The Employers Federation of Thailand has requested the incoming Thai government to scrap the 90 days report for guest workers from neighboring countries (Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). President Ekasit Kunanantakul said there was too much bureaucracy in the current registration system which required many economic migrants to deal with registration centers, the immigration bureau and the ministries of labour and of health. These restrictions were leading to delays which meant that new migrants sometimes had to wait for months before legally being entitled to enter the Thai labour market.
Many commentators have argued that the 90 days report in principle isn’t actually necessary and rarely catches miscreants and scoundrels in any case. They point to the online, automated version in Cambodia (Foreigners Present in Cambodia System) where foreigners staying less than a month do not need to register, but longer stayers must log onto the government app where they denote their address. This entry remains valid unless and until the foreigner changes it. Of course, there are strict penalties for those who change their residence without informing the authorities via the government app.
There are over one million registered guest workers in Thailand and an unknown number of illegals. The high registration fees are often blamed for the contradiction, although regular amnesties allow those who have slipped into Thailand to register late. They are found in most sectors of the economy such as farming, fishing, retail, the leisure industry and condominium building. In Pattaya, they are also found working for contractors responsible for the many road projects which include repairs, lighting, burying cables, sewage, water drainage and highway widening.
To date, there are only two visas which exempt foreigners from the 90 days bureaucracy: the four year Smart visa (widely used in the Economic Corridors for foreign technological experts) and the 10-year Long Term Visa aimed at rich global citizens, retirees on high pensions and executives looking to enjoy the income tax benefits. Permanent residents, who have no end visa date in their passport, do not report to immigration but have a separate bureaucracy which requires them to report annually to their local police station with their red book. During the covid pandemic, senior immigration officials said that the whole 90 days bureaucracy would be reviewed. However, nothing yet.