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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawIs Thai Immigration's Discretion "Expanding" or "Contracting"?

Is Thai Immigration's Discretion "Expanding" or "Contracting"?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Immigration discretion and whether or not it is sort of "expanding" or "contracting" at this point. I have had a lot of people asking me about this. As a lot of people know since going back to March 2020 where we have seen all this sort of everything kind of upended in terms of how we live our lives in just dealing with Immigration, dealing with Visa matters, everything just kind of went topsy-turvy in the past two and a half years roughly. I have had a lot of people ask me "Well okay things are kind of normalizing. Does that mean internal Immigration, Immigration here in Thailand, does that mean they are going to become easier to deal with? Harder to deal with? Are we looking at a sort of a return to what we were dealing with it going into the first quarter of 2020?" which was a pretty stringent Immigration system quite frankly. I mean they were taking much more of an enforcement approach with respect to Immigration Policy and we saw a great deal of consternation especially in the Expat community; tightening up of rules regarding Retirement Visas which we are actually seeing right now again; other issues associated with things such as going after people for working illegally; not allowing conversions of Visa status, that is probably the biggest one. Prior to this March 2020 issue where we saw the pandemic and then all the response to that and all the lockdowns and the country shut down, you couldn't get in and out easily, yeah Immigration had expanded discretion to allow people to change from One Visa category to another etc., or extend status just based on extenuating circumstances. Now extending status based on extenuating circumstances I think we are probably going to see that fall by the wayside but conversion in country is an interesting one. 

For those who are unaware, we have discussed this many times in other videos, but the presumption in Non-Immigrant status is that one is not living in Thailand. Therefore, if one wishes to change status, they need to leave the country, get a new Visa and come back in. So if you want to go from Business Visa status to Retirement status, the general presumption in the past was okay you need to leave, get a Retirement Visa come back in. Now it has been let’s say more straightforward to deal with a version over the past couple of years because of the expanded discretion of Immigration given the circumstances. With that need ending and especially presumably with the Emergency Decree coming to an end in October of 2022, will that same discretion remain? I don't know the answer to that question. That said, if you are in a temporary status and you want to be in a more permanent status now would be the time to do it I think because as we not only go past October with presumably the end of the Emergency Decree and then we get into 2023, I think it's likely that we will probably see less and less use of favourable discretion to keep people in Thailand as time goes forward and that sort of policy of "hey you need to leave and get a new Visa", I think that is going to become more resurgent. Now that said, I could be wrong but based on past experience that seems like the way that this will probably play out.