If you live in Asia long enough, maybe you’ll run into having to do a visa run. It gives you the right, the permission to stay longer in a certain country. Certain countries around Asia may require a visa whether its on arrival or bought beforehand. Make sure you look at the details of each country before you book your flight. For different requirements vary based upon the type of passport you have and what country your passport is from.
When it comes to traveling to Taiwan as a US citizen, we can fly into Taiwan and get a visa on arrival for free for 90 days. After 90 days, its required to fly out of the country and either apply for a visa in any of their embassies in a nearby country or fly in/out right back with another 90 days of validity in the country. Some people who don’t mind taking the trip every 90 days will do so to a nearby country. For Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines are popular destinations due to the cheap flights and both locations are relatively closeby. You can fly in and out on the same day and obtain a new arrival visa. If you don’t wanna risk it and be seen, you can stay a day in the country and come back in the next day. Unfortunately, staying inside the country after 90 days to extend your stay isn’t really an option unless a visa from their Economic and Cultural Office was obtained beforehand.
But since I’ll be in Taiwan for a year, I went and got myself a visa instead from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong (TECRO).
Hong Kong is known for having just about every embassy in the world all right in that small clustered city of there’s but there’s always a gray area when traveling to obtain the visa. A lot of times, you don’t know if you’ll get the visa you want and maybe even get it at all.
Before you go on a visa run, please make sure to talk to other foreigners living abroad or take a visit to the immigration office (if you’re already in the country of residence) and ask of everything you’ll need. That way you ensure that you have everything and it should go smoothly.
If you need to travel to Hong Kong and obtain a Resident Visa for Study from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, here’s what you need:
- 2 2×2 Passport Photos
- Visa Application TYPED
- Copy of your Passport Page
- Copy of your School’s Acceptance Letter
- Copy of your Bank Statement showing you have at least $2,500 USD equivalent OR your Scholarship Letter (if you are a scholarship recipient)
- A Health Certificate (Must be done within 3 months of submission)
- Payment in CASH (no 1000 HKD bills)*
For US citizens, the cost for this visa does costs more compared to what other country passport holders pay. Make sure you visit the website and pay attention to the details of the price become coming in.
The office is located on the 40th floor of the Lippo Centre (Tower 1) which is located by Admiralty Station on the Red and Blue Lines. Visa application acceptance is between 9:00 – 11 AM. After 11, you’ll have to wait till the next day to come in and submit to make sure you go in early and get it done. Visas typically only take one day to process.
For me, I was going into this very gray. I had no idea on how to obtain it. How long I should book to stay in Hong Kong just in case something happened? How long does the visa take the process? What are the risks of flying into Hong Kong? On top of that, the website of the TECRO office in Hong Kong was all in Chinese so that didn’t help. Even the lady that corresponds with visas at my school didn’t seem to know it all. Before I Ieft Taiwan, no one seemed to know what I truly needed to get the Resident Visa. Some said that I needed to wait 4 months to obtain it, others said I couldn’t get it in Hong Kong. Well let me tell ya, they were all wrong.
As a US citizen, you can obtain a resident visa in Hong Kong for Taiwan. The issue is that my Health Certificate was done in the US. In Asia, they’re all about stamps. If a document isn’t stamped, to them, it is not legit and also since it wasn’t done in Taiwan or Hong Kong, they would not accept it. They told me the only way they would’ve given me the resident visa is if I had gone to the TECRO office in DC and had it stamped there. Who would’ve known?
Instead, I was given the visitor visa. They told me I could go back to Taiwan with it and submit my health certificate after sending it home and having it stamped there. But from the sounds of it, they didn’t seem too sure of if that would even work. After coming back, I took a visit to the Immigration office, which I found out real quick that I need to reapply for the visa, pay the almost 6000 NT ~$170 USD (again) just to be issued a new visa then apply for my residence card. The foolery I tell ya.