Thailand Extends Deadline for Migrants on Temporary Permits

More than 600,000 migrant workers in Thailand who would have faced deportation at the end of the month when their temporary work permits were set to expire now have until the end of June to apply for a one-year renewal, an NGO said Tuesday.

In June last year—a month after the Thai Army overthrew the country’s democratically elected government—some 225,000 Cambodians fled Thailand fearing the new military junta was intent on stamping out illegal workers.

In response to international condemnation, Thailand and Cambodia then set up service centers along the border to issue temporary work permits to migrant workers.

About 1 million Cambodian migrants have since entered Thailand, most of whom have received the temporary permits. Those permits, however, were due to expire on March 31.

Omsin Boonlert, an advocacy officer for the Mekong Migration Network, which monitors labor migration in the region, said in an email that her organization estimates there are more than 600,000 Cambodian migrants on temporary work permits that had been set to expire this month.

In a statement Tuesday, Winrock International, an NGO that promotes safe migration, said the Thai cabinet on March 3 endorsed a new plan that would allow those on temporary work permits to apply for one-year extensions.

In order to be eligible for the extension, workers are required to be sponsored by an employer and register with authorities by the end of June, said Sara Piazzano, chief of party at Winrock.

“It is clear that they are saying, ‘Without registration, we are going to deport,’” Ms. Piazzano said. “But it is also clear that they are trying to register as many as possible.”

The workers then have until March 31, 2016 to enter the nationality verification process, which confirms that they are Cambodian nationals, she said. If the verification process is completed before March 31 next year, the workers can apply for another two-year work permit.

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