Phnom Penh authorities are preparing a parliamentary bill to introduce sweeping changes to the country’s immigration legislation in preparation for the post-pandemic world. Cambodian interior minister Sar Kheng last month ordered a working group to examine the issues because “the current law dating from 1994 is outdated given technological advancements in the digital era.”
Cambodian immigration rules for most visitors have traditionally been simple. There were basically two types of visas on arrival: a tourist visa for 30 days, which could be extended once, and a business (later called a general) visa which could be the basis of a one year extension of stay without any questions being asked. The country was one of the first countries in Asia to introduce a prior electronic visa for short-term travellers. In Cambodia, visa extensions were and still are mostly handled by agents.
In 2018, the government introduced a swathe of changes to extensions of between three and twelve months. There were now different options for retirees, those seeking employment, those actually working and a discrete student category. But, according to the well-run and informative blog Moving to Cambodia, there is still considerable confusion. The documentation required for different visas varies from agent to agent. So it is possible to obtain a retiree annual extension for under US$300 and no paperwork at all. Those in employment need a work permit as well as a visa, but the process is by no means uniform.