In an effort to curb illegal migration, the Ministry of Interior issued a letter on Tuesday announcing that all migrant workers who want to gain employment abroad will be able to obtain so-called migrant passes instead of having to wait for a regular passport.
Many Cambodians working abroad do not have the time or resources to obtain Cambodian passports, which, while required for working outside the Kingdom, typically cost over $100.
According to the letter, Cambodian workers must apply to the Ministry of Labour and go directly to the ministry’s Identification Department with their identification documents to obtain the 16-page passes, which are valid for five years.
The Ministry will begin issuing the passes starting on September 1, although the letter did not state which countries would accept the scheme, nor how much the passes may cost the migrant workers.
Calls to various Interior and Labour Ministry officials yesterday went unanswered.
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said that the new passes would benefit workers because so many could not afford regular passports.
“Some workers do not have the ability to obtain passports, that’s why they cross illegally to places like Thailand. This will avoid arrest and exploitation.”
Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians work in Thailand, Korea and other countries, attracted by higher wages for low-skilled labour.