New work permit process for foreign experts ‘burdensome’, says law firm

Recent changes to work permit application procedures will make it more complicated for companies to hire foreign experts, the Yangon office of international law firm DFDL said last week.

The changes, announced in early October by the Myanmar Investment Commission, took effect on October 21 and apply to foreigners seeking to work for MIC-registered companies as senior managers, technical experts or consultants.

“Though a similar work permit requirement existed previously, many MIC permit/endorsement companies view the newly expanded requirement as burdensome and disruptive,” DFDL said in an analysis of the changes released on October 27.

DFDL also said limited information was available on the exact criteria and procedure necessary to secure approval for work permit applications.

“For example, there is no guidance as to whether this applies to short/medium/long-term appointments, or to all,” it said.

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The changes list the required documents for work permit applications and require them to be submitted in advance or within seven days of the foreign expert’s arrival in Myanmar.

If the foreign expert resigns before or at the end of their stay, their employer is required to notify the MIC and provide documentary evidence of resignation and departure airline ticket.

“This requirement indicates that the intended period of stay must be known from the outset of the foreign expert’s entry into the country, something which may be difficult to confirm,” DFDL said.

It said another concern was that definitions distinguishing “foreign employees” from “foreign experts” were not clear. “Generally however, technicians, senior management level positions, and foreign consultants may be considered ‘foreign experts’”, DFDL said.

It noted that the announcement does not apply to foreign employees of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration “service” companies.

Foreign employees of companies not registered with MIC are only required to obtain a business visa, though that depends on how long they intend to work in the country, DFDL said.

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