US to accept ‘Taiwan’ on entry forms? Really?

A report on Taipei Times (TT) informs us that the US government is changing it's custom policy to "accept ‘Taiwan’ on entry forms" for Taiwanese citizens entering the United States.

The case involves an effort to correct a naming issue on the entry forms. It was raised by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and pushed forward by Democrat House Representative, Howard Berman, to "allow Taiwanese to list Taiwan as their country" -- or so written by the TT report :

The US Department of Homeland Security has changed its policy and will now allow Taiwanese citizens entering the US to list Taiwan as their country of citizenship rather than China (Taiwan).

The TT report continues:

Berman protested to US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano last month after he discovered that Taiwanese were required to write “China (Taiwan)” on their Form I-94 entry document and in the Global Entry Program

These descriptions doesn't sound right, especially the words I mark red. For one thing, I've been entering the US, using the I-94 and filling up other entry forms so many times in the past. But I've never been asked to write "China(Taiwan)" as my country on any of my entry document.

I asked some Taiwanese, and got the same thing: they've never heard of, or were asked to follow, such a "requirement" when entering the USA. They have been using the term "Taiwan" like I did on all their entry forms for decades without being questioned.

It's more likely that the US government never has such a policy to force Taiwanese citizens to write "China(Taiwan)" in order to get admission.

But then why did Berman ever bother to seek the solution to a problem that never exists ?

Read what Berman actually said in his own news release ,

Many Taiwanese citizens travel across our borders every day. These individuals should not be required to sign their name under an inaccurate statement in an official government document.

In his letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano --- the letter that pushes this issue forward, Berman wrote:

It has recently come to my attention that when Taiwanese citizens enter the United States, the I-94 documents they are issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lists their country of citizenship as “China (Taiwan).” Similarly, in the application process for CBP’s Global Entry Program, the CBP system refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China.”

There's no where in either his blog or letter did he ever write something like Taiwanese were required to write “China (Taiwan)”.

The form I-94 is a form denoting the Arrival-Departure Record of particular foreigners used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and it must be completed at the time of entry to the United States by foreign citizens that are being admitted into the United States in a nonimmigrant visa status. --- wiki

As far as I know, people could receive the I-94 in two ways:

1. Receiving it as a blank form that you need to fill up by yourself before you enter the USA. Most likely for people who are not in the USA to apply for entry;

2. Receiving it as a form that already has your personal information pre-filled. It is issued to people who are in the USA with a non-immigrant status (like, students) and want to leave the country for a short period. They have to apply for re-entry permission before they leave the USA. That's when the I-94 is issued to them as a pre-filled form.

What the FAPA questioned, and the one Berman pushed, is obviously  the case 2, where the I-94 is issued by the US government with your info pre-printed, including the Country of Citizenship.

For some reason, the US government keeps messing it up by printing "China(Taiwan)" on the I-94 of Taiwanese non-immigrants who want to go out and re-enter the USA, as shown by a sample on Berman's website:

Fig.1. A pre-filled I-94 form, issued as a re-entry permit by the US to Taiwanese who were in the US and intend to leave the US for a short time. Source: Rep. Berman's news release

It could be due to laziness, lack of knowledge or communication, carelessness, or some other factors. By no means is that an indication that the USA had a policy to "require Taiwanese to write 'China(Taiwan)' as their country" as the TT article described.

A simple testimony to that fact is that some Taiwanese non-immigrants simply returned the wrong pre-filled I-94 by noting that the Country of Citizenship is wrong. They got a new I-94 with "Taiwan" on it. They couldn't have done so if there was a requirement in the policy.

Another testimony is that, in case 1 where Taiwanese fill up their info by themselves, they have been allowed to enter 'Taiwan' since long time ago. 

There's no doubt that the effort of FAPA and Rep. Berman, as well as the response from the Homeland Security is a victory. But it's more like a victory to get the US government to clarify the inconsistency in their own naming system. It's not a victory of getting the US to have a policy change in favor of Taiwan like the TT article portrays. A misleading with a twist of facts should never have happened in such a high quality news agency.