Illegal Thais get South Korea amnesty

Illegal Thais get South Korea amnesty

Workers must hand themselves in

Illegal Thai migrant workers in South Korea will be given an opportunity to return to Thailand without having to pay a fine for overstaying their visa or being blacklisted, under a new Korean amnesty, said the government employment chief on Saturday.

The amnesty began on Wednesday and continues until June 30 next year, during which time illegal Thai migrant workers can report to authorities and make a voluntary return, said Suchat Phonchaiwisetkun, director-general of the Department of Employment.

After that, a tough crackdown is due to begin on July 1 next year.

Those who report themselves to Korean authorities between July 1 and Sept 30 next year will be charged 30% of the standard fine for visa overstays.

The fine will then become 50% from Oct 1 next year onward, he said.

However, where illegal workers are arrested before voluntarily reporting themselves, they will face the full fine in accordance with the duration of their overstay, he said.

For instance, if they have overstayed their visa for more than three years, they will be fined for 2 million South Korean won, which is about 515,000 baht, he said.

Those who return to Thailand between July 1 and Sept 30 next year without paying the required fine will be prohibited from re-entering South Korea for between one and 10 years, he said.

Those who return to Thailand from Oct 1 next year will face a ban from re-entering South Korea of three to 10 years, he said.

Mr Suchat added that between Dec 11 and March 31 next year, those South Korean employers in medium- and middle-sized industries who notify authorities about their hiring of illegal migrant workers will be exempt from paying a fine.

The government is committed to working to fix the problem of illegal Thai migrant workers in South Korea, he said, adding the government is well aware that Thai workers are highly sought after by Korean employers but they must also abide by local labour laws when they are there.

Meanwhile, Thai nationals are also drawn to South Korea to work because they can earn much higher wages than they would doing equivalent jobs at home, he said.

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