Gov’t to Strictly Enforce Work Permit Law From Next Week

The Interior Ministry will next week begin strictly enforcing laws requiring foreigners employed in the country to have work permits, an official at the ministry’s immigration department said Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Nouv Leakna, the department’s deputy general director, said that next week his department will begin aggressively fining foreign nationals or their employers if they do not have work permits. The country’s 1997 Labor Law makes the permits mandatory, though the provision has been only sporadically enforced in the past.

“We will start next week but can’t say when,” Lt. Gen. Leakna said.

Any foreign national found without a work permit will have to pay $100 for the permit and be fined 500,000 riel (about $125). But unless the foreigner’s employment contract stipulates that they must personally obtain a permit, Lt. Gen. Leakna said, payment of the fine will be the responsibility of their employer.

“We will come back in six months and if you still don’t have a work permit you will have to, under the law, leave Cambodia,” he said, adding that work permits can be applied for at the Labor Ministry and take one month to process.

At a meeting on December 26, Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng said foreign nationals will also be fined $77 for each year they have been employed in Cambodia without a work permit.

According to Lt. Gen. Leakna, visa renewals for long-term residents will also be affected. He said new arrivals to Cambodia can acquire a one-month business visa then apply for a one-year extension.

“But after one year, if you can’t find a job, you have to go out of Cambodia and cannot extend more,” he said.

Sok Phal, the head of the immigration department, said last week that all foreign nationals who draw an income in Cambodia must have a work permit.

“If they work for money, they have an obligation to have the work permit,” he said at the time.

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