Former citizens dominate PR applications

Former Myanmar citizens comprise almost two-thirds of those who have taken out application forms for a newly launched permanent residency program, an official said last week.

The program was launched in December and is targeted at skilled foreigners and investors. It has been criticised by exiled politicians, who say many of the conditions imposed on PR holders are unfair and contrary to earlier promises.

On December 29, the government began distributing the application forms through a new office on Yangon’s 37th Street in Kyauktada township.

Daw Thidar Aung, the head of the office’s Permanent Residency Section, said 167 people had taken out applications by the end of the first week, including 98 former citizens.

Only three were foreign experts and investors, while the rest were considered “social” applicants.

She said she had no further information on those who had taken out forms.

“We are just distributing the application forms, answering inquiries and explaining the process,” she said.

Daw Thidar Aung said the office had not yet begin accepting applications but expected to announce a date within two weeks.

Myanmar embassies will also be able to accept applications from former citizens, she said.

“When we launch the online application process, it will be possible [for former citizens] to apply through embassies because they don’t need to have lived in the country for one year before submitting the application,” she said.

Yangon resident U Aye Myint said he had inquired at the 37th Street office about the permanent residency program last week for a friend.

“He is a former citizen who now lives in Taiwan. The three-month visas were not very convenient for him to do business,” he said.

While the PR program is open to those who have taken up foreign citizenship, it excludes those who have received political asylum or been classified as a refugee.

Those accepted are eligible for PR status for five years. Applicants must pay a US$1000 non-refundable application fee and a $1000 annual fee. The fees are halved for former citizens.


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