your application that you are applying in the ‘Other’ category or that you want a special review of your qualifications by the Ministry of Culture.

23. What documents are required to apply?

(a) Application Form

(b) Copy of passport

(c) Application fee (NT$500) receipt

(d) Documentation of required qualifications

(e) Other documents requested on a case by case basis

Typically any documents requested under (e) will be requested after you have filed an application with (a)-(d) above. Note that if documentation of your qualifications comes from overseas, you may be required to have your documents notarized and then certified (AKA ‘legalization/authentication) at a Taiwan embassy overseas. We understand that in practice notarization and legalization of documents is not usually required.

24. How do I fill out the application?

The application is very simple and largely self-explanatory. There are a few fields that you may need help with.

The ‘Intended work schedule in Taiwan’ field should be a couple of sentences explaining what you will be doing in Taiwan and how often. In practice, a simple statement of how often the artist will perform and participate in related events like workshops has worked.

The ‘Expected result and benefits’ should be another simple, general statement about how the artist’s work will benefit Taiwan and contribute to international cooperation between artists. You might mention the contribution you can make in introducing Taiwanese artists to international artists and audiences if you are able to introduce Taiwanese artists to your network overseas. Again this statement should be no more than two or three sentences.

‘Branch code’ on the second page means the post office branch you used to pay the application fee by postal remittance.

The ‘Manpower Agent’ referred to on the second page is the name of the immigration agent you have retained (if any) to file your application. Your agent will fill this section in.

25. What kind of documentation should I submit to show my qualifications?

This depends greatly on what kind of artist you are and which qualification you are trying to show. You will need to submit copies of your diploma(s) and letters from former employers to demonstrate that you meet the education and experience requirements. In practice, there is some flexibility about demonstrating experience. For example, letters from employers such as schools where the artist taught in her field in combination with letters from other band members have been used to document experience.

We also understand that evidence of awards for your work is considered to be important. It can be a good idea to submit a letter from the organization that made the award explaining who it is, the nature of the award, and its significance. You may also want to submit promotional materials and coverage in print media.

A supporting letter of recommendation from a reasonably well known Taiwanese artist can also be helpful.

You should not submit a large number of documents or feel that you need every one of the documents listed above. The objective is to clearly show that you have any required educational credentials and a proven track record in your field.

It is of course essential that all documents and information be genuine and truthful. Submitting false documents can result in criminal charges of forgery and false representations to the government. You will also make it more difficult for other artists to live and work in Taiwan in the future.

26. Does my documentation such as diplomas, letters from former employers, or promotional materials need to be translated into Chinese?

Yes but these translations do not have to be complete translations. Translations of key sections related to educational credential, experience, originality, and quality of work are enough.

27. How and where can I apply?

You can apply online on the Ministry of Labor’s EZ Work Permit site. The site is poorly designed and has imperfect English. Nonetheless it is usable with some patience. The site is bilingual once you have registered an account.

If you have trouble, take your application documents to the Taiwan Ministry of Labor Workforce Development Agency’s office in Taipei and apply in person. The address is:

10F, No. 39 Zhonghua Road Section 1, Taipei City, Taiwan

It is also possible to apply by mail if you are in Taiwan. You will need to pay the fee by means of a postal remittance from a Taiwan post office.

28. How long does the application process take?

In practice, it takes most applicants two or three months to gather the documents. It takes seven working days to process an online application if the Workforce Development Agency does not ask you for additional documents. Many candidates are asked for additional documents though.

29. Can I extend a freelance artist visa?

Yes. A freelance artist visa can be extended for up to three years. You will need to show evidence that you have been active and productive in your particular field during the original work permit period. In general, you should apply for an extension during the four months before your work permit expires.

30. How many artists have received the freelance artist work permit?

16 (September 30 2018).

31. What were their nationalities?

1. Japan: 2

2. Malaysia: 5

3. Philippines: 1

4. US: 3

5. India:  1

6. France: 1

7. Bhutan: 1

8. Other: 2

32. Where can I read the law and regulations myself?

You can read the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals here. The freelance artist work permit is covered in Article 10. There is also a useful Examination Manual for work permit applications under the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals. As of this writing the Examination Manual is available only in Chinese: 外國專業人才延攬及僱用法工作許可(審查作業手冊).

You can read the regulations governing applications for the freelance artist work permit here.

33. Who can I contact in the government if I have questions?

The current designated contacts at the Ministry of Labor for freelance artists are:

(a) Mr. Zheng Zhe-xin (鄭哲欣) for questions about the laws and regulations. (02)8995-6177.

(b) Mr. Huang Hu-qun (黃胡群) for questions about the application process. (02)2380-1722.

The current designated contact at the Ministry of Culture for freelance artists is:

(a) Ms. Wang Meng-zhe (汪孟哲). (02)8512-6772.

Please check this list of contact windows on the official website for the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals. The list also has email addresses.



 

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