SAWADEE KA! Migration policy in Thailand

SAWADEE KA! Migration policy in Thailand

Immigration is a ongoing process with a whole history behind it. Individuals and groups of people have been moved from place to place all over the world. This ongoing process has spread different languages, culture and religions. Now a day’s migration is still here, all over the world people are forced or driven by the fact of new experiences or opportunities. During my International Relation minor in Bangkok. I found a interesting topic about the migration policy in Thailand. So I decide to write a blog about this subject migration. Should Thailand change their migration policy or should they be strict?

Introduction, Where is migration actually about?

First of all I will clarify what is immigration: Is the movement of non-native human beings into a country with the idea to stay there. There are several reasons for people to cross the borders and leave their previous country of citizenship this could be from a positive or negative point of view.

  • Economic opportunity
  • Climate or environmental reasons
  • Political freedom/conflict
  • Freedom of religion
  • Ethical conflicts
  • Natural disaster
  • Family reunion

There are two factors of motivation for immigrants, people need to leave with reason to survive or people are attracted to a new way of life

What is a Immigrant: A human being that cross the national borders to live there.

So now you know a small little tiny thing about migration how does Thailand deals with migration?

Migration in Thailand

Thailand is perfectly located in Asia, with this demographical advantage and a strong growing economy Thailand become attractive for immigrants. This especially compared with their neighbor countries with a weaker ecThailand 1onomy. This all attract and result in a large movement of migrants to Thailand from all over the world. For many years Thailand is in a hub of outgoing, incoming and transiting migration in Southeast Asia. According to J. Huguet, A. Chamratrithirong, C. Natali (2012) There are approximately 3.5 million migrants living in Thailand of the 3.5 million, 1 million is unregistered furthermore, of the 3.5 million migrants 85% is working and 3.2 million migrant come from neighboring countries.

The migration and migrant policy in Thailand

In 1992 Thailand started with a policy to register workers from Myanmar this along 10 provinces in Thailand. This expended and Thailand has now two ways of managing the labour migration from neighbor countries (Combodia, Lao people’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar)

  1. First one, Menoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Combodia, Lao people’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar, Stands for under which circumstances migrant workers are inducted in their own country and the supply of necessary documents to migrate commonly to Thailand based on employment.
  2. Second one, based on migrants from Combodia, Lao people’s Demogratic Republic and Myanmar, the migrants who entered Thailand infrequently and are therefore living and working in Thailand need to have their nationality verified by their own governments in order to get their work permission complete. After the nationality verification by their own governments and the nationality verification (NV) is realized, the migrant could apply for a work permit in Thailand.


The widely open economy attracts a huge amount of high skilled workers, professionals from all over the world . According to J. Huguet, A. Chamratrithirong, C. Natali (2012) in 2010 approximately 100.000 migrants got their work permits based on high skilled profession.

The international migrants (including the low-skilled workers) provide around 1cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) the impact of migrants is lager in specific work areas such as fishing and frozen food. Of the migrants 10% contribute more than 10% of the industrial sector.


By the fact that Thailand has a Labour Protection Act there is still no equal treatment between international and national migrants. According to J. Huguet, A. Chamratrithirong, C. Natali (2012) there is an difference in minimum wage, healthcare insurance or pension. The health care facilities issues in Thailand, how to finance the health system, the accessibility for migrants to the health system, the development of providing health quality and services for migrants. Everyone has the right to health-care access and equal human rights right?

A shocking fact even the health-care opportunities for children from migrants is not correct regulate in Thailand. According to J. Huguet, A. Chamratrithirong, C. Natali (2012) There are approximately 377.000 children with an age under 18 (11 per cent of the total migrant population) about 150.000 children are born in Thailand however the children fall under the same conditions as their parents and are not recognized as citizens of Thailand this makes a child not covered by the healt-care system in Thailand. However the Thai government change the policy to allow children of migrates to buy healthy insurance. So slowly the government change the policy to let children have access to health-care.

”Migrant health facilities and services should not be viewed entirely as a cost to government coffers but as an investment” International Migration Organization (2012)

Another fact of that around 45 per cent of the low-skilled migrants are woman working as domestic workers. However the work conditions are not equal based on gender in this particular sector(wages, vulnerabilities)

”as in many other destination countries, Thailand’s labour laws do not cover domestic workers who are overwhelmingly woman” International Migration Organization (2012)

According to the fast growing economy, migration could lead to build on a stronger economy for in the future by setting goals; centralize the migration policy include the different levels of migrants (high skilled- low skilled, unregistered and registered )

Why Thailand should not change their policy,

Cause by the fact of international migrant take over the employment of the Thai workers it leads lower wages and a decrease in employment in Thailand. It could be a negative effect on the thai economy due to the fact that the employers rather choose for cheaper migrants than origin Thai workers and invest less in labour developments and they will increase the labour productivity. Which could lead to a disadvantage of employment for Thai people.

Thailand could better invest in the neighbor countries to help them developing instead of accepting all the migrants workers who could take over the jobs Thai people. Due to the fact that the policy take a lot of time to develop and implement Thailand could take this in consideration.

How could Thailand change or improve their policy

According to J. Huguet, A. Chamratrithirong, C. Natali (2012);

  • According to the fast growing economy migration could lead to build on a stronger economy for in the future by setting goals; centralize the mirgration policy include the different levels of migrants (high skilled- low skilled, unregistered and registered )
  • A policy based on the long term goals according to the national social and economic development.
  • The nationality verification policy and registration system based on safety and the human rights.
  • Simplify the acceptation of MOU migrant workers
  • Support of coordination between countries regarding Irregular migration
  • On the long-term based another important aspect is the empowering of migrant workers for instance with creating migrant labour unions, guidance for migrants in their own native language about work conditions, wages, health-care, human rights ect.


I think Thailand should take in consideration that accepting migrants to explore the economy has positive and negative advantages as well. Changing the policy with strict rules and regulations could be an advantage for Thailand in growth of economy and fulfill vacant jobs. However Thailand could also think about how can we help our neighbor countries develop and become stronger together.


Huguet, J., Chamratrithirong, A., & Natali, C. (2012). Thailand at a crossroads: challenges and opportunities in leveraging migration for development. International Organization for Migration and Migration Policy Institute. Issue, (6).

Huguet, J. W., & Chamratrithirong, A. (2011). Thailand migration report 2011. Bangkok: International Organization for Migration.

Interesting articles about migration in Thailand:

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