Thailand Allows Stay for 500,000 Migrant Workers from Laos and Neighboring Countries

Thailand’s cabinet has agreed to allow 500,000 foreign workers from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam to stay until the end of the month, to sort out their work permits to legally work and live in the country.

Traisuree Taisaranakul, the Deputy government spokeswoman, said on Thursday that the agreement was reached on 4 June, following an amnesty program that was first introduced in Thailand on 7 February. The program aimed to allow illegal migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam to come forward and register without being penalized.

After the scheme ended on 15 May, Thai labor authorities found that there were still more than 500,000 workers who were yet to come forward, citing administrative and/or financial difficulties.

Traisuree emphasized that the extension to the program will allow for more migrant workers to be protected under Thailand’s labor laws, along with dependents of migrants who are under 18 years old.

She said, “This is important as migrant workers are a vital part of Thailand’s labor force and are key to the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery [efforts].”

To this effect, three categories have been made to streamline and process migrant applications. The first category is migrants who hold valid passports but failed to renew their permits, the second are those who came to Thailand under special labor arrangements, and the third are migrants who entered Thailand illegally, and have never applied for work and/or residence permits, Traisuree said.

Recently, Laos has seen a significant portion of its workforce travel to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and other countries in search of better job opportunities, as the country continues to face high inflation, increased cost of living, and low minimum wages.