Lao Labor Ministry to Streamline Visa, Work Permit Processes for Foreign Workers

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Lao Labor Ministry to Streamline Visa, Work Permit Processes for Foreign Workers
Migrant workers at one of the many large construction sites in Laos (photo: Vientiane Times)

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is implementing new measures to facilitate the issuance of visas for illegal foreign workers and the renewal of work permits for legal foreign workers. This initiative aims to regulate and streamline the process for foreign workers in Laos.

The Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Phongsaisack Intharath, introduced a new system to speed up the issuance of registration cards and work permit renewals for foreign workers in Laos. Effective on 22-23 April, the regulations aim to standardize the process and make it more efficient.

According to the deputy minister, the new rule will improve worker regulation, including centralizing permit issuance for foreign workers. Provincial labor departments will manage hiring permissions, fee collection, monitoring of returning foreign workers, and law enforcement against violators.

Authorities have also urged relevant sectors and the public to collaborate in resolving the issue of undocumented workers and ensure that all foreign workers are registered. The new system is also expected to help alleviate labor shortages in Laos by collecting information and identifying the number of foreigners working illegally, enabling authorities to allocate resources to regulate the situation effectively.

In 2023, the government established centers at provincial Labor and Social Welfare offices nationwide to register foreigners and issue temporary work permits, aiming to regulate the number of undocumented migrant workers.

It was estimated that out of 54,000 foreign workers in Laos last year, 24,000 were working illegally, with the majority coming from Vietnam, China, and Thailand.

The Ministry and Departments of Labor and Social Welfare are actively working to address labor-related issues by coordinating with relevant sectors at both central and local levels. Since 2012, the government has been registering migrant workers to maintain social order and protect workers’ rights, coinciding with the establishment of the Asean Economic Community.