Burmese migrant workers in Thailand – or at least those who qualify as ‘Pink Card’ holders –will soon be able to apply for Certificates of Identity that will officially allow them to travel freely around the kingdom.
Beginning on 1 March, a migrant worker can apply for a Certificate of Identity or ‘Green Book’ at any centre opened by Burma’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population in Thailand.
According to an announcement on the ministry’s website this week, the Green Books will be immediately available at a new centre in any of five Thai districts: Samut Prakan, Ranong, Mae Sot, Mae Sai, and two centres in the fishing ports of Mahachai and Samut Sakhon.
Under a Thai cabinet resolution passed in February 2016, migrant workers who hold temporary work permits, known as Pink Cards, are allowed to live and work in Thailand for a maximum of two years, or no later than 31 March 2018.
The cost for the new ‘Green Book’ is to be 300 baht (US$8.50), while a four-year Burmese passport for migrant workers will cost 1,050 baht in Thailand.
The ministry said it urges Burmese migrants to go to the centres in person rather than spend additional payments on brokers.
Speaking to DVB yesterday, Moe Aung Khine, the diplomatic officer for workers at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, said that the new ‘Green Books’ will make it much easier for migrants to travel freely in Thailand.
“Those who have Pink Cards [TR-38s] cannot cross borders, but they can with a Green Book,” he said.
“Staff from Myanmar will arrive on the 27th [February] to prepare for the issue of the Green Books. We will be able to process them in one day.
“We don’t know how long the centres will remain open. I believe we will stay open until our work is finished. But it will still take up to six months for nationality verification, so the new four-year migrants’ passports cannot be issued immediately.”
He said the Green Books would help ensure that migrant workers from Burma are not arrested by Thai police for traveling outside their location of work.
Burmese Migrant Workers Network Chairman Sein Htay said that after two years talking about ‘Green Books’, the situation has improved and become practical.
“The Burmese government has improved the system in ways such as arranging for Burmese workers to make their payments at a local 7-11. In this way, brokers cannot so easily exploit them,” he told DVB. “But this ‘Green Book’ process also involves getting visa stamps from Thai immigration and other requirements. That’s why it is imperative that this announcement is spread far and wide so that all migrants know what their options are.”
Sein Htay estimated that there are about three million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, about a third of whom will wish or need to apply for a ‘Green Book’.