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Government to close potential loophole for tourist-jobseekers

Vong Hin Fai disclosed that the government would amend immigration laws to stop tourists from becoming jobseekers.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

Vong Hin Fai, President of the Legislative Assembly’s Third Standing Committee, disclosed that the government would amend immigration laws to stop tourists from becoming jobseekers.

His comment was made after the Committee Meeting on Thursday, which focused on the amendment to the Foreign Labor Employment Law. The amendment was proposed out of the desire to forbid non-residents coming to Macau as tourists to look for jobs.

This amendment concerns only non-professional and household workers, and its objective will be achieved by the introduction of a new mechanism: the Arrival Certificate for Work Purpose.

The amendment will prevent tourists from coming into Macau to find employment.

However, an employment agency will not become a mandatory factor in the employment process. As such, an employer can directly hire a non-resident worker without a middle person. This is all set forth in Article 6 of the “Foreign Labor Employment Law”, which will not be amended, thus possibly leaving the loophole open. As such, a tourist might be hired while in Macau, and then leave Macau to allow their employer to obtain the required documents.

However, Vong responded that the government had pledged to amend other laws, particularly those concerning immigration, to close the loophole.

Vong also explained that the Committee had agreed to ask the government to introduce a timetable for the amendments to the other laws. The Committee wanted to know if these amendments would be conducted parallel to the “Foreign Labor Employment Law” amendment.

The Committee has also submitted several questions for the government to clarify, including questions regarding how the Arrival Certificate for Work Purpose can be applied.

It was also unclear whether the law applies to the employer, the employment agency or the employee, but Vong said on Thursday that “following the legal logic, it seems that it should be the employer or the employment agency applying for that.”

The bill also does not set forth the documents needed to process the application for the Arrival Certificate, nor to which authority the application should be made.

The Committee additionally questioned the exact nature of the relationship between the Permit to Remain and the Arrival Certificate.

The issuance of the Permit to Remain relies on the possession of the Arrival Certificate. But pursuant to Decree-law 8/2010, there is a third possible option: Tentative Permit to Remain.

Therefore, Vong said, “now it comes to the relationship between the Tentative Permit to Remain and the Arrival Certificate. The government should explain this to the Committee.”

The Arrival Certificate for Work Purpose must be approved prior to a non-resident worker’s arrival in Macau. As the government has revealed, upon a non-resident worker’s arrival in Macau, the status of the Arrival Certificate will be “activated”, but the government has not explained what legal effect this “activation” will have. There was also no explanation of whether this activation will allow the commencement of a labor relationship.

Vong explained that the law in action has a different definition: a labor relation commences once both the Permit to Remain and Employment Permit are issued. Therefore, the Committee requests an official explanation.

According to Macau Daily Times, clarification to this provision is crucial according to Vong, because it determines whether an employer is required to pay for the return transport of the employee.

The bill also has a provision that requires a non-resident worker arriving from outside of the Macau SAR to possess an Arrival Certificate for Work Purpose. Some lawmakers consider it necessary to specify whether the worker should be arriving from their home country.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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