Tibetan Refugees in Taiwan Could Get Residency བོད་སྐད།

Taiwanese officials say they may grant permanent residency to Tibetan refugees who are in Taiwan without legal status.

Taiwan's Central News Agency said 109 Tibetans were granted temporary Alien Resident Certificates on Friday.

They are expected to gain permanent residency after Taiwanese lawmakers next week approve an amendment to Taiwan's immigration law.

Most of the group arrived in Taiwan between 1999 and 2008 on Indian and Nepali passports. Officials say they either overstayed their visas, or were traveling on forged travel documents.

The group has been staging sit-in demonstrations in Taipei to demand that the government grant them asylum.

Members of the ruling Nationalist Party and opposition Democratic Progressive Party reached an agreement on the amendment on Thursday.

The amendment would grant legal status to Tibetans after the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission confirms their identities.

Some Tibetans in Taipei told reporters that they were happy with the decision.

Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, was criticized last month for denying exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, permission to visit the island in 2009 as Taiwan works on improving relations with Beijing.

Beijing accuses the exiled spiritual leader of advocating Tibet's independence, which the Dalai Lama denies. He has called publicly since the late 1980s for greater autonomy for Tibet as a part of China.

The Dalai Lama has visited Taiwan twice before, in 1997 and again in 2002.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 during a civil war, but Beijing insists the self-ruled island is part of its territory. Tensions between the two sides have eased since Mr. Ma took office in May and began promoting closer economic ties.