Got a work permit? Thailand launches new crackdown on foreigners working illegally

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Work permit. File Photo

Labor Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn presided over a ceremony on Wednesday (June 5) to launch a new crackdown on illegal foreign workers in Thailand.

The event took place at the Buddha Suthidhammapot Pavilion, Ministry of Labor Building.

Attendees included high-ranking officials such as Somchai Morakotsriwan, Director-General of the Department of Employment; Siraphop Duangsodsri, Assistant Minister of Labor; Thanat Thaveekuakulkit, Advisor to the Minister of Labor; Phuchong Warasri from the Office of the Prime Minister; Pairoj Chotikasetthian, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor; and Decha Pruekpattanarak, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor. Representatives from the Immigration Bureau, Tourist Police Division, Human Trafficking Suppression Division, and the Bangkok Internal Security Operations Command were also present.

Minister Phiphat emphasized the importance of the labor sector in driving Thailand’s economy. He noted the need to balance the employment of Thai nationals while effectively managing migrant labor to meet employer demands in the production, agriculture, and industrial sectors. The new policy announcement provides guidelines for inspecting, arresting, and prosecuting employers and foreigners who violate labor laws.

Somchai Morakotsriwan highlighted the penalties under the Royal Decree on the Management of Foreign Workers’ Work B.E. 2560 and its amendments. Foreigners working without a permit or beyond their authorized duties face fines ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 baht and deportation. They are also barred from applying for a work permit for two years from the date of the penalty. Employers hiring unauthorized foreign workers face fines ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 baht per worker, with repeat offenders facing up to one year in prison or fines ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 baht per worker and a three-year ban on hiring foreign workers.

According to the Cabinet resolution on October 3, 2023, employers who applied for work permits for their workers by January 15, 2024, have obtained permits for a total of 813,869 workers.

This includes 676,515 Myanmar nationals, 103,442 Cambodians, 31,170 Laotians, and 2,742 Vietnamese. These workers must complete biometric data collection, obtain passports or substitute documents, secure visas, update or create personal records, and obtain pink ID cards by October 31, 2024. Failure to complete these steps will result in the termination of their special permission to work in Thailand.

The Foreign Workers Administration Bureau reported that 369,156 Myanmar workers, or 54.57% of those with work permits under the Cabinet resolution, have completed their Certificate of Identity (CI) documentation at the Myanmar Migrant Labor Management Center. Employers and businesses are urged to ensure their workers complete the required processes by October 31, 2024, to avoid their workers becoming illegal and subject to prosecution.

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