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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawDoes A Visa Provide Guaranteed Entry to Thailand?

Does A Visa Provide Guaranteed Entry to Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing whether or not a Thai Visa actually guarantees one access to the Kingdom, and the short answer to that question is "NO”; it seems a bit counter-intuitive so I will break this down real quick.

Basically if one goes ahead and gets a Visa, say it's a business visa, an O marriage visa, an O retirement Visa, Thai education Visa or just a simple tourist visa at an Embassy or Consulate abroad, does that guarantee that that individual can enter the Kingdom? Well it doesn't. Thai Immigration Authorities, pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Act in 1979, have broad discretion with respect to actually allowing folks to enter the Kingdom with or without a visa; whether or not they have a visa. There are certain nationalities, they are accorded what is called Visa exemption status so they can enter the Kingdom without actually having a Visa and be provided lawful status in an exempt capacity.  So for example, an American citizen entering on a US passport, having never been to Thailand before, unless there is some major issue that the Immigration Officer utilizes their discretion on, you are probably going to see that individual issued a 30-day stamp immediately upon arrival. However it is not a foregone conclusion that that can happen and in fact Immigration Officers have a substantial discretion to not allow an individual to enter pursuant to various sections of the Immigration Act, most notably section 16 which basically sort of allows a lot of discretion with respect to sort of public welfare, morality, culture etc. I won't say it is vague, it is actually rather detailed but it is broad, it is very broad. I would put it that way, the powers that Immigration Officers have.

So the thing to take away from this video is, just because one has been issued a visa does not guarantee that they are going to be allowed entry into the Kingdom. I have seen this in the context, rather frequently, of those who are coming in on multiple exemption stamps or even, and this one can be rather frustrating to individuals because they actually will have gone and gotten a tourist visa, back in about 2014, Thai Immigration Authorities at the border between Malaysia and Thailand were fairly routinely turning away those coming in on tourist visas because they didn't have any evidence of financial ability to be on vacation in the Kingdom; in most cases they were suspected of working illegally in the Kingdom and those individuals were therefore turned away. The policy being that, "Look a tourist visa is for tourists. We think you are living here therefore we are going to go ahead and deny."

So the thing to take away from this video is “no there is no guaranteed right of access inherent to a Visa. A visa is just basically an invitation to request permission to the Kingdom and the adjudicating officer at the Port of Entry is going to go ahead and make the determination as to whether or not that individual is going to be allowed in here.”