Candy Yang married her husband, Kenny Lin, in 1999 after dating him for four years when he was working in Tianjin . 'I had no idea of life in Taiwan - I was too young.' Her first shock on arrival was to find Lin and his family speaking Taiwanese, not Mandarin, She didn't understand a word. 'I felt like an outsider. We lived with his extended family. Gradually, I got used to it and can understand Taiwanese and speak to some extent. I was an only child and my home was quiet. But his was a big family and they got up early and went to bed early. I had to get used to that also.' But Taiwan's government does not make it easy for mainland wives. Ms Yang will not obtain an identity card and citizenship until 2009. Unless the family has a low income, a mainland wife cannot get a work permit for six years. Ms Yang can apply for a permit because of her family's slender means, but it lasts for only a year and then it must be renewed. If a non-Taiwanese wife is caught working illegally, she can be expelled for a year. Ms Yang received help from an NGO that provides free tuition in law, customs, the Taiwanese language and traditional Chinese characters (the mainland uses the simplified form). The number of mainland marriages has dropped to about 20,000 a year since 2005, when the government introduced interviews for the wives at ports and airports before they entered Taiwan. Immigration officers question the wives about their relationship with their husbands and, if they believe a marriage to be bogus, will refuse them entry. But demand is strong, with an announcement last week that the annual quota for mainland spousal arrivals will rise from 3,600 to 6,000. 'Most of these marriages are through brokers, so there are more problems,' Ms Yang said. 'Thousands of Taiwanese people work on the mainland and can get to know their spouses gradually, as we did. That is better. In some cases, the wife has a good job on the mainland, so the husband chooses to live there and not here.' Initially, it was older Taiwanese men who chose mainland wives. 'Some are very conservative and have very traditional ideas of wives,' Ms Yang said. 'Some want someone to look after them in their old age, more than a wife.'