Phuket begins registering illegal migrant workers

PHUKET: The first wave of illegal migrant workers made their way to Phuket Provincial Community Hall today to apply for legal working status at the one-stop registration center.

The center opened at 8:30am and will operate every day until August 21, as instructed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to streamline the process of registering illegal migrant workers in Thailand (story here).

“We expect about 20,000 illegal migrant workers to apply to become temporary legal workers. So far, we have received the names of 15,700 illegal workers from business owners,” said Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO) Chief Yaowapa Pibulpol this morning.

“Those employers who sent us a list of names were set up with appointments at the center. However, those that did not send names but have workers they need to register may still seek walk-in appointments. They may have to wait in line for a while.”

The total cost of legalizing a worker is 1,305 baht. The cost breakdown is as follows: the registration fee is 80 baht, a work permit costs 225 baht, the compulsory health check costs 500 baht and health insurance costs 500 baht, explained Ms Yaowapa. To register children between 7-15 years old will cost 1,080 baht and those younger than 7 years old will cost 445 baht.

Three government organizations – the PPEO, the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO) and the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) – will have representatives working at the center for the next 30 days to register at least 500 workers per day.

“There are 10 steps in the registration process: document inspection; issue of queue number to applicants; urine test and physical examination; x-ray; data input, including pictures and fingerprints; fee payment; blood test; application for health insurance and medical certificate; work permit administration; and provision of information about benefits,” said Ms Yaowapa.

“Once the worker is officially registered, he or she is issued a color-coded card. On the front is a pink, non-Thai identification card. On the back is the work permit, which is green for Myanmar nationals, brown for Cambodians and blue for Laotians.”

The card will be valid for 60 days while officials verify the citizenship of each worker in his or her home country, explained Ms Yaowapa.

“Most of the illegal workers come to Thailand without proper documentation, such as passports. They will be allowed temporary legal status while we verify their citizenship and obtain official documents from their home countries,” she said.

“Once we have their documents and passports, we will be able to apply for their work permits and visas which will be valid for one year.”

Employers who were present at the center this morning expressed their satisfaction with the process.

“In the past, we have had to pay a lot of money to legalize our workers. Now it is easier and faster,” said Panyaporn Saesu, a construction company owner who brought 14 workers to register today.

Another employer from a construction company who had brought 27 illegal workers also expressed his approval.

“It was very fast. All relevant departments came to one building, which greatly reduced the time it took to register,” said Prapon Charoenthai.

“It is not hard to find workers, and I have enough, but I may need more in the future. If we need more, we will be sure to register at the PPEO.”

The center will accept applications until 4:30pm each day, said Ms Yaowapa.

“We will carry on until we have finished all of the applications from that day,” she said.

“At the end of each day, we will take our feedback from workers and employers and use it to improve our service.”

— Saran Mitrarat

Phuket News

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