Interviews Deter Thousands of Chinese Brides

In September, the Taiwanese government began interviewing Chinese citizens attempting to enter Taiwan on marriage visas. The program has successfully identified hundreds of fake marriages, and may have made the job of Chinese "snakeheads", or people smugglers, more difficult. Many snakeheads traffic in young girls, who have a harder time passing the entrance interviews. Some snakeheads have even begun to provide prostitutes entering Taiwan with manuals containing potential interview questions. To help weed out the illegals from the legitimate brides, Taiwan's Bureau of Immigration has brought in consultants from the American and Australian visa offices in Taipei to train their immigration officials However, the onerous interview process may also be deterring those with legitimate marriages – in the last few months, thousands of Chinese spouses granted entrance permits had not yet entered Taiwan. – YaleGlobal

Interviews Deter Thousands of Chinese Brides

Cody Yiu
Thursday, February 5, 2004

Comprehensive interviews with Chinese spouses at ports of entry have been effective in identifying fake marriages but lawmakers have been interfering in the process, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday.

According to statistics released by the ministry yesterday, between Sept. 1 last year and Jan. 31 this year, interviews with 5,860 Chinese individuals trying to enter Taiwan uncovered 796 fake marriages.

"Our interview system has scared individuals being sent by snakeheads, as the age range of girls trying to enter Taiwan with marriage visas has increased. This is because younger girls have a harder time passing the interviews," said Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Tseng Wen-chang (曾文昌).

The interview system also seems to be deterring some people who have already been granted visas based on their alleged marriages.

"Between July 1 and Nov. 30, 2003, 7,867 Chinese spouses who had been granted entrance permits had yet to enter Taiwan," Tseng said.

"As the Chinese police require those with entrance permits to Taiwan to leave China within two months from the date of issue, these individuals have missed the deadline to leave for Taiwan. We suspect that these individuals had been intimidated by the interview system," Tseng said.

Tseng said that some Taiwanese citizens who had headed for China to arrange fake marriages had turned themselves in or tipped off Bureau of Immigration officials with information about human smugglers.

However, snakeheads have been providing women trying to enter Taiwan to become prostitutes with a tactic manual containing potential interview questions.

The bureau also said travel agencies had bribed some lawmakers and councilors to pressure bureau officials to bring forward interview times.

"In order to crack down on bribery which results in an unfair interview process, the Bureau of Immigration will make all names on the interview list and the interview order transparent at the interview counters and over the Internet," the Bureau of Immigration said.

The interview system, which took effect in September, has three parts.

The first is the interviews with Chinese spouses who try to enter Taiwan by Bureau of Immigration officers at airports and other ports of entry, except for spouses who are pregnant, have children or have been married for at least two years.

Those who have passed the initial interview but are suspected of fake marriages will be called for a second interview after they have entered Taiwan.

The second part of the system applies to Chinese spouses who file for visa extensions and whose motives appear to be suspicious.

The third part is interviews with Taiwanese citizens who wish to apply for entrance visas for their Chinese spouses.

In order to equip Bureau of Immigrations officials with the necessary interview skills, the bureau has hired experts from the American Institute in Taiwan and the Australian immigration service for training.

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