The Burmese Embassy in Thailand has recently raised its service fees for passport renewal, which has created additional burdens for Burmese workers.
The increased fee for renewing PJ (job passport) has been raised to 1,250 baht, up from the previous 800 baht. In addition to that, applicants are now required to pay an additional 250 baht for the Oversea Worker Identification Card (OWIC), bringing the total cost of renewal to 1500 baht. This has caused difficulties for those who will renew their passports, Sai Mein Kham (not real name), a passport renewal applicant told Shan Herald.
The Burmese Embassy announced on February 26th that the fees for passport renewal services would be revised starting from March 3rd.
When Burmese workers arrive in Thailand, they often face language barriers and struggle with Thai communication, so they have no option but to visit the Burmese Embassy to renew their passports, which can result in a frustrating and disappointing experience.
Due to the difficulties, they encounter when trying to renew their passports, many Burmese migrant workers in Thailand resort to using brokers. “However, when the service fees for the renewal process were increased, it created an additional obstacle for Burmese workers,” said Khun Han Soe, a migrant worker in Thailand.
He added “Although I would prefer to renew my passport myself and save some money, I just arrived here and I don’t speak the local language, so I’m facing some obstacles. I came here to work because I was short on money, but now it seems like I’m earning mainly to support the Embassy. Even though the fees for the renewal have increased, getting my passport is crucial, so I’ll have to pay whatever it takes”, he added.
“In my opinion, the current process for renewing passports is deeply flawed. The deadline for renewing certain types of passports is set until May 13th, which puts millions of people in a difficult position. With so many people trying to renew their passports at the same time, the process is almost certain to take an unreasonably long time, making it practically impossible for
many individuals to meet the deadline”, Sai Hein (not real name) who helps in passport renewal services also commented.
Workers whose PJs are about to expire will continue to be exempted for three months until May, but the Burmese Embassy has instructed them to renew their PJs by May 13th. Currently, over two million workers need to extend their PJs in three-month period, and many of them are concerned about meeting the deadline to renew their contracts.
“Passport application process in Thailand can be a daunting task, especially for newcomers who may not know where to begin. Even before receiving the passport book, applicants have to renew its validity period, which comes at an increased cost. Unfortunately, this whole process can be described as nothing short of a mess”, Sai Mein Kham added.