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If I have a Criminal Record will I be Denied Entry to Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are going to be discussing Immigration, specifically Thai Immigration’s discretion with respect to allowing those entry into the Kingdom in the specific context of those who have a criminal history in a jurisdiction outside the Kingdom of Thailand.

Basically, we have translated and we are kind of paraphrasing the Immigration Act but the Immigration Act of BE 2522, that is the Buddhist year, the Western calendar is 1979, section 12 subsection 6 and again pardon me if maybe the translation is not quite as smooth as we would like it to be but I am simply using this as sort of a conceptual device to have a basic understanding of the idea behind the subsection. The other thing is, what I am saying here should not be taken as a perfect interpretation of the law. This is simply for informational use. Those who think they have an issue with respect to this subsection are strongly advised to contact a legal professional, those who deal with Thai Immigration rather frequently in order to ascertain whether this subsection applies to them.

So subsection 12 reads: “Foreigners who fall into any of the following categories are excluded from entry to the Kingdom of Thailand. Now going down to subsection 6: those having been imprisoned by judgment of the Thai courts or by a lawful injunction or by the judgment of a court in a foreign country except where the penalty is for a petty offense, this is sort of a misdemeanor, or negligence or there is a specific exception under the ministerial regulations.”

Now there are specific Ministerial Regulations which come along and provide nuance to the overriding Act but understand what we are talking about here. If you have a major felony on your record, very likely the Thai Authorities can use that to deny you entry to the Kingdom or to revoke your lawful status in the Kingdom if you are in non-immigrant status or tourist visa status or visa exemption status, and deport you. But this is important:  except for petty offenses. There is an exception for petty offenses. That is basically misdemeanors. It is possible if you have got a misdemeanor, reckless driving charge or something from the United States something akin to that, and negligence. Negligence is another one, it might not, even a  rather a serious offense, if it is a negligence,  if the underlying cause of action stems from negligence then it might not be specifically excludable under this section.

Now under section 16 which we did a specific video on this channel, under section 16 of the Act, it makes very clear that the Immigration Authorities have very broad discretionary powers to exclude those who could be deemed to be a hazard to, or could deemed to be a threat to the public safety of Thailand, the morality of Thailand, the culture of Thailand. These are very vague notions and they are vague for reasons. Very much akin to the Doctrine of Consular Absolutism or Consular non-reviewability of Consular officers reviewing the facts of a visa applicant. Basically the Courts in the United States have said “Look we are not going to walk around reviewing each Consular Officer’s factual findings. They are the person on the ground; they made a decision sort of on the ground and in real time. We are going to stand by that decision”, very similar to Immigration Officers. They are the ones at the Port of Entry, they are the ones seeing the individual, sizing the individual up and they have to deal with, or they have to make their decision under their discretion, and it is my opinion that a petty offense, if they know about it or a misdemeanor shall we say, that offense is probably going to be, they are immediately going to sort of say ”I know it when I see it” kind of thing, they know they are going to know that they are going to allow that person entry fairly quickly. But that being said, the law is pretty clear on it. They have the discretion to exclude those folks and they can do it under section 16, if they don't do it specifically under this section of the law and for that reason you are just kind of stuck with it if you are found excludable even if the underlying offense that they found you excludable for was rather minimal, they still have the discretion to go ahead and exclude.