Permanent Residency for Exiles, Foreigners to Start Next Week

By May Kha 27 November 2014

RANGOON — Foreigners who have resided in Burma for more than one year will be able to apply for permanent residency from Dec. 5, according to the Ministry for Immigration and Population.

Details will soon be announced about the entitlements and tax obligations of permanent residents. Former Burmese citizens and foreign investors will be treated separately in their permanent residency application, according to Than Naing Tun, director of the ministry.

“[Foreigners] can’t apply permanent residency at once, but only after one year they live here with the proving document,” he said.

“Former Burmese citizens who have taken another nationality will be given more entitlements. They will also be charged less in permanent residency applications.”

Though a general agreement has been reached about the tax rate to be levied on potential permanent residents, it has yet to be confirmed in detail, an officer from the Internal Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance told The Irrawaddy this week.

Under the policy, foreign investors will be charged US$500 each to apply for permanent residency.

“Foreigners will be charged $500 per head. We’ll charge less for their children, depending on their age,” the Finance Ministry official said. “If Burmese exiles want to come back, they will be charged half.”

The permanent residency systems of Asean countries and some European countries were studied to develop a model suitable for Burma, said Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi.

According to the proposal, the initial residency period is five years and applicants can extend year by year after the initial period expires.

“We’ll officially launch the system on December 5. For the time being, we are preparing to issue a by-law,” said Than Naing Tun.

Than Naing Tun said that the permanent residency policy is aimed at wooing more foreign investment and promoting national reconciliation. He added that the ministry decided to grant permanent residency only to those who had lived in the country for more than one year for fear that a more lax system would open the door to members of international criminal gangs.

“Foreigners from any country can apply for permanent residency, but we have contacted Interpol for security and we won’t allow applications from those who are on Interpol’s list,” he said.

A team comprised of 11 ministers and headed by vice-president Nyan Tun will oversee the scrutinizing of permanent residency applicants, according to the Immigration and Population Ministry. The invitation for permanent residency application will be posted on the ministry’s website.