Pingtung County Service Center of the National Immigration Agency, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps
Pingtung County Service Center of the National Immigration Agency, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

A 49-year-old Indonesian of Chinese origin who has been an illegal migrant worker since shortly after he arrived in Taiwan in 1992, was granted a residence certificate on Saturday. Now he can look forward to becoming a Taiwanese citizen in three years.

Li You-Fu, then 23, arrived in Taiwan in 1992 to take on a job at a wood factory in Pingtung. Soon afterwards, he ran away from his employer, whom he accused or exploitation. He has been an illegal migrant ever since, the Liberty Times reported.

During his time in Taiwan, Li fell in love with a Taiwanese woman surnamed Chen and the pair had a daughter. From time to time, Li considered turning himself in to the authorities for the sake of his family, but because he feared repatriation, he never did.

In March last year, the National Immigration Agency became aware of Li’s story when it was reported in the Liberty Times. With assistance from politicians, and thanks to the fact that he had committed no crimes during his long period in the country, the Indonesia Economic and Trade Office to Taipei re-issued him a passport, which allowed him to fly home to Indonesia in July 2017 to officially marry Chen.

After more than two decades, he was finally able to be reunited with his  mother, elder sister and younger brother.

On October 20, after a year and three months, Li was handed a foreigner’s resident certificate by the National Immigration Agency director-general Jeff Yang. This finally made it legal for him to live and work in Taiwan, and will allow him to apply for Taiwanese citizenship after three more years of residence.

Reports say that Li’s daughter is relieved now that she need not worry about seeing her father getting arrested and sent away.

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