The History of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior
- Source：Editing & Archives Section
At first, the agency only executed border control affairs, then expanded to include human flow management, prevention of human trafficking, care and assistance of immigrants, cross-strait interaction and exchange, international interaction and cooperation, protecting human rights of immigrants, promoting immigration policies in order to cope with the domestic political and economic development, international situations and the cross-strait relationship changes.
The history of the NIA is divided into four periods while subordinating to different systems:
1. Military personnel and civilians controlled separately (Feb. 1949 - Apr. 1952)
In 1949, the national government moved to Taiwan. The Taiwan Province Garrison Headquarters and Taiwan Provincial Government jointly announced the Temporary Regulations Governing Entry Permit for Military and Civil Servants of Taiwan Province on February 10th to execute border entry control. The regulation was to prevent the communist party entering Taiwan. In order to prevent the population decreasing, the Regulations of Registration Governing Exit for Military, Civil Servants and Passengers of Taiwan Province was announced on May 28th ,1949 and executed on June 1st. These regulations were executed according to Martial Law Article 11, Subparagraph 9.
The Taiwan border control system was built in this period. It was divided into two parts: Civil Servants and Civilians, Military and Military Dependents. People with these two different identities submitted their applications to the Taiwan Province Police Department and Taiwan Province Garrison Headquarters. Due to the strict verification system, the numbers of travelers exiting the border in 1949 were about 30,000, in 1950 the number was 9,800, and the number dropped to 4,000 in 1951.
2. Under the Department of Defense (Apr. 1952-Sep. 1972)
On April 16th, 1952, the Inspector Office of Taiwan Province Public Order Headquarters merged with the Travel Office of Taiwan Province Police Affairs Office. The Taiwan Province Public Order Headquarters Military Personnel and Civilians Exit and Entry United Scrutiny Department was then established and subordinated to the Department of Defense.
In March 1957, the Executive Yuan issued the Regulation of Entry and Exit the Taiwan Area during the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion and changed the Military Personnel and Civilians Exit and Entry United Scrutiny Department to Entry and Exit Control Department.
In July 1958, The Taiwan Province Garrison Headquarters was established. The Entry and Exit Control Department moved under The Taiwan Province Garrison Headquarters and became staff unit managing the border control affairs. It was renamed to Entry and Exit Control Department, Taiwan Garrison Headquarters.
During the time, the number of travelers exiting the border increased every year. In 1967, the number went over 100,000 and reached 200,000 in 1971.
3. Under the National Police Agency, Ministry of the interior ( Sep. 1972- Jan. 2007)
In September 1972, the border control affairs were transferred from a military system to the National Police Agency, Ministry of the interior, and renamed as the Entry and Exit Bureau, the National Police Agency. It set up a logistics office, administrative affairs office, public security office and seven other units which were responsible for citizen’s entry and exit applications.
By 1973, the number of travelers exiting the border reached 340,000, and over 400,000 in 1975. Due to the increase of GDP, citizens were allowed to go abroad for traveling purpose. The original limitation that only people studying, visiting relatives and doing business could exit the border was abolished. By the year 1981, the number of travelers going abroad broke one million.
Martial Law was lifted in 1987. At the end of the year, Taiwan citizens were allowed to visit relatives in mainland China. People of Mainland China were also allowed to visit Taiwan if permitted. At that time, the living standard in Taiwan was better than that of Mainland China, therefore many Mainland Chinese fishermen longed for living in Taiwan and attempted to enter Taiwan illegally. During this period of time, tracking down, detention and deportation of Chinese illegal immigrants became the new burden for the police especially since there was no official communication channel across the strait.
In 1988, the draft of Organization Act of the Entry and Exit Bureau of the National Police Agency was submitted to the Executive Yuan for deliberation. However, the people from both sides of strait were just starting to make contact since the government began allowing family-related visits to the Mainland China in November 1987, and the position of the management authority was not yet under discussion. Therefore, the Executive Yuan stated the draft will be reconsidered after “the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area” has been legislated.
“The rules governing applications of civilians traveling abroad” was revoked in September 1989, since after allowing civilians to travel abroad from1979 to 1989 which broaden civilians’ worldview and also promoted the international status of Taiwan.
In 1990, there were several deaths caused by sealed cabins and warships crashing during deportation of the illegal Chinese immigrants. The Red Cross society across the straits signed the Kinmen Agreement on September 12th, to standardize deportation procedure. After the Entry and Exit Bureau of the National Police Agency took over the duty of detention and deportation from the Department of Defense, detention centers were built in Hsinchu, Yilan and Mazhu to respond to the need of detention before deportation.
In 1993 and 1994, the number of Chinese stowaways had reached a high point. Afterwards, the Chinese stowaways found that marrying a Taiwanese citizen makes it much easier to enter Taiwan. It resulted in a huge increase of marriage applications which also included fraudulent marriages.
On October 15th, 1997, the draft of the Organization Act of the Entry and Exit Bureau of the National Police Agency was submitted to the Organic Laws and Statutes, Internal Administration and Boder Policy Joint Committee of the Legislative Yuan for reviewing, but it was laid aside.
The Immigration Act was promulgated on May 21st, 1999, which proposed immigration affairs should be integrated and the National Immigration Agency (NIA) is required to be established under the Ministry of the Interior. The National Immigration Agency Law was drafted at the same time.
On November 30th, 2005, the president ordered to announce the Organization Act of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior.
4. Under Ministry of the Interior (Since January 2007)
On January 2nd, 2007, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) was established from the former Entry and Exit Bureau of the National Police Agency. The NIA expanded its business scope and took in the certification service from Overseas Community Affairs Council, care and assistance of immigrants from the Department of Household Registration, the passport and travel documents inspection service from the Aviation Police Bureau and the Harbor Police Departments, and Chinese and foreign residents affairs from the National Police Agency and the police stations. Some staff transferred from the departments mentioned above to the NIA.
According to the Rules Governing the Functions and Assignments of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, the NIA set up four divisions: Entry & Exit Affairs Division, Immigration Affairs Division, International Affairs Division, and Immigration Information Division; four offices: Secretariat office, Personnel Office, Accounting Office, and Civil Service Ethics Office; five corps: Specialized Operations 1st Corps, Specialized Operations 2nd Corps, Service Affairs Corps, Detention Affairs Corps, and Border Affairs Corps.
The position of the NIA shifted from the police authority to the general administrative authority. The NIA business scope includes border security control, care and assistance of immigrants, management of immigrants, human trafficking prevention, cross-strait interactions, international interaction and cooperation, protecting human rights of immigrants, and promoting immigration policies. While the officers, whose positions are ranked above junior grade, perform the investigations on illegal immigrants and immigration crime, they are considered judicial police.
On August 21st, 2013, the president ordered to revise the Organization Act of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior.
According to the Organization Act of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, the Chinese name of the NIA was changed from The “Entry, Exit and Immigration Agency” to the “National Immigration Agency” on January 2nd, 2015. In order to implement the care and assistance of immigrants, enhance and ensure the human rights of immigrants, and prevent labor and sex exploitation, the NIA expanded its business scope to include foreign and Chinese spouse assistance and human trafficking prevention, which are historically remarkable.
The restructuring of the organization merged the original Specialized Operation Corps, Service Affairs Corps, and Detention Affairs Corps and reformed them into three affairs corps: Northern Affairs Corps, Central Affairs Corps, and Southern Affairs Corps to have a flexible, simplified, and efficient organization. After the restructuring, the NIA have four divisions: Entry and Exit Affairs Division, Immigration Affairs Division, International Affairs and Law Enforcement Division, and Immigration Information Division; four offices: Secretariat Office, Personnel Office, Accounting Office, and Civil Service Ethics Office; four corps: Northern Affairs Corps, Central Affairs Corps, Southern Affairs Corps, and Border Affairs Corps.