International Students From Ghana have been unable to apply for visas after six months of continuous communication; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should improve the visa application process under the epidemic
Recently, Taiwan International Students Movement received requests for help from two international students from West African countries. They both tried to apply for visas at the only Taiwanese embassy in West Africa, the Taipei Trade Office in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, due to the epidemic, the office was closed for most of 2020. When the office reopened in February of this year, they were still unable to make an appointment to apply for a visa, and were about to miss their school’s scheduled arrival date.
It took several weeks for one of the students to get a response from the Taiwan office in Nigeria, with the help of TISM and diplomats from home country. Another student from Cana, Lucy Adowah (video), has been unable to apply for a visa. She traveled to Nigeria last November and waited in a hotel starving, but not got an effective response, so she deferred her admission time to this spring. This year, she wrote and called the Taiwan office in Nigeria again, but still could not receive a reply. The letters have gone unanswered, and she don’t know if her hope of coming to Taiwan to study will ever come true.
Under the epidemic, most countries have closed their borders to short-term visitors, but because Taiwan has offices in only a few countries in Africa and Western Asia, many foreign students must travel to a third country to apply for a visa. The application process is a time-consuming, expensive, and costly experience for many international students who do not have a Taiwan embassy in their home country, but do not always receive a response. Lucy Adowah and many other students in similar situations are afraid that this will delay their enrollment in school and delay their entry. This not only delays the life of foreign students, but also represents a huge loss to Taiwan’s higher education (especially in the field of research). Most of the students in this predicament came to Taiwan to pursue their master’s and doctoral programs, and they should be engaged in academic research now, but they have to wait helplessly in their home countries for their visa applications, tormented by the uncertainty of future.
We believe that, considering the difficulties of border movement under the epidemic and the special nature of international students coming to Taiwan through the Ministry of Education’s program, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Bureau of Consular Affairs and the relevant agencies should be aware of the difficulties. The Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the relevant embassies abroad should provide online visa applications for foreign students or allow students to ask their local friends to submit their visa applications on their behalf, and improve the entire application process to provide the necessary convenience in light of the epidemic. In addition, we are very confused and puzzled by the delay and lack of response from the Nigeria Office to the visa applications of international students. We hope that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigeria Office will provide a reasonable explanation and respond to students’ visa appointments according to the normal process.
In the case of visa applications for foreign students, it is the students who unilaterally suffer the losses and harm caused by these problems, and we believe that the students’ plight should be taken into account. We hope that the Department of International Education of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will put themselves in the shoes of foreign students and help improve the visa application process for foreign students who do not have a Taiwan office in their home country.