Migrant workers are now able to apply for citizenship documents, national identity cards, and passports directly through the Burmese Embassy, as well as by contacting the embassy’s 10-member migrant support group, which provides help for Burmese migrant workers as group members travel to Burmese migrant communities throughout Bangkok to gather information, and aid in the request of, and application for, national identity documents.
“The number of migrant workers who apply [for citizenship supporting documents and passports] from us is only [in the] hundreds, and [the Burmese] embassy is the only place that can identify citizens and issue passports for them. They [Burmese and Thai authorities] are still discussing place[s] where they can issue passports. We can only know where they will open offices for passport issues, after they finish discussion[s],” said Ko Ye Koko, a member of the Burmese Embassy’s migrant support group.
According to Ko Ye Koko, the majority of Burmese migrant workers who apply to the group for help does not have national identity cards, and as such, face problems in applying for passports. At the moment, as the embassy’s migrant support group is not in cooperation with the Thai government, their outreach to the migrant community is limited, and they are not able to travel to factories or offices where Burmese migrant workers are employed, to add them to their lists.
“They [Burmese migrant workers], themselves, can come to [the] Burmese Embassy and submit the application. First, they will have to go through [the step of] national identity. After finishing this [identification step], and if they are a real Burmese citizen, the embassy will then issue passports for them. But, for those who have already applied for the TR 38/1 card, and return to Burma [through illegal border crossing] to get passports, it [the passport and TR 38/1] does not work,” said Burmese migrant advocate Ko Thiha.
Ko Thiha notes that the TR 38/1 card is issued for illegal migrant workers working in Thailand, and if the card expires and is not renewed, the illegal migrant, along with his/her employer and any other persons involved in the matter, will be charged in accordance with the law.
In a November 7th announcement from the Thai military government, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the government announced the opening of One Stop Service Centers in all of Thailand’s 42 districts. Initially, the service centers issued TR 38/1 cards with 2 month validity, and on July 4th, the centers began issuing cards valid for one year.
Currently, Thai authorities also provide a service for migrant workers holding TR 38/1 and work permit cards to extend their cards for one year, for a charge of 3,080 baht. The deadline of this service is marked as March, 2015.
It has been announced that Thai authorities will only issue work permits to migrant workers holding TR 38/1 cards, if they can provide supporting national identification documents from their native governments.