Thai Government Takes Steps to Legalize Undocumented Lao Workers

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Migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in Thailand.

The Thai government has announced that it will provide work permits and visas to Lao nationals so that they can remain in the country legally and continue working for the next two years.

The government is currently operating assistance centers across Thailand for helping Lao employees with purple cards (work permits) to continue working in the country in a legal capacity and get registered with the authorities.

They have introduced purple cards to provide Lao workers without complete documentation the time to assemble essential documents such as work permits, visas, and passports.

Every Lao worker in Thailand, mostly employed in the fishing sector or other jobs in the labor market, carry purple cards and has the legal status to work in Thailand, for two years, after which they can extend their purple cards.

Additionally, they will also receive temporary identity certificates issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand as well as work permits issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

Those whose visas have expired but whose passports have not can still register for employment authorization, to become legally employed, but they will have to provide copies of their passport, work permit or registration card, employer’s resident card, and home registration.

Individuals with expired passports or who are under the work permit limit, or whose visa has already expired, should submit their original passport, a copy of their ID card or census paper, a copy of their work permit or TL 38 card or registration card, a copy of their employer’s residence card and home registration, and three photographs.

Lao Workers without a passport are required to register to obtain a temporary travel permit (yellow card) to return to Laos to get a new passport. They are also asked to provide a copy of their ID card (citizen card) and/or census or copy of the address certificate of their residence in Laos, and three photographs.

The fee for approval, monitoring, management, and support during the two years of employment is THB 3,500 (excluding the cost of requesting various types of approval from Thai authorities).

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has stated that Lao workers make up around 10% of Thailand’s 1.5 million casual laborers from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.