Ministry plans to open registration for migrant workers

Ministry plans to open registration for migrant workers

Workers hold signs as they celebrate Labour Day on May 1 at Democracy Monument, Bangkok. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Workers hold signs as they celebrate Labour Day on May 1 at Democracy Monument, Bangkok. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Labour Ministry will open registration for illegal migrant workers in the country and those whose work permits are about to expire after the ministry's proposal has received cabinet approval.

A meeting of the migrant workers' policy management committee and concerned agencies on Thursday agreed on four issues, Department of Employment director-general Pairoj Chotikasathien said.

The meeting agreed that registration will be open for illegal migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. They include workers with expired work permits and those without a work permit.

Employers are required to submit lists of their migrant workers to the department to apply for online registration. Their workers will then be allowed to work in the country until Feb 13 next year. 

Migrant workers who wish to apply for a permit extension can have their one-year permits renewed up to two times. They are valid until Feb 13, 2025.

The meeting also agreed that migrant workers with a visa to work until or after Aug 1 this year are required to renew their work permits, if they wish to remain employed in the country. In this case, they will be allowed to work for two more years.

The third issue concerns a visa fee reduction. The Interior Ministry and the Immigration Bureau will jointly draft a ministerial regulation to reduce the fee from 2,000 baht to 500 baht.

The fourth issue is a plan to set up more post-arrival and reintegration centres at Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports to support the arrival of migrant workers under the Memoranda of Understanding signed with neighbouring countries. Currently, Thailand has five centres, which are in Tak, Sa Kaeo, Nong Khai, Mukdahan and Ranong provinces.

Mr Pairoj said employers must register their migrant workers online within two weeks after the cabinet approved the ministry’s proposal. The registration was for migrant workers who are already working in the country, not new arrivals, he added.

Employers will be subject to a fine between 10,000 and 100,000 baht for each illegal migrant worker employed. Employers who repeatedly violate the law will be prohibited from hiring migrant workers for three years. They will also face imprisonment. 

Migrant workers without a work permit will face a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 baht and deportation. 

Phot Aramwattananon, deputy chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said almost all industries are struggling with labour shortage. The ministry’s move to open registration for illegal migrant workers would benefit both business operators and migrant workers, he added.

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