Taiwan tightens visa applications for Pinoys

By Helen Flores, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 13 2013 01:08 AM | Updated as of Jul 13 2013 09:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) has tightened its procedures for visa applications of Filipinos as part of Taiwan’s sanctions against the Philippines in the aftermath of the May 9 fatal shooting of a suspected Taiwanese poacher in Philippine waters.

Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairman Amadeo Perez, meanwhile, yesterday stood by his statement that the hiring freeze being imposed by Taiwan has affected at least 16,000 Filipino workers.

In an interview with reporters in Makati City last Wednesday, TECO officials admitted that the stricter procedures were in retaliation for the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by a Philippine Coast Guard crew.

Filipinos will now have to wait for at least 14 days before their visas will be issued. Prior to the incident, the visa processing time took only three days.

TECO has also suspended a privilege for Filipino holders of US, Japanese and Schengen visas allowing them to apply for a Taiwanese visa online.

TECO press division director Chang Pong on Thursday denied Perez’s claim that 6,000 Filipinos were refused working visas by TECO.

He said TECO has already issued 2,803 working visas for applicants with work permits approved before the May 15 sanctions.

Taiwan has stopped issuing permits to Filipino workers since May 15.

Chang said other working visa applicants are under screening and their papers still being processed.

TECO has also urged the Philippine government to expedite the resolution on the shooting incident.

TECO political division director Andrew Tung-Heng Lin said they will only lift the freeze hiring on Filipinos once the Philippine government releases “appropriate and positive” results of the investigation into the shooting of the Taiwanese fisherman.