In 2008, Filipina OFW, Cecilia Armia Alcaraz (a.k.a Nemencia Armia), was sentenced to death in Taiwan for the killing of her employer.
Armia began working in the country in 2005 as a tutor but decided to overstay when her contract expired. The Filipina OFW was promised an extended employment contract by an illegal broker; however, she ran out of luck with the authority when she was implicated for the robbery and murder of her employer – which she claimed was committed by two Taiwanese. Thankfully, through the efforts of the Philippine embassy, the OFWs death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Armia’s case is just one example of the dangers for OFWs working in a foreign country with nothing to show but expired contract. This is why all OFWs are strongly advised to immediately return to the Philippines upon the end of their employment terms.
The Dangers of Overstaying
Overstaying in Taiwan or any other country can put OFWs at risk to:
Being a target of illegal employment brokers
You are probably familiar with the saying kapit sa patalim (which literally means clutching a blade). Without proper working documents, OFWs could be a target of illegal brokers that victimize desperate foreign workers in Taiwan. These brokers will promise OFWs a working contract which, in the first place is illegal, putting you at risk to detention (if not, imprisonment).
Deplorable working condition
Working undocumented gives employers the upper hand. You can’t go to authorities to complain on bad working conditions, low pay, abusive treatment and deteriorated labor camps. Whereas a legal employment contract gives OFWs the privilege to demand fair working hours, safe working conditions, and fair wages.
Arrest and deportation
Last September 2014, Taipei Times reported that authorities in Taoyuan country arrested 40 female and 18 male foreign workers (mostly from Indonesia and Vietnam) who were alleged to be working illegally for an electronic factory. The workers were brought to the National Immigration Agency’s office for questioning and then transported to a detention center. The employer meanwhile – though the company executive explained they were not aware the workers are “illegal” – faces a fine of up to NT$700,000. This is likely to be a same scenario for OFWs.
Months of stay in a cramped deportation center
A contributor for The Wild East blog shared his experience with Taiwan’s immigration office and detention centers for foreigners: “We were about to go to Sanxia, the detention center where I’d spend almost 2 months. We all got cuffed again, in pairs, two girls each. We were rushed into big vans and driven to the next location. They warned us this place was going to be bigger, louder, stricter, crowded….”
Detention centers have a bad rep for being too small and cramped. It is a cage, “a room filled with sleeping bags, clothes and underwear hanging everywhere, toilet/shower area.” A place no OFWs would like to be.
Pay a stiff fine
If OFWs overstay a Taiwan visa for even just a day, you will have to pay a fine. According to NIA’s overstay exit application form, an over stay of 1-10 days is subject to a fine of NT$2,000 (2,840 Php); 11-20 days NT$4,000; 21-30days NT$6,000, and so on.
Overstaying in Taiwan is a risk many of our OFWs are willing to take so they can continue to send money back home. But, is it really worth it?