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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawAre Visa Extension Applications in Thailand Getting More Difficult?

Are Visa Extension Applications in Thailand Getting More Difficult?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing visa extension applications and some rather interesting news has come to my attention here in recent days, especially within this last week; we are filming this in October 2018.

Really, really a lot of big stuff going on with respect to immigration. In fact a bunch of the videos we are filming off here at the same time pertain to immigration. This is arguably one of the biggest ones and this may be a major watershed moment in Thai Immigration history the likes of which we haven't seen something this significant arguably in years, possibly even in decades and across the board but this is a little bit more a narrow aspect of a greater theme but I think once folks hear what is going on, they will understand how big a deal this is.

I have heard about this from various different contacts we have down in Immigration, most notably one of our contacts went ahead and took a photo of this that was posted down at Thai Immigration and we will go ahead and post that up on this video here so you can see it. But further information has come out and to sort of clarify things, I do prefer to use press releases if you will in order to go ahead and provide further clarity on these matters because I often find that journalists do a better job succinctly in sort of summing things up than I do. That being said, I heard about a lot about this before anything was published. It's just when you see it in the press it is a lot more concisely put together. 

This is from nationmultimedia.com, so that is the Nation newspaper here in Thailand. The title is "New Immigration Head Clamps Down on Visa Tips". There is a specific video on this channel which we put up rather contemporaneously with this one that goes into some of this stuff specifically more in detail. But that being said there is a specific excerpt in here that I felt was quite relevant. Surachate, that is the current new Head of the Immigration Bureau, also referred to colloquially as "Big Joke", also vowed to go after all agents and their customers nationwide involved in procuring visa extensions with fake documents. He was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday over the arrest of an agent, I'm going to kind of redact out names here, just to do so. He was speaking at a press conference on Wednesday over the arrest of an agent who was acting as a visa extension agent. “She has been charged with falsifying tax documents for the purpose of seeking visa extensions for her clients.” Let me be clear, "falsifying tax documents". I will get into that her in a bit. Quoting further, “Local media reported that the agent was handling visas mostly for Indians, Pakistanis and Nigerians. The agent was arrested in Soi Dan Samrong after the paper trail led to the agent's residence there.” So just to leave out any names, the thing I found most interesting "falsifying tax documents". Never a good idea falsifying any documentation for a lot of different reasons. For example in the US in the context of US Immigration it is considered what is called Fraud and Misrepresentation which is a Legal Ground of Inadmissibility to the United States.

In the past I think that the practice of falsifying documentation might have been a lot more prevalent than even the day before this arrest occurred. I think moving forward it is probably never going to be seen again because of the ramifications which sort of flow from it. 

But that being said, I think in the past it did happen, I won't say frequently, but it happened. Why? Well one of the major reasons was the different offices, for example Revenue Department and Immigration, didn't coordinate really and especially in the era prior to digitization and computerization, there really wasn't any real ability to do that. I mean certified copies or what appeared to be certified copies of various documents was about the best that the immigration agents could do in that due diligence capacity. That has changed. The digitization of documentation, the ability to almost instantaneously share documentation amongst various different government agents and agencies creates a situation where forging documents frankly is pretty darn risky. It is also illegal but it is also almost foolhardy; it is foolhardy frankly at this point. It is very likely that you are going to get caught and as a result you're going to get arrested and in the case of the foreigners involved I am assuming they are going to get deported. 

Now what does this mean for everyone else? Well like with everything a few bad apples kind of spoils the whole bunch. Those who do have legitimate visa applications I think it is safe to say that you are looking at heightened scrutiny. I think you are looking at more inspections. I think you are looking at possible requests for further documentation associated with submitted documentation in order to absolutely prove the veracity of the underlying document. Now how exactly all this exactly is going to play out remains to be seen but I want to be clear. This in my opinion is a watershed moment in Thai Immigration history. I think that when folks look back 10 years from now, this is going to be the moment they say "yes it really radically changed after that. In terms of scrutiny, inspections, enforcement.” Yes we had the Outlaw Foreigner stuff prior to this. That was certainly the case but that stuff mostly pertained to over stayers and folks who allegedly bad actors throughout the community. This is focusing on extensions of Visa status in the Kingdom and at least is focusing extensively on those who are trying to go through the process legitimately.

As I mention again, forgery of documents is never a good idea. It is not a practice we have ever undertaken but what is kind of unfortunate in all of this is that these document forgers or alleged document forgers may impact everyone in the sense that we may see an overall more difficult process to deal with moving forward.