Immigration Factors To Be Aware Of
In 2014, African travelers (identified by name and photo) reported:
- Being detained by immigration "for about an hour and a half" at Phnom Penh airport, as immigration officials "separated me off and went through all my documents".
- Being required to pay higher fees (as much as double) to immigration officials to renew visa.
- Being required to do extra paperwork to renew visa (provide a police report).
- Being unable to obtain the one-year visa.
The National Police responded that the Cambodian government did not have any policies that discriminated against black people or citizens of African countries in regards to border controls or visas (“We consider them the same as other nationals”), and that any immigration official who asked for more than the standard fee for an entry visa was acting corruptly and should be reported.
in 2016 it was reported:
...when it comes to immigration and obtaining visas, Nigerian nationals are routinely asked to pay more than the official fee,
or to hand over additional “fees” upon arrival...Among this year’s issues was that of comedian Idisi Akpobome. Despite having
procured a visa before arriving in August, Akpobome was denied entry at Phnom Penh’s airport after he refused to pay a $1,000
Three senior officials at the department of immigration declined to comment on the issue of visa “fees”.
In short, the official position is that the behavior reported by these Africans was not due to discrimination, that they were considered the same as other nationals, and that they encountered immigration officials who were acting corruptly. Therefore, the logical conclusion to draw is that every traveler to Cambodia should be prepared for the possibility of encountering immigration officials acting corruptly and demanding "fees".
In Transparency International's 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, Cambodia ranked near the bottom at 160.
Discrimination against Vietnamese in Cambodia (both nationals of Vietnam, and ethnic Vietnamese who have resided for generations in territory under the rule of Cambodia) is widespread and well documented. One article sums up the situation in its title: "Cambodia's Anti-Vietnam Obsession".
Under the Khmer Rouge, ethnic Vietnamese suffered mass deportation to Vietnam - and not allowed to take birth and citizenship documentation with them. After the regime's fall, they were allowed to return but were issued documents that identified them as "immigrant”, “foreign national”, “Vietnamese national”, or “ethnic Vietnamese”. The current authorities still maintain this status: according to one study, contrary to Cambodian law, children born to ethnic Vietnamese in floating village communities are excluded from citizenship, as local enforcement officials believed that ethnic Vietnamese could not apply for birth certificates. Acquisition of Cambodian ID cards is predominantly through informal steep payments to local authorities or individual enforcement officials.
Excluded from citizenship and classified by Cambodian authorities as “Vietnamese national” (despite having no ties to Vietnam),
the ethnic Vietnamese are then rounded up as "illegal immigrants" whenever the government feels the need for a "tough on illegals"
campaign (the ruling party came to power as a Vietnam-backed government, which is viewed as a political liability given the public's
historical grievances against Vietnam). A
December 2015 Phnom Penh Post article
A year-long crackdown on illegal immigration equated to a threefold increase in deportations in the first 11 months of 2015,
with 4,312 foreigners sent home versus just 1,307 in the same period last year, according to a Department of Immigration report
The proportion of Vietnamese deportees is over 90 per cent this year, an increase from 2014, when 81 per cent of all deportees were Vietnamese...
...[immigration department chief, Uk Hai Sela] said that some deportees come back illegally, requiring police to arrest and deport them again.
“They did not commit a serious crime in our country, but they did not have valid documents such as passports, visas and work permits,” said Hai Sela.
In April 2017,
the government announced:
...plans to retroactively strip citizenship from children of immigrants whom they say were mistakenly awarded Cambodian
nationality as long as 30 years ago...
...According to the ministry’s own report, the policy would mostly affect Vietnamese immigrants living in Cambodia.