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Legal Reasons for Immigration Officers Denying Entry to Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title to this video suggests we are basically discussing Thai Immigration, as we do a lot on this channel,  and one question I get a lot from clients or prospective clients or just people contacting us with questions is, "What is the legal basis upon which Thai immigration can deny my entry to the country?" Well I'll tell you.

The Thai Immigration Act of BE (Buddhist era) 2522 which is 1979 on the western calendar, section 16.  Now I am translating and rather paraphrasing this section so those who are watching this should not take this as the "end-all-be-all” when it comes to letter of the law or how it will be enforced or how it will be interpreted. This is simply here for informational purposes only to provide a conceptual idea of how the immigration laws operate here in Thailand. But under section 16 of the ACT, in instances where for reasons of national welfare or safety, culture, public peace and order, morality or welfare or when a Minister considers it improper to allow any alien or any group of aliens to enter the Kingdom, the Minister shall have the power to exclude said alien or aliens from entry to the Kingdom". So let's be clear on what this is. In an American legal context, the public healthy health and safety grounds, are kind of a fallback position, they are always there when you are dealing with things like immigration, Customs Enforcement, various aspects of health-related regulatory agencies. That is always the fallback position. They have a certain discretion associated with public welfare, Public Safety. The Immigration Act is no different. It empowers the minister  and he can thereby deputize those underneath him, the Minister of Interior, and thereby deputize those underneath him for example the Immigration Police to exclude people from the Kingdom in their sole discretion and within their sole discretion they are basically saying "Look, we feel that this person could be a danger to Public Health, morality, and culture; very difficult to have any hard-and-fast rules with respect to that. I really liken this to a notion under American law, there is a Doctrine called the doctrine of Consular absolutism or the Doctrine of Consular Non-Reviewability and under those contexts, basically a State Department official, a Consular Officer adjudicating the visa application, their factual findings are not subject to review. Very similar to Immigration Officers, very similar to US Customs and Border Protection Officers, Thai immigration officials have the ability to say basically “look I sized the individual and they were requesting permission at Port of Entry. I felt that they were not in my discretion, I felt that they posed some sort of problem, they posed some sort of risk to public health and safety and I excluded them and denied their admission to the Kingdom.” They can do this notwithstanding issuance of a prior Visa. This is really in my opinion the bedrock section upon which immigration's discretion lays if you will. They have their discretion and it is derived from this section of the Act so in the future, those who are interested in knowing legal reasons for this they need only look at the Immigration Act of Thailand and see where this stems from understand that Thai Immigration officers basically can deny pretty much anybody that is not a Thai National entry to the Kingdom for grounds that they deem, again it is it within the framework of this statute but their factual findings are really not subject to review.