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Thai Immigration: Different Offices, Different Rules?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Immigration yet again.

People ask me this a lot. It comes up a lot in cases and on top of that you see a lot in forums and things to the point where it is almost cliché. 

So what am I talking about? Well the title suggests it. Why does it seem like different officers or different offices often seem to have different rules with respect to Thai Immigration? Well there are Ministerial Regulations associated with the law. So the law gets passed. For example the Immigration Act of 1979, and then there are Regulations that are passed in order to enforce or administer that law and it is this sort of administrative function that results in what can be described as interpretational differences between Officers and Offices. The thing to take away from this especially those who come from a Common law perspective, the United States, United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, Anglo sphere if you will or even Europe which has sort of the Civil Law system but has adopted certain Common Law practices for lack of a better term, the system in Thailand can seem somewhat patchwork if you will especially with respect to Immigration. The thing to keep in mind is Thai Officers are given a certain level of interpretational and fact-finding discretion that we oftentimes don't necessarily see in the West. Now with that in mind it should be noted that for example the United States Immigration, Consular Officers at a US Embassy or US Consulates abroad are granted wide discretion with respect to fact finding as noted in videos on this channel regarding the Doctrine of Consular Absolutism or the Doctrine of Consular Non-reviewability. So this is not exclusive to Thailand. This is not some Thai thing. It is pretty common throughout Immigration apparatus throughout the world.  There is a certain level of discretion granted to the officers especially adjudicating officers at border crossings because they are the "man on the ground", the "boots-on-the-ground" if you will who are having a deal with the problem as it is occurring. Their level of discretion is quite high and for this reason "yes, you do see different outcomes depending on the different offices throughout the Kingdom of Thailand." 

Another thing that I find interesting is and I am not sure if there is a causation here or simply a correlation between the Legal system and the Immigration system but I think it is interesting from the standpoint of paradigm the way the Thai Officers are thinking.  It is noteworthy the way the legal system operates in Thailand compared to the common law system because in Thailand the usage of precedent is not so prevalent in the Thai legal system so under the common law which utilizes stare decisis, or precedent, so prior decisions and prior cases can be compelling in future cases, the Thai legal system does not use that methodology at least to the same extent as the American or UK legal system. I think some of this thinking, this sort of paradigm, we can see it in the Immigration System where at first glance it seems like there is less uniformity in the way that rules are applied. I would urge folks to look at it more from the standpoint that they take things more on a case-by-case basis so they try to tailor their decisions to fit the facts that they are given in a specific case. They try their best to make things work as well as they can based on the specifics of a given case rather than trying to use a rule and then apply it micro. They sort of apply the rule based on the facts that are before them.

So the thing to take away from this video is, "yes, it does appear that things differ for example from Province to Province, or Immigration Office to Immigration Office, but there is a certain interpretational latitude as well as factual discretion that is granted to Immigration Officers in Thailand and for this reason you sometimes see a variance in how decisions are made.