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Information Regarding Thai Immigration, Visa, and Deportation Issues

Transcript of the above video:

Every couple of weeks, I'd like to do just sort of a roundup of everything I've been sort of seeing with respect to Thai visas and immigration and this video is sort of a culmination of all of that information.

So recently, it came to my attention over the forums and the name of the forum posting, the thread I guess, is “Entry denied Bangkok airport.” I found this posted at 10 a.m. on the 12th of July and I'm just quoting directly from the original poster. “I'm in the deportation room, was wondering how and where to appeal against my deportation. My entry was denied at Suvarnabhumi, that's the main airport here in Bangkok and noting too many tourist visas in the past. I hold necessary paper with me on the flight to Europe, tourist visa booking confirmation, certain amount of cash. How long can the appeal process take and are there some people that done it before?”

Well, let's just sort of talk about this sort of generally. This is happening more and more. People who have stayed significant lengths of time in prior instances on tourist visas are being heavily scrutinized and clearly from this poster, some of their entry is being denied. There is an appeal process which one can undertake. There's even a form associated with it however, it is probably logical to assume that while undertaking the appeal process, one could be being detained and it usually takes about seven days to get that appeal process fully stashed out.

So those who have been in here in Thailand on tourist visas for significant periods of time should be aware of this and should probably think about maybe changing to a different visa status especially if the tourist visa is not specifically, is not really the visa that covers one's frame of activity here in the Kingdom. It's interesting to note that again within this posting, apparently the officers noted section 12.3 of immigration regulations. 12.3 basically means that they presume that the individual is using a tourist visa in order to work here in the Kingdom. This is very, very similar to a finding of admissibility in the United States as an immigrant not properly documented which is a finding the US Customs and Border Protection officers will often find with respect to those trying to enter U.S. on a tourist visa.

And interestingly enough and very analogous to this situation, it often happens to those who have been coming into the United States and spending a significant amount of time in the United States in tourist visa status. These officers make the determination that they do not in fact believe that the individual intends to be a tourist but instead is utilizing the visa in order to live and work in the country concerned and as a result of that, they're going to deny that entry because they don't feel that the tourist visa reflects the actual intention of the underlying individual. This is also interesting to note because it brings up another key point that people often forget with respect to visas and immigration and that is this - simply having an issued visa does not guarantee entry to the country concerned. With respect to Thailand, merely having a Thai visa does not necessarily mean one is going to be admitted. Those immigration officers that one needs say at the airport when coming in, they are the final arbiters of allowing admission and if they determine that an individual doesn't actually meet the criteria for the visa that they might even have, they can turn them around. And as I said, this happens a lot of United States and clearly the Thais perhaps are taking a page out of U.S. immigrations playbook.

Which brings me to the next thing that I kind of wanted to discuss in this sort of Thailand visa and immigration roundup. This comes from the Bangkok Post. It's an article from the 10th of July 2017, the article is entitled “Master of technology guards the gates” and they're actually discussing specifically the current head of Thai immigration, the current head officer of Thai Immigration here and his name is Police Lieutenant General Natatorn. And it's interesting to quote this directly, “Here in a master's degree in science with a focus on computer technology from Chulalongkorn University, he went abroad into a master's degree in public administration and Kentucky State University (that's in the United States if anybody who doesn't know). He went on to earn two more master's degrees in Chulalongkorn University including study in the field of the arts including Thai and English translations. He further earned a doctorate degree in political science from Chulalongkorn University. And finally got bachelor's degree in law from Ramkhamhaeng University.”

Now as someone who has a law degree myself and it's been about seven years in school, I'm here to tell you this guy got a lot of degrees and he's spent a lot of time earning those degrees. To further quote and quoting the Lieutenant General himself, he says in this article “my target is ‘good guys in and bad guys out.’ Further quoting him, “we have so many suspects that we feel the arrest we made it quite historic.” To quote the article, to quote him “cleared out of Thai society as soon as possible” he insisted.

So why do I bring up this article? Well first of all, the notion that immigration authorities are somehow lacking in any kind of capacity to understand the real world or any kind of capacity to make very specific administrative decisions is foolhardy. This gentleman who is in charge, the general in charge of immigration is clearly a very, very inquisitive person. He clearly has a goal and I think ‘good guys in, bad guys out’ pretty well sums it up. But it also should be noted that I think he's taking many pages from the playbooks of other immigration authorities outside of Thailand and creating an immigration infrastructure and system that is more in tune with 21st century. Furthermore and I have to sort of note my own sort of confusion as to where this comes from, but furthermore it we're that the policy of immigration authorities is to keep people from using tourist visas and temporary status to live in the Kingdom.

That clearly is something that's going to be a thing of the past. I think it's fairly logical to assume that we're going to see less or I should say we're going to see more and more folks being detained with multiple tourist visas because it’s clear to the immigration officer that that is not in fact what their status is. It looks to me like this gentleman having studied in the United States and clearly being able to understand the U.S. immigration apparatus may have taken a play directly out of the playbook of U.S. Customs and Border Protection as it's begun implementing policies that reflect very closely and very similarly the mindset of U.S. Customs and Border Protection with respect to those using tourist visas to live and work illegally in the United States. Only they're using that same framework over here in Thailand. Something to keep in mind.

Finally another thing to note with respect to the head of current immigration. To quote directly from the Sun Daily and this is from the this is a Malaysian publication, this was an article posted 12th July 2017. RM2 T-money practice at Thai immigration booths stopped. RM refers to the Malaysian Ringgit so two Ringgit T-money practice at Thai immigration booths stopped. To quote directly from the article, “the immigration police chief of Thailand has put a stop on the practice of taking two Ringgit T-money at the Sadao border crossing during office hours.” To quote further, “it was said to be a 20-year practice at the Sadao Thai-Malaysian border crossing.” To quote even further, “it’s noting the payment was valid if visitors arrived outside official work hours in between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. The Interior Ministry set the rate to pay for the overtime of officers during such hours.”

What are we talking about here? Well what we're talking about is the head of Thai Immigration has basically canceled the practice lasted for about two decades down along the southern border. The practice stemmed from a very pragmatic need and that was people needed to cross the border at odd hours down there at that particular border crossing and if that was being done in an off hour so between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., then it was determined that those immigration officers who had to do that, who had to assist in the admission or the departure process needed to essentially be paid overtime. And what could be described as extra duty pay, there is an extra duty fee of two Ringgit or about 20 Baht that was being paid as “T-money” but really it's an extra duty fee. These officers, this isn't part of their job description to work during those hours so if an individual wanted to cross in around the country at that time or during that window, then you know sort of extra consideration needs to be made. Well apparently, this practice sort of spread into the otherwise normal operating hours and has been going on for years. The current head of Thai Immigration has put a stop to that.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, I bring it all up because it shows a clear overarching attitude and overarching policy toward Thai immigration and that is it's serious and they're implementing not only practical and rather logical policies but they're getting tough on immigration. That's basically what we're seeing here. And immigration officers are being, even if the lowest of levels are now being required to comport themselves in such a way that reflects the seriousness of the job at hand. And look, what's clear from all of this and what should be taken away from the viewer this video is Thai immigration is not something to be trifled with and people are ignorant of the immigration rules here and are and dismiss them out of hand at their own peril.