Immigration Department Suspends Penalties For Returning Lao Migrants

Source: Vientiane Times

All Lao nationals wishing to return to Laos from Thailand, including those who have been working there illegally, are being encouraged to enter at official border crossings without fear of being fined.

The move is aimed at ensuring that everyone entering Laos passes through immigration channels and undergoes screening for Covid-19, instead of entering at unmanned crossings and avoiding virus checks and quarantine.

The change in policy has been sanctioned by the Department of Immigration, General Department of Public Security, Ministry of Public Security.

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A notice issued to this effect on Tuesday supports the Prime Minister’s Order on the Reinforcement of Measures for the Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The notice instructs Lao nationals with the correct documents to present themselves to immigration officials at border crossings.

Those who entered Thailand illegally should also report to immigration officials but will merely be issued with a warning and will not be fined.

People in possession of the correct documents such as an ID card and family registration book are instructed to pass through immigration as usual.

Lao nationals who do not have proof of citizenship are instructed to provide immigration officials with their personal details, family history, and the nature of their work in Thailand, so that their nationality can be proved before they are allowed to enter Laos.

Everyone entering Laos must comply with the rules laid down by the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevent and Control which require people to be tested for the virus and then spend 14 days at a quarantine centre.

The authorities will arrange for medical staff and vehicles to pick people up at border crossings and take them to a quarantine centre.

The ministry hopes that everyone returning from Thailand will undergo screening to lower the risk of Covid-19 transmission, as well as ensure that people enter Laos legally.

Authorities around the country are stepping up border controls to prevent people entering Laos illegally from Thailand. Soldiers and police are monitoring boats crossing the Mekong River along the border with Thailand and have ordered all boats, such as fishing boats and ferries, not to use the river from April 19-30.

People are forbidden from using any kind of boat for fishing on the river, especially wooden longboats.

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