How Do I Get a Taiwan Student Visa?
Taiwan visa issues are time consuming and a hassle, but with a little bit of knowledge beforehand (all provided in my post below), you can save yourself a lot of hassle later! If you are going to register for classes at a ministry-approved Taiwanese Mandarin school before arriving in Taiwan, you’ll want to apply for the Taiwan Student Visitor Visa in your home country once you have your confirmation of enrolment from your school.
Do I need a Student Visitor Visa or just a regular ole’ Visitor Visa?
If you’re planning on staying in Taiwan for longer than a few months, you’re going to want to get a Student Visa. A Student Visa allows you to stay in Taiwan and study Mandarin for up to 180 days as long as you remain a full-time student at an approved school. If you decide to stay longer than 180 days, you can apply for a resident visa only after having had your student visa for 4 months. Getting a student visa first is the only way to get your resident visa. (Unless you want to work rather than study in Taiwan.)
What do I need to apply for a Student Visitor Visa?
To apply for the Student Visitor Visa, you’ll need to bring the following items to the TECO office in your country or wherever you happen to be getting your visitor visa from. If you’re already in Taiwan and want to switch to a Student Visitor Visa, you’ll need to leave Taiwan on a Visa Run and visit a TECO office in another country to apply for the visa.
- Application Form
- Two color passport-size photos
- Original and photocopy of your passport
- Original and one photocopy of health certificate
- Certificate of Enrollment from your Mandarin School in Taiwan
- Record of Attendance (only if you’ve already started Mandarin classes in Taiwan)
- Original and one photocopy of transcripts
- Your Chinese Study plan (around 200 words describing the reasons you’re choosing to study Chinese in Taiwan, your goal for your studies and your future plan. Be sure to sign your name on the study plan.)
- Financial Statement (from within the last 3 months) showing an account balance of at least $80,000NT or equivalent
So with a Taiwan student visitor visa, I can stay in Taiwan as long as I’m a student?
No. A Student Visitor Visa is valid for a maximum of 180 days. If you’re staying in Taiwan long-term, it’s expected that after your fourth month you’ll apply for the Taiwan Resident Visa and Alien Resident Card. At the end of 180 days, if you haven’t applied for your resident visa yet you’ll need to leave Taiwan and apply for a student visa all over again.
Also, when you enter Taiwan with your student visa for the first time, they’ll stamp a date in your passport – usually 60 or 90 days. You’ll need to either extend your student visitor visa or leave the country before that date. Your student visitor visa can be extended multiple times up to the maximum 180 days. When your visitor visa is set to expire, you’ll need to print up a few forms from your school and bring them to the immigration office for them to renew.
What forms do I need to bring to extend/renew my Student Visitor Visa?
These forms include:
- Confirmation of Enrolment
- Attendance Record for the Previous Months
- Attendance Record for the Current Month (if you’re renewing your student visitor visa after the 5th day of the month)
- Original and photocopy of your passport.
Why do you need to bring attendance records? Read on below!
A CRITICAL Note on Attendance
Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Taiwan, there were “Mandarin schools” that didn’t really focus on teaching Mandarin and were basically just places where foreigners could get their Student / Resident Visas from without ever going to class.
Times have changed and the same is not true today. Taiwan immigrations requires you be in class 15 hours per week to qualify for a Taiwan student visitor visa and any subsequent renewals. If you miss 11 hours or more of class in any month during your studies, immigration will not renew your student visitor visa, and it’ll be a visa run for you!
If you plan on skipping class and taking some long weekends to explore around Taiwan or Asia, that’s fine (and, in my humble opinion, recommended), but skip in moderation and never miss more than 10 hours of class a month.
Also, most teachers will mark you absent if you miss the first 15 minutes or more of class and that absent class time will count towards your 10 hours a month. Don’t be late and be sure to clarify with your teacher their policy on lateness.
How is a student visitor visa different from a visitor visa?
A quick note about terms here in case you were confused, both the Student Visitor Visa and Visitor Visa are called Visitor Visas and basically look the same. The only difference between the two is that a Student Visitor Visa has the two letters “FR” printed in the remarks field on the visa they insert into your passport.
For those students intent on studying Mandarin for more than 6 months, the Student Visitor Visa is actually just a stepping stone to getting your Resident Visa and Alien Resident Card.