Thailand and Cambodia have recently come to an agreement aimed at simplifying the process for over 40,000 Cambodian migrant workers who need to reapply for or renew their work permits. This decision was made in response to a growing labor shortage in Thailand and is a result of a collaborative effort between Thai labor authorities and their Cambodian counterparts. Many migrant workers had returned to their home countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the demand for their services has surged as the situation has improved.
The current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) permits Cambodian workers to legally work in Thailand for four years. Work permits held by these individuals started expiring from January last year until the upcoming deadline of July 31. To address this issue, Cambodian workers must renew their work permits and other essential documents to either return to work in Thailand or continue living and working in the country if they are still present.
According to Pairoj Chotikasathien, director-general of the Department of Employment, Cambodian workers will benefit from a significant exception to the standard protocol: they will no longer be required to wait for 30 days after their work permit expires before being allowed to reapply. Moreover, the entire reapplication process will now be conducted online, improving convenience for workers.
Thai labor authorities have requested that Cambodian officials expedite the certification of documents relating to workers’ personal information. This request pertains specifically to those whose work permits are set to expire on July 31 and were granted temporary relief under a cabinet resolution passed on February 7. By speeding up this process, the Cambodian workers won’t lose their immigration and workers’ benefits when the cabinet resolution comes to an end.
Additionally, the Cambodian side has requested a decrease in the visa fee from 2,000 baht to 500 baht. This proposal will be submitted to the new Thai cabinet for consideration.
A similar agreement has also been established between the Thai labor authorities and their counterparts in Myanmar. Migrant workers from Myanmar will also be exempt from the 30-day waiting period, allowing them to reapply for work permits immediately upon the expiration of their current permits. The Myanmar side has also requested a discount on visa fees, just like their Cambodian counterparts.
By addressing the crucial issue of labor shortages and streamlining the work permit renewal process, both Thailand and Cambodia are fostering a more efficient and collaborative working relationship that benefits migrant workers and contributes to the economic growth of both countries.