‘Blue cards’ to be replaced early 2011

Saturday, October 9, 2010
Issue 1135, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 546
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The new pocket-sized work permits for imported labour are expected to be issued starting January 2011, a Public Security Police (PSP) official told the Macau Daily Times yesterday.

Since July 6 the PSP, which is also in charge of Macau’s immigration services, have ceased issuing the old-style work permits, commonly referred to as “blue cards”, to new applicants.

According to deputy superintendent Vincent Lao Kuok Hei, the Macau-registered company which is responsible for producing the newly designed identity cards is experiencing “some technical issues”.

Yet, Lao told the MDT that imported workers who have lodged their blue card applications after July 6 will be the first batch to receive the new-style cards expected in January 2011.

During this period, the PSP said these non-residents can prove that they are a legal worker in Macau by showing the stay permit stamp on their travel documents and also the receipt of their work permit applications.

The Macau Association of Banks has already been informed about this provisional arrangement and local banks will open accounts for these non-local workers accordingly, a PSP official said on a radio program yesterday.

With regard to those imported workers who have already obtained the blue cards before July 6, Lao said they can also choose to go to the immigration department to apply for the new pocket-sized cards from January 2011, but a fee – the amount is not yet known – will be charged.

The deputy superintendent stressed that even if these workers do not go to get the new cards, their current blue cards will remain valid until the date specified.

Another option is that these workers can wait until their blue cards expire as the PSP will then automatically issue the new-style cards to them when they renew their work permits in the future.

At present, non-resident workers from the Mainland can use their Travel Passes to enter or leave Macau through the automated passenger clearance system, subject to prior registration with the Macau immigration department, Lao said.

However, the Travel Passes are the size of a passport and they may not be very convenient for the workers to carry around.

Lao said from the PSP’s perspective, the change in the design and size of the non-local labour work permits can make it easier to identify whether or not the cards are genuine. As for the imported labour’ side, he said the new credit-card sized and chip-embedded work permits are more “handy” to carry to work and to go through immigration.

Hong Kong workers?

Nowadays Hong Kong residents can use their identity cards to enter or exit Macau through the automated passenger clearance system. However, after the existing blue cards are replaced, non-local workers from Hong Kong may be required to enter Macau by their newly issued work permits only.

A PSP spokeswoman reiterated to the MDT yesterday that the immigration arrangement specially for imported labour from the neighbouring SAR has not been finalised at this stage, but she said the Macau Government has studied Hong Kong’s practice where foreign domestic helpers are only allowed to enter the territory using the special work permits issued by the Government instead of their passports.

“A person can only enter Macau either as a tourist or an imported worker, he/she cannot be both,” she added.

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