How can I get an entrepreneur visa for Taiwan?

I'm a location independent professional who would like to spend some time in Taiwan and am currently located outside the country. I'm getting confusing and mixed information regarding different visa types, and am trying to figure out what my options are. What exactly is the entrepreneur visa and what does it do?

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The entrepreneur visa is an initiative by the Taiwanese government (run by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Investment Commission) to attract international innovation and talent and assist foreign entrepreneurs in developing and setting up businesses in Taiwan. There are different qualification criteria and the visa is valid for one year initially. It also provides an Alien Residency Permit (ARC) for Taiwan, with which one can legally reside in the country and enjoy the perks offered to (foreign) residents, such as enrolment in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) program (after 6 months of residency), banking, registrations at many public institutions, discounts and much more. The easiest way to qualify for the visa is to fulfill the fourth criteria requirement and apply with a signed contract from a Taiwanese coworking space/incubator:

4. The business was stationed within one year before the application, or is currently stationed in an international start-up park or registered under a project approved by the central government or any local government of the Republic of China.”

Different coworking spaces offer different programs under which one can sign a contract to apply for an entrepreneur visa. These don’t seem to be fixed and are changing and evolving as different global events come to pass and unique situations arise. For example, one coworking space may offer a “work from home” option without requiring paying for office space rental, whereas others require the purchase of a “soft landing package” or a form down payment deposit that is returned to you if you successfully register a business in Taiwan. One does not require an existing company setup before applying for the visa, nor is this officially required. The intent is to provide foreigners with a way to live in Taiwan while they make preparations to set up a company entity. Most coworking spaces require a 3-6-12 month business plan and vet proposed business ideas by conducting multiple discussions and an interview before deciding if they will sign a contract with the potential applicant. If the interview and business plan review are successful, the fee is paid (these can vary anywhere from 24,000 NTD upwards for one year, but different coworking spaces and incubators price differently) and either the space/incubator helps the applicant apply for the visa.

Receiving the visa and subsequent ARC do not grant automatic visa extension eligibility. One needs to apply for an entrepreneur visa extension beyond the first year, and there are specific requirements one must meet in order to qualify. These qualifications pose a hurdle for many entrepreneurs, as one must have a registered business entity in Taiwan that can issue Taiwanese invoices (fāpiào 發票) to prove to the Ministry of economics that these requirements have been met.

If you can not qualify to extend your visa beyond the first year, you are required to leave the country or look into the job-seeking ARC extension or various other visa options.

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