Immigration officials have begun to process the first batch of applications for permanent residency.
While an office set up in downtown Yangon has temporarily stopped answering enquiries or handing out application forms, they insist the process has not been suspended and an online version of the application is still available.
Sixty applications – including 34 from former citizens – were received from January 29 to December 5, officials said. Since December 29, 446 people, including 236 former citizens, have taken a hard-copy of the application form from an office on Yangon’s 37th Street that has been set up to assist prospective applicants.
The scheme, which was first announced last November, has been criticised for appearing to impose restrictions on the political activity of those granted PR status. Those who have received refugee status or political asylum are ineligible.
The program is open to both former Myanmar citizens, who receive a 50 percent discount on the annual fee, as well as other foreigners.
Applicants must pay a US$500 non-refundable application fee, as well as a $1000 annual fee. Those accepted are eligible for PR status for five years.
“The application process is still open and we are accepting forms in hard copy. Applicants can download online forms free from the ministry’s website,” said immigration official U Aung Zaw Moe.
An officer from 37th Street office said staff have stopped providing assistance to prospective applicants while they examine the first batch.
They will resume services at an as-yet-unannounced date, he said.
“We just want to focus on scrutinising the applications we have received. There are no other reasons. It is not because of a shortage of staff,” he said.
Eligible applicants will be interviewed by the central PR committee before receiving final approval.
Source: MYANMAR TIMES