​Cambodia starts issuing residency cards to ethnic Vietnamese

The Cambodian government is set to open a path to citizenship for roughly 70,000 ethnic Vietnamese people living in Cambodia.

The plan was announced during the year-end meeting of the Immigration Department under Cambodia’s Interior Ministry on February 28, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

At the gathering, immigration chief Sok Phal said the system would be similar to the green cards afforded to immigrants in countries like the United States or Canada.

​cambodia starts issuing residency cards to ethnic vietnamese hinh 0
Ethnic Vietnamese students at the Tonlé Sap in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“Not everybody will be recognized,” Nouv Leakhena, deputy head of the immigration department, said. “When they apply, we have to check them. But most of them, I think they can.”

Nguyen Viet Dat, vice-president of the Vietnamese-Cambodian association in Pursat Province, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper he was in charge of guiding ethnic Vietnamese to register for their residency cards.

“Some of the people here have already been issued with the documentation,” Dat continued.

This green card will be replaced with a yellow one after two years, he stated, adding that a pink card will be issued after another two years.

In accordance with Cambodian laws, ethnic Vietnamese who get residency cards may apply for citizenship after seven years, Dat elaborated.

Lo Min, a Vietnamese man who lives near the Tonlé Sap in Siem Reap Province, was showing his residency card with joy.

“My family and many other Vietnamese people have lived here for a very long time. Our only wish is to settle with a stable life in order live, work, and contribute to Cambodia’s development,” Min said.

According to a Phnom Penh-based diplomat, the plan is a positive move by the Cambodian government.

He hoped that more favorable conditions will be provided for the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia to build their lives.

In early October 2017, Cambodian authorities moved forward with a plan to revoke official documents, which were said to be “improperly” issued, from tens of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese.

Those who have lived in Cambodia for a long time were required to file an application with authorities to check whether they can get the status as an immigrant.

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