The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued 68,174 visas this year for Cambodian laborers in Thailand, according to a statement released by the ministry on Monday.
In November last year, the Thai Labor Ministry reported that about 680,000 Cambodians were working in the country. According to the Mekong Migration Network, which monitors migration in the region, most of those workers were there on temporary work permits.
Foreign laborers in Thailand are required by law to have a valid passport, visa and work permit. Migrants who have crossed into the country illegally are entitled to apply for a pink card that allows them to work in Thailand for 60 days while they wait for passports and visas.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s statement, the Cambodian government is continuing to help its citizens achieve legal status in Thailand.
“The Cambodian consulate based in Thailand and the consulate in Sa Kaeo province has helped countless people resolve issues [this year],” the statement said.
“This includes requesting that Thai authorities not arrest Khmer laborers with pink cards, and helping to coordinate the provision of work permits and visas.”
Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said that once workers receive their visas, they are eligible for two-year work permits, which can be obtained from Thai authorities.
Since the Thai junta began an initiative in June last year to clear the country’s workforce of illegal migrants—which saw about 250,000 Cambodians flee back home—the Cambodian government has stepped up support for citizens seeking legal employment across the border.
On Monday, Chan Kimseng, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s general department of identification, said Thai authorities had identified 160,000 Cambodian migrants in Thailand without passports, and that his department was in the process of issuing them passports.
“Currently, we have printed about 130,000 passports and will continue to print the remaining 30,000 as soon as possible,” Mr. Kimseng said.
He added that because passports were sent directly to Thai employers—who are not required to confirm receipt—it was unclear how many workers had actually received them.
Officials at the Ministry of Labor could not be reached for comment.