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Permanent Residence of a Foreigner Rules
Posted :
Sunday, February 15, 2015

On November 18th, 2014, the Myanmar Ministry of Immigration and Population announced the Permanent Residence of a Foreigner Rules as per the rights included in Act 16 of Myanmar Immigration Laws, 1947. Many other countries have similar systems including Myanmar’s fellow ASEAN members: Brunei; Malaysia; Singapore; the Philippines; Thailand; all member countries of the European Union; and the United States of America. This legislation is aimed at improvement of Myanmar’s continuing development and engagement with the International community.

Section 2: Types of Applicants and Requirements

This law will apply to all foreign nationals including ex-Myanmar nationals who are now citizens of other countries. Four categories of foreign nationals can apply for permanent residence in Myanmar:

  1. Foreign nationals – including ex-Myanmar citizens – who are experts in their respective fields.
  2. Foreign nationalsincluding ex-Myanmar citizenswho want to invest in Myanmar accordingly to Foreign Investment Law.
  3. Ex-Myanmar citizens who are neither skilled personnel nor investors but can contribute to the educational, economic and social development in Myanmar.
  4. Foreign nationalsincluding ex-Myanmar citizenswho are legally married to Myanmar citizen spouses; and their legal children under the age of 18.

For ex-Myanmar citizens, they must already hold non-resident visas in Myanmar before applying for the permanent residence. For foreign nationals who intend to invest in Myanmar, they must have visited and stayed in Myanmar on non-resident visas for at least three years consecutively within the past ten years from their application dates. However, for foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Myanmar citizens, this length is reduced to two years consecutively within the past ten years from their application dates. During their stays, their time spent outside of the country each year must not exceed 90 days consecutively.

All applicants—regardless of the types of permanent residence they are applying—must not be considered as international refugees; must not have sought political asylums in any country; must be free from domestic, foreign, or international criminal records; must have good health and show official endorsement from their respective countries that they are free from infectious diseases; must sign and submit the agreement to respect and obey Myanmar’s sovereignty and to act in the interests of Myanmar; and must be able to undergo assessment in person when contacted by the Implementation Central Committee for Permanent Residence for Foreign Nationals. In addition to the above requirements, a number of requirements apply to individual types of applicants.

Applicant Type

For family applicants, the applications will be voided should one of the following events occurs to the sponsoring Myanmar citizens before the applicants obtain permanent residence:

  • Death
  • Termination or revocation of Myanmar citizenship
  • Divorce from the applicants
  • Disownment of the applicants

Section 3: Application for Permanent Residence

The applicants must submit their applications to the section of Permanent Residence Department in person with the following supporting documents:

  1. Permanent Residence Application Form (Form Ah Ma Na-1).
  2. Three 1.5 inches X 2 inches color photos taken within the past six months.
  3. Original and copy of a valid passport and travel document (if the applicants have more than one passport, originals and copies of the additional passports must be attached).
  4. Supporting documents that prove the original citizenship of the applicants.
  5. Letter of employment or invitation letter with at least one year of validity.

Additional Application Requirements

After officials in charge of the section of Permanent Residence Department have received the applications in accordance with the rules, they must review the applications as necessary and submit them to the Implementation Working Committee as soon as possible.

After the Implementation Working Committee has received the applications, it must examine whether the applications conform to the documentation standards of this Rule and are congruent with the orders and directives from the Ministry of Immigration and Population. Afterwards, the Working Committee shall

  1. Submit the applications to the Implementation Central Committee along with recommendations for approval if the applications conform to its requirements.
  2. Request required documents from applicants if the applications are incomplete or do not conform to the requirements.
  3. After these requests are sent to the applicants due to incomplete or unsatisfactory applications, submit the applications to the Central Implementation Committee along with the explanations for objection.

After receiving the applications with recommendations from the Working Committee, the Central Committee shall

  1. For applications approved by the Working Committee, interview the applicants and verify their applications and documents in person and notify the approval to the applicants by writing should it decide to grant them permanent residence status.
  2. For applications objected by the Working Committee, examine the explanations and reject the applications and notify the rejection to the applicants by writing.

Section 4: Application for the Permanent Residence Certificate

Within 60 days after the applicants have received the approval notification letter from the Central Committee, they must apply for the permanent residence certificate at the Section in person along with the following documents:

  1. Application for permanent residence certificate (Form Ah Ma Na-II)
  2. Originals and copies of the valid passports and travel documents; and official documents that prove the original citizenship of the applicants
  3. The original approval notification letter from the Implementation Central Committee
  4. For applicants with accompanying family members, the following documents must be submitted:
  • Records of household members list
  • Curriculum vitae of family members such as names, occupations, etc.
  • Birth certificates of children
  • Official adoption certificates for adopted children under the age of 18

After receiving the applications and reviewing them in accordance with order and directives from the Ministry of Immigration and Population, the responsible officials at the Section must collect the prescribed fees and provide the permanent residence certificates.

If the applicants are unable to submit their applications for permanent residence certificate within 60 days, they must submit explanations to the Central Committee within 120 days of receiving the notification letter.

Section 5: Validation and Registration for the Term of the Permanent Residence and the Annual Term

Those who have obtained permanent residence certificates will be allowed initial five years of permanent residence. After this five-year period, they can extend it for additional five years each time. During permanent residency, the residents must revalidate their Permanent residence certificate annually within 30 days after each year has passed. The revalidation must be done at the Section with the following documents:

  1. Application Form to Revalidate Permanent residence certificate (Form Ah Ma Na-3)
  2. Originals and copies of the valid passports and travel documents; and official documents that prove the original citizenship of the applicants
  3. Originals and copies of the permanent residence certificates
  4. Documents permitted to continue to operate business from the relevant departments
  5. For permanent residents who want to invest in Myanmar, tax exemption certificates issued in accord with the existing law, and original and copies of valid and unexpired company registrations

Section 6: Application for the Extension of the Permanent Residence

If permanent residents plan to extend their permanent residence status, they must submit the renewal applications (Form Ah Ma Na-4) along with the same documents in the original applications for permanent residence (in Section III) at least 90 days before the term is due.

Section 7: Application for the Household Member List of the Person Who Obtains the Permanent Residence Certificate

For their residence to be in accordance with the existing laws, permanent residents must apply for household member list at their respective township department of immigration and national registration with the following documents:

  1. Application form for household member list of permanent residents (Form Ah Ma Na-5)
  2. Originals and copies of the valid passports
  3. Originals and copies of the permanent residence certificates
  4. Curriculum vitae of the household members (with originals and copies of supporting documents)
  5. The endorsement of residence from relevant ward or village-tract administrators
  6. Originals and copies of the tenancy or procurement agreements for the houses

Section 10: Particulars to be Carried Out as to the Birth or Decease of the Child in Myanmar

Child born in Myanmar to a parent who is a permanent resident can become a permanent resident as well. In this case, the parent must contact the relevant ward or village-tract administrators within 7 days and apply for change of curriculum vitae of the permanent resident at the township level department of immigration and national registration within 30 days. The latter shall verify whether the application conforms to the relevant orders and directives of the Ministry of Immigration and Population and then report it to its union-level department, which will add the child’s name on the permanent residence certificate.

Section 12: Imposition of Fees

For the initial application for permanent residence, applicants must pay a non-refundable fee of US$ 500 at the Section. Those who are granted permanent residence must pay the following fees when picking up the permanent residence certificates or validating their status:

  • US$ 1,000 annually for foreign nationals
  • US$ 500 annually for ex-Myanmar citizens
  • US$ 300 annually for each of the legal children between the age of 7 and 18. (This fee does not apply to legal children under the age of 7)

Every year, should the permanent residents fail to validate their status within 30 days of their anniversary for permanent residence; a late fee is imposed on them.

  • To those who are no more than 60 days late, the late fee of US$ 200 applies.
  • To those who are between 60 to 180 days late, the late fee of US$ 500 applies.
  • For issuance of replacement certificate, the applicants must pay US$ 300.
  • All of the abovementioned fees must be paid by the applicants in person.

Section 13: Rights and Duties

Responsibilities: Permanent residents shall

  • Respect and obey the sovereignty and existing laws of Myanmar and their respective native countries.
  • Pay taxes for the income earned in Myanmar in accordance with the existing revenue law.
  • Provide concrete explanations and obtain permissions if they want to leave and stay outside Myanmar for more than one year within their five-year terms.
  • Apply for household member lists at their respective township department of immigration and national registration.
  • Maintain their permanent residence certificates with care to prevent loss and destruction.

Rights: Permanent residents may

  • Have title ownership of Condominium apartments in accordance with existing laws.
  • Apply for household member lists for their Condominium apartments bought under their titles.
  • Add their legal spouses, parents, and children to the household member lists. If they do not have permanent residence, they can stay with non-resident visas, which can be extended.
  • Make multiple entries into Myanmar with their valid permanent residence certificates and valid passports.
  • For ex-Myanmar citizens, after five years as permanent residents in the country, reapply for Myanmar citizenship with the statements to relinquish their current nationality. Even if they are not granted Myanmar citizenship, they can apply to retain their permanent residence.
  • Be waived of customs duty in accordance with existing orders and directives of the Customs Department for personal items that are imported 90 days after the initial permanent residence certificate is granted.
  • Apart from official restricted areas or prohibited areas prescribed by the government, have the right to work and reside in all other areas.
  • Operate businesses that are permitted to permanent residents under foreign investment laws.
  • Have the same rights to medical care as Myanmar citizens.
  • Have the rights to education in accordance with the stipulation by the Ministry of Education

Section 14: Prohibition and Restrictions

Prohibitions: Permanent residents shall not

  • Transfer the permanent residence certificates to any other person.
  • Edit the information listed in the certificate unless approved by the Myanmar government.
  • Refuse the request by inspection officer to check the permanent residence certificates and other documents.

Restrictions: Permanent residents shall not

  • Have the right to be elected as a representative of any Hluttaw or any other public office
  • Have the right to vote for any Hluttaw in their constituencies.
  • Be permanent employees of the government

Section 15: Revocation and Cancellation

Permanent residence will be revoked if any of the followings occurs:

  1. Violating any prohibition ordered by the Implementation Central Committee
  2. Participating in, contributing to, and assisting political parties and organizations
  3. Engaging in and provoking any racial or religious conflict
  4. Providing wrongful information, lying, and forging documents in the applications
  5. Using marriage as a means to obtaining permanent residence
  6. For those who have gained their permanent residence through marriage to Myanmar citizens, termination or revocation of citizenships of their Myanmar spouses; divorce from their spouses; or remarriage
  7. For permanent residents who are the legal children under the age of 18 of Myanmar citizens, termination or revocation of citizenships of their Myanmar parents or disownment by them
  8. For experts and investors, switching to other jobs or businesses without the permission of the Implementation Central Committee within three years after being granted permanent residence
  9. Failure to validate the permanent residence status within 180 days at the end of each year after being granted such status
  10. Violating restrictions and prohibitions that apply to permanent residence

Termination of permanent residence will occur if the following occurs:

  • Death of permanent residents
  • Penalization and deportation for violating Myanmar’s prevailing laws

The Implementation Central Committee’s ruling on approving or rejecting applications, revocation, and termination for permanent residence is final.

Questions Raised

Although the Rules cover a wide range of topic for foreign nationals to gain permanent residence in Myanmar, there are a few issues that remain unclear or uncovered. The very first of all has to deal with the application process itself. In Section 3, the Rules mentions that applications will be voided for family applicants if the sponsoring Myanmar citizen for the applicants is deceased before the applicants obtain their permanent residents. However, if the Myanmar sponsor dies after the applicants have gained permanent residence, what will happen to the permanent residence status is not clear. Also, as mentioned previously in the article, whether and how Myanmar citizens can apply permanent residence only for their children remain to be seen.

The second issue concerns with the property rights of the permanent residents. The Rules explicitly states that permanent residents can now buy condominium apartments under their names. However, there is no mention of what is going to happen to the ownerships of the apartments if the owners’ permanent residence is terminated. Will the ownership of their properties be taken away by the government or will they be allowed to sell their apartments from outside of the country? Perhaps these issues will be covered in the Condominium Law that is still under draft. The final issue with the Rules concerns with the investment by the permanent residences. U Aung Naing Oo, Secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), has already stated that almost 50 percent of foreign investment during the military government’s era used Myanmar citizens as proxies. Thus, it is not impossible for permanent residents to invest in Myanmar under their spouses’ names so that the investment would fall under the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law and therefore bypass the restrictions placed on foreign investors.

Another important question is whether Myanmar citizen can transfer their businesses and investments to their family members who are permanent residents. In case of death of Myanmar citizen owners, can their foreign resident family members inherit the businesses and properties? Will the business be under the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law or Foreign Investment Law? Since Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) has been trying to combine these two laws into the same one, the new law might be able to answer these questions for permanent residents.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Myanmar has turned a new page for the reform with the announcement of the Permanent Residence of a Foreigner Rules. The granting of permanent residence is expected to encourage foreign experts, investors, and former Myanmar citizens to contribute to the development of the country, especially in much needed sectors. Certain areas such as banking and finance, engineering and science, education, oil and gas extraction and refining, energy, and agriculture would probably need much more foreign expertise than other sectors and could be allocated a higher quota of skilled permanent residents. Thus, Myanmar’s economy and international competitiveness should benefit greatly from this monumental change in Myanmar’s immigration chapter.

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