Taiwan relaxes travel ban for men of conscription-age

TAIPEI- The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday passed an amendment to relax the travel ban currently imposed on conscription-age men to allow them to go abroad to study before completing their military training.

The MOI said that the current regulations stipulate that draft-age males must complete compulsory military service before they can study abroad unless they receive permission to study in a foreign country before turning 20.

The ministry further said that the amendment relaxes the regulations about age, explaining that the amendment allows 20-year-olds and above conscription-age men to study abroad. The MOI noted, however, there are still restrictions on age.

The MOI explained that men who are obligated to serve in the military can delay their compulsory military service during their undergraduate studies until the age of 24, until the age of 27 for graduate programs and until the age of 30 for those pursuing doctoral degrees.

If the draft-age men are studying in a seven-year course that prepares them for a school of medicine, then they can delay their mandatory service until the age of 33, the MOI said, adding that the age ceiling of 33 years old is also applicable to conscription-age men who are pursuing doctoral degrees in certain circumstances.

The National Conscription Agency (NCA) Director-General Lin Kuo-enn (林國演) said that as of March of this year, there are approximately 20,000 conscription-age males studying abroad, including in China. Lin said after the amendment takes effect, there will be 3,000 people every year that will benefit from the act.

Lin said the draft-age men in the country will no longer be bound by the age restriction for studying abroad before turning 20, noting that such relaxation of the regulations allows eligible males to plan their career path.

The NCA said that the amendment also extends to the period of time in which eligible men are allowed to come back to Taiwan for vacation. The agency explained that the current regulations state that conscription-age men who are studying abroad cannot stay in Taiwan for more than two months, noting that the newly amended act will allow them to stay in Taiwan for three months at most.

The MOI said it submitted the amendment to the Executive Yuan yesterday, adding that the amendment will take effect as soon as the Cabinet approves it.