Tanzih District Household Registration Office in Taiching, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

A 47-year-old Filipino who has lived in Taiwan for more than two decades but never applied for citizenship for fear of the high cost was finally naturalized in October as a genuine Taiwanese citizen, with the help of an enthusiastic registration officer in the west-central city of Taichung.

The woman, who uses the alias Aileen to protect her privacy, arrived in Taiwan 20 years ago, and shortly afterward married a local man in Hemei, Changhua county, United Daily News reported.

Unfortunately, eight years ago her husband was killed in a fall from a building scaffolding. Aileen then became a full-time working mother, selling breakfasts at a small stall in order to support her three daughters.

Because of a poor business landscape, she moved to Tanzih district of Taichung, a prime manufacturing center, four years ago to sell breakfasts to industrial workers.

When the family updated their household registration, the officer found it odd that the eldest daughter, who had just achieved adult status at the age of 18, was named as the head of the family instead of the mother.

The registration officer learned that the Filipino woman had failed to apply for citizenship because she mistakenly believed that naturalization would cost hundreds of thousand of dollars. The fee for an initial household registration and identity card is NT$50 (US$1.65).

For two years, encouraged by her daughters’ teachers and officers in the Tanzih District Household Registration Office, she undertook the application process, including replacing lost documents and taking a course in basic Mandarin and arithmetic.

In October, Aileen was granted naturalized citizenship, and she will receive her Taiwanese identity card next year.

The woman said she was thankful for the kind assistance of the registration officers, proudly adding that she now had a stronger sense of belonging as she could share the same household registration as her children.

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