Our whole family must return to the USA to apply for missionary visas so that we can return to Taiwan and have a semi-permanent residence here. We are flying back, Lord willing, on July 28th. If everything goes smoothly, we should only be in the States for 2-3 months. (We originally planned to do this overseas, but COVID-19 changed our plans.)
Many of you have been praying for our visa situation here in Taiwan. To recap, as we reported in an earlier prayer letter:
“Our current concern is that Taiwan has barred entry of “foreign nationals” to keep combating the virus from coming into the island. This includes American citizens. We currently are allowed to stay until mid June before we need to make another visa run. But with the current regulations in place, and if they don’t change by then, we will not be allowed to re-enter and we won’t have a choice but to return to the USA until the ban is lifted. Obviously this in not what we are wanting or hoping for, but we know all is in the Lord’s hands. Please pray for this ban to be lifted or for a way to process our visas.”April 2020 Prayer Letter
Since then, Taiwan has continued to give extensions but they max out at 180 days. That would mean that we would be forced to leave by August 13 at the latest. But just a few days ago Taiwan announced an update to this policy and that they will begin allowing foreign nationals to apply to enter the country again for certain reasons. One of the valid reasons for travel under the new policy includes “missionary activities”. We have also confirmed this with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago.
Therefore, we have already purchased tickets to return to the States for July 28th. Our purpose in returning is (1) we can’t stay on our current visa-free option past August 13 and currently not allowed to reenter the country on that option; (2) apply for a missionary visa that will allow us to return to Taiwan and also get residency, which would allow us the freedom to come and go from Taiwan and be semi-permanent here.
Can’t you apply for this visa in Taiwan? No. We actually have prepared our paperwork ahead of time, but there is a regulation that prevents us from applying from within the country. We have to turn our paperwork into an approved office outside of Taiwan.
Can you apply in another country that is closer? This was our original plan, but once COVID-19 happened, most countries are closed to foreigners traveling there on tourist visas or their requirements for quarantine are not suitable for our family.
Why didn’t you apply for this earlier? We were in the process of applying for the missionary visa, but then COVID-19 happened and the ban they put into place meant that we couldn’t apply for any visas, which is why we didn’t return earlier or go to another country and apply for this. Everything was put on hold. It is just within the past few days that we have been given permission to even apply again.
How long do you plan to be back? Lord willing, just 2-3 months. Everything is in the Lord’s hands, but we have been told that the processing time is 6-8 weeks for the visas we are applying for.
What about the new church plant? This was a hard decisions for us, but it is one that is currently out of our control. We are talking with other missionaries to help others find another preacher who can take over the work until we return.
- Pray that our paperwork arrives in a safe and timely manner. (We have already started the process and sent to the USA the paperwork that we could.)
- Pray that our visa process can start as soon as the paperwork is received (next week).
- Pray that the processing time will be shorter, not longer than expected.
- Pray for safe traveling for our family of seven.
- Pray for the new church plant while we are away.
- Pray for God to provide a man and/or family that will be lead in our absence.