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Official says $185,000 in fines collected from foreigners without work permits

Since a nationwide census of foreigners began in August, fines totalling nearly $200,000 have been paid into government coffers, an immigration official told the Post yesterday.

General Sok Phal, director general of the Ministry of Interior’s general department of immigration, said that “foreigners found not to have a work permit have to be fined”.

“According to the law, the immigration police can fine them 200,000 riel [about $49] to 500,000 riel and this money will go to the state,” Phal explained.

“So far, we have collected fines of about 750 million riel [around $184,000], and those who do not have documents could also face deportation,” he added. “Since the census process started, we have deported about 540 foreign nationals.”

The census, which Phal said has already been completed in 20 provinces, has been presented as a means of taking a more precise count of foreigners living in the Kingdom, and of enforcing the country’s Immigration Law.

“The census is aimed at finding, if they [foreigners] work, whether they have work permits or not,” Phal said, adding that officials hope the census will be completed by the end of the year.

But some expatriates say they are confused about what is expected of them.

Andrea, an expatriate who gave only her first name, said the recent arrival of immigration officers in Kampot province has been met with fear and confusion.

“They’ve been around to all of the businesses in Kampot.… They have threatened to kick people out of the country if they don’t have their paperwork in order within the next three weeks,” she said.

She added that residents who had been issued temporary documents while waiting for their official permits to process had been dealt hefty fines.

And, she said, foreigners did not know what to do next.

“We don’t know how to obtain work permits; the [Kampot] labour department isn’t able to give them out at the moment,” she said.

“The messages are so mixed no one really knows what to do.”

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