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Ministry ‘must stop issuing permanent residency certificates for immigrants’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior Minister Sar Kheng (left) has decided to no longer accept applications for permanent residency certificates for immigrants. The ministry has revoked 36,094 irregular documents this year, with 90 per cent belonging to Vietnamese nationals. Hong Menea

Ministry ‘must stop issuing permanent residency certificates for immigrants’

The Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the deadline has passed for foreign nationals to apply for permanent residency.

The statement, signed by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and dated Monday, was obtained by The Post on Thursday.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister [Sar Kheng] has decided that the ministry must put an end to accepting applications and issuing permanent residency certificates for immigrants,” the statement read.

The ministry’s General Department of Identification spokesperson Tub Neth said: “After the deadline when we find any people holding irregular documents, we will enforce the law.”

The General Department of Immigration said in February it was working to revoke foreigners’ irregular documentation before June 30, after which anyone found to be breaking the law faces imprisonment or deportation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on August 15, 2017, signed sub-decree 129 on the “cancellation and revocation of irregular documents used by foreigners living in Cambodia”.

The Ministry of Interior said it had revoked 36,094 irregular documents from 19,395 immigrant families from nine countries as of May 31, with Vietnamese nationals accounting for 90 per cent of cases.

The ministry said it had observed that local authorities were not clear about the legal procedures and were unsure about the issuing of letters of registration to immigrants and Cambodian citizens with foreign spouses or foreign children.

General Department of Identification spokesperson Tub Neth told The Post on Thursday that Cambodians who have a foreign spouse have a right to all administrative documents like everyone else, while the foreign spouses can be granted birth certificates for their children, but it must state their nationality.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Vietnamese houseboats are seen (right) on the Tonle Basac Lake in January. Hong Menea

“The local authority can issue documents such as birth certificates to foreigners, but it must state the nationality of that foreigner."

“When the child is four or five years old, he or she needs to enrol at school. Without a registered document, they won’t be able to enrol at school,” he said.

Neth said the General Department of Identification and General Department of Immigration were working together to create awareness and provide further training for the local authorities.

Now the deadline has passed, the General Department of Identification will send specialists to train officers in the provinces so they can develop a clear understanding of the procedures in issuing documents and inform the public about those procedures.

General Department of Immigration spokesman Keo Vanthorn said the plan would make the local authorities’ task of managing immigrants easier.

“It will make it easier to manage immigrants and keep security,” he said.

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