• Parliament to Vote on Proposed Bills Affecting Foreign Workers
  • May 10, 2017
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • The Myanmar Parliament will vote on two bills proposed by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population. If they pass, the new laws would create a new Work Permit scheme for skilled foreign nationals, a Foreign Workers Supervisory Body, stricter travel requirements for Foreign Registration Certificate holders, and penalties for violations of the regulations.

    New Work Permit Scheme

    A new Work Permit for skilled foreign nationals would be implemented with the following limitations:
    • It would apply to the manufacturing, maintenance, construction, transport and services industries, other occupational activity in public and private factories, workshops, among other workplaces.
    • It would have a maximum validity of four years; it is not yet clear if it would be renewable;
    • It would be specific to one employer and location;
    • Foreign workers would have to apply for it within 30 days of arrival;
    • Health checkups would be required within seven days of arrival and during work permit renewal;
    • Documents proving the foreign national’s experience and credentials would be required (e.g., resumes, certificates from internationally-recognized assessment bodies or regional mutual skills recognition programs, etc.); however, the required skill level to qualify for the work permit have not yet been specified;
    • A written employment contract would be required;
    • Prior approval would be required for foreign nationals leaving the country after their employment has ended or has been terminated; and
    • Employers would be responsible for paying transport and exit costs for departing employees and for the foreign national’s employment tax.
    Foreign Workers Supervisory Body

    A Foreign Workers Supervisory Body would be created with the power to screen and approve Work Permit applications, check medical certificates and monitor compliance. It would be composed of representatives from relevant ministries with the Labour Department’s Director General as the Chief Registrar.

    The Township Labour Officers and the Labour Department’s Chief Representative would review Work Permit applications, issue and renew Work Permits (following supervisory board approval), collect fees, approve employees leaving Myanmar, conduct workplace inspections, receive claims against employers, review evidence of foreign employee skills, prosecute labour law violations and receive semi-annual reports on foreign employees from employers.

    Both the Registrar (Chief-Township Immigration Officer or Manpower Office worker) and Immigration Official (Assistant Immigration Officer from the Union, State or Regional Ministry) would carry out investigations and be able to enter a property (house or office) without a warrant in order to apprehend a foreign national for violations of immigration law.

    Foreign Registration Certificate Holders

    The new laws would impose the following stricter requirements for Foreign Registration Certificates (FRC), required for foreign nationals staying in Myanmar for over 90 days.
    • FRC holders would have to register with the Registrar within 24 hours of arrival.
    • Landlords would be required to provide details of foreigner nationals staying at their facilities or be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
    • FRC holders traveling within Myanmar and leaving their registered address for more than 24 hours would have to obtain prior approval from their local Township Labor Department.
    • Foreign nationals would have to surrender their FRC when departing the country, and re-validate it within 30 days of returning to the country.
    Permanent residents and diplomats or UN officials with diplomatic status would remain exempt from FRC requirements.

    Penalties for Violations of Draft Bills

    Penalties ranging from MMK 10,000 to MMK 30 lakh (USD 7-USD 2,190) would be applied for violations of new rules and regulations.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Employers and foreign nationals can expect a more formal work authorization process if Parliament passes these bills. This may bring clarity, consistency and predictability to current immigration processes, but may also result in more rigid and complex processes. There may be some uncertainty during the implementation period, especially regarding the FRC requirements.

    For more details on the penalties associated with violations of the new laws, employers and foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional.