Lao Expats May Receive Land Rights

The government is examining its policies on Lao expatriates’ land ownership rights in Laos so those returning to their mother country can have a place to set up a permanent life.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Lao Overseas Affairs Director General, Mr Thuan Vorasarn, spoke to Vientiane Times last week about possible changes to land laws related to Lao expatriates returning home.

“The department has proposed to the related authorities to include the issue into their considerations for the draft National Land Policy and for the amendment to the Law on Land,” he said.

Mr Thuan said about 160 former Lao residents had asked the government for permanent residency in Laos since 2011, 49 of whom had been approved. The rest are still under consideration.

The government receives applications through Lao embassies in foreign countries and through the department in Vientiane.

While Mr Thuan would not elaborate on possible policy details, he said it was logical for people to have land ownership rights once the government had approved their permanent residency.

He said the Party Central Committee Secretariat resolution on Lao Overseas Affairs called Lao people living abroad “inseparable” from the nation and saw their potential for national development.

Mr Thuan said there had be en a gradual improvement of government policy related to Lao people living abroad in recent years, including extending free-of-charge visas to visit the mother country from one month to three months . Visas can be extended for free.

About 80 percent of the 500,000 Lao people living abroad hold the citizenships of their new home countries.

Mr Thuan said no expatriates had asked to return to their original nationality but many had enquired about the government’s policy on the issue.

Under Lao law, foreigners and former citizens can be granted permission to live in Laos permanently under certain conditions, with their rights and interests to be protected by Lao law and the international conventions and treaties to which the country is party. The policy also defines the conditions of and procedures for applying for permanent residency.

Mr Thoun said the Party resolution appreciated Lao expatriates who remained proud of their former-nationality, their love for their mother country and relatives, Lao customs and culture and their contribution to the nation’s development.

Source: Vientiane Times

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