Authorities to Enforce Expat Work Permits

Authorities have begun enforcing a decade-old law that requires foreigners working in Cambodia to have a valid work permit in addition to a work visa, an immigration official confirmed Wednesday.

“We’ve been implementing this for about a month,” said Nov Leakhana, deputy director general of the Ministry of Interior’s general department of immigration.

The move comes after the creation of the department in April.

“We had the law, but we could not fine because we didn’t have the [permission] from the Ministry of Finance. After the creation of the general department of immigration on April 1, we have the [permission],” he said.

A work permit is separate from a work visa and costs 400,000 riel, or about $100.

Under Article 261 of the Labor Law, no foreigner can work in Cambodia unless they possess a work permit and a work identity card issued by the Ministry of Labor.

“The work permit is valid for one year and may be extended as long as the extension does not exceed the expiration date on the residency permit on the person in question,” states the law.

Articles 19 and 31 of the Immigration Law regulate work permits and give the government “the power to conduct checks of and maintain controls on the labor/working cards of the foreign workers”

Fines range from $50 to $125. Violators also could face up to three months in prison.

Maj. Gen Leakhana said enforcement first started in Phnom Penh, but will soon expand to the provinces.

He said there are five groups comprised of between five and six people from the general department of immigration, the Ministry of Labor and the provincial immigration office who are checking businesses for the work permits.

“Cambodia is a state of law. Foreigners cannot do whatever they want,” Mr. Leakhana said, adding that his office has already collected about $5,700 in fines during the past month.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that under Article 231 of the Labor Law, no foreigner can work in Cambodia unless they possess a work permit and a work identity card issued by the Ministry of Labor. It is Article 261.

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