Permanent residence system taking shape

Foreign professionals, technicians, investors, former Myanmar citizens and spouses of citizens will be eligible for permanent resident status under a scheme to be unveiled later this month.

Applications could begin on December 5, the Ministry of Immigration and Population has announced, in a move which some business leaders say could make the country more attractive to foreign investors.

A senior official in the immigration registration department for Yangon Region told The Myanmar Times he was awaiting further instructions from Nay Pyi Taw.

“A start date of the first week of December was confirmed, but we don’t yet know how applications can be made or how much it will cost, or what documentation should be produced,” he said.

Vice President U Nyan Tun told a meeting of the management committee for the Permanent Residence System for Foreigners on November 7 that the scheme was being introduced for the first time after thorough negotiations on all its provisions.

According to the state-owned media, the vice president said the system would enable scholars, experts, intellectuals and investors from other countries, as well as former Myanmar citizens, to contribute to national development.

Under the existing 1982 Citizenship Law, dual citizenship is not permitted. Investors, experts and former citizens can stay in Myanmar on the basis of business or social visas whose duration is limited to 70 or 28 days.

Under the permanent residence system, applicants will be granted leave to stay for an initial period of five years, which can be extended.

Further details, including fees, are expected to be announced later this month, according to senior officials.
While the policy change may not have much impact from a tax perspective, Pedro Jose Bernardo, principal foreign consulting attorney at Kelvin Chia Yangon, said companies establishing businesses in Myanmar may find the long term residence policy a welcome development.

“From an operations and administrative perspective …companies will find that the new policy will eliminate the need to arrange for the renewal of the business visas or stay permits of their foreign employees,” he said. “Considering the number of foreign professionals and employees currently residing in the country, which is growing at a steady rate, this will result in a substantial reduction of administrative costs.”

Potential investors are likely to factor in the residency policies for expats when they make investment decisions, he added.

“Further, on a macro level, investors may perceive this new policy as a continuation of the government’s trend towards the globalisation of Myanmar’s economy and is indicative of a rapidly stabilising market,” he added.

The vice president has urged officials to enact the necessary by-laws to introduce the system as soon as possible.
Besides businesspeople, there are others who could benefit from the policy change.

U Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), who was exiled between 1999 and 2013, told The Myanmar Times he holds permanent residence in the Czech Republic, but wants again to become a citizen of Myanmar. “I don’t want permanent residence and I would never apply for it. I really want to become a citizen. I applied in September but have had no response.”


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