After numerous complaints made by the public, officials are examining ways to expedite the marriage process for Lao and foreign nationals.
A meeting was held by The Foreign Expatriate Management Department, Ministry of Public Security last week to review and analyze potential issues delaying the process and how to resolve them.
A senior department official informed that a marriage application submitted to the ministry by a Lao national and a foreigner should take approximately three months for consideration and approval. However, complaints have indicated that it takes far longer to receive the legal documents necessary for the marriage to be considered official.
Ways to regulate and legalize undocumented marriages between Lao nationals and foreigners who have entered and resided in Laos illegally, particularly in the provinces, was also a topic of discussion during the meeting.
According to statistics provided by the ministry, from 2009 to 2016 an estimated 2,631 approvals were granted for Lao nationals to legally marry foreigners of various nationalities.
Permanent Residency Process Also Under Review
Officials also reviewed the enactment of a Lao policy which permits foreign nationals and those with no nationality to apply for Lao permanent residency, with varying criteria set for different groups of foreign nationals.
According to a Prime Ministerial Decree issued in 2011, to be eligible to apply for Lao permanent residency, the applicant must not ever have been found guilty by a court and imprisoned.
Foreign applicants must have resided in Laos for a minimum of 10 years, immediate relatives of the foreign expatriates are also eligible to apply.
Foreign nationals of Lao origin as well as those foreigners whose parents hold Lao nationality can apply immediately.
Foreigners also qualify for permanent residency if they have married a Lao national legally and have lived in Laos for two consecutive years.
Investors with registered capital of at least US$500,000 and who have operated businesses in Laos legally for at least five years are eligible to submit an application.
Experts whose professional experience is necessary for the development of Laos, people who have been granted special privilege by the Lao government as well as those who have been certified as making a good contribution to the Lao revolutionary task and national construction and development are all eligible to apply.
The PM’s decree also details all required documents, steps and relevant departments at which the documents must be submitted.