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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawThai Visa Issuance Does Not Guarantee Entry to Thailand

Thai Visa Issuance Does Not Guarantee Entry to Thailand

See transcript of the above video below:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Visas, the issuance thereof and entry at an Immigration checkpoint here in the Kingdom.

The reason I bring this up is I find, and this is especially the case here in recent years, there is first of all a presumption on the part of many foreign nationals that issuance of a visa guarantees entry to the Kingdom. That could not really be further from the truth, in point of fact.

As a practical matter, those who do have a Visa issued from a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad tend to be able to go ahead and enter the Kingdom in a fairly straightforward manner upon presenting themselves at an Immigration checkpoint.  But strictly speaking, this is also the case for jurisdictions around the world, a Visa is simply an ability to get on some form of transportation and be conveyed to a Port of Entry of a given country to request entry. It is not in and of itself a guarantee of entry and I bring this up because there seems to be real misnomer out there. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions with this issue.  People think, especially in a Thai context, "Oh, I was issued a visa abroad. That should essentially allow me entry into the Kingdom." And there was a recent editorial that I read in the Nation, nationmultimedia.com, the title of the editorial, “Suvarnabhumi Immigration Bullying is a Tourism Killer” and I'm not going to get into the whole article. Those who are watching this video can check it out. There's quite a bit on this and it doesn't really speak to exactly what I'm talking about in this video. This is just one man's opinion having gone through a recent crossing through an Immigration border checkpoint but there was something interesting in the article that I thought was worth noting. Quoting directly, "I gently suggested he might be wrong as I had been at the Embassy only a few days before and if I had been over using a tourist visa, surely they would have told me."  Well I would say that's really kind of a misconception. That’s not exactly what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does and those are the folks that go ahead and issue a Visa. They have a different mandate when you are comparing their mandate to the mandate of Immigration Officers at a checkpoint here in the Kingdom.  What I mean to say is, a Thai Embassy or Consulate basically needs to adjudicate an application for a Thai Visa, be it a tourist visa, a business Visa, an O visa, an ED visa; whatever. Their job is to adjudicate the application for the Visa. It's not really part of their mandate to look back on that individual person’s immigration history and see whether or not they should be admitted to the Kingdom. They simply need to look at whether or not the individual is basically viable or if an application is clearly approvable for that particular visa category and if it is clearly approvable, they go ahead and approve it.  They take the filing fee, they process the paperwork and they issue a Visa.  Because again a visa is simply the privilege of being able to travel to a Port of Entry and request entry in the particular status that is in the Visa, so in this case as this fellow mentioned, a tourist visa. Now just because the Thai Embassy issues the visa, this does not mean Thai immigration needs to then go ahead and sort of, as their counterpart, automatically allow entry. In fact that is actually quite not the case at all. The Immigration Officers job is to them at that point to adjudicate that particular person requesting entry to the Kingdom, have a look at their travel history to the Kingdom and adjudicate to see whether or not they should in fact be admitted.

I can understand how viewers would say this is kind of a semantic point but it also isn't. These are two different functions. One of them is the function of essentially issuing a travel document to allow someone to go to an Immigration checkpoint. Meanwhile the Immigration Officer's job is to adjudicate the proposed entrant.  It is a different function, sort of in almost a plenary sense it's a very different function.

The thing I want folks to take away from this video, I'm not really calling out the writer of that particular editorial. I think he made some rather salient points about a few different things but that being said it really is a major misconception that simply being issued a visa by Thai Embassy or Consulate means that entry to the Kingdom of Thailand is guaranteed; that's not the case at all. Immigration is still going to go ahead and scrutinize everybody that's passing through their Immigration checkpoint basically in an effort to go ahead and ascertain whether or not that person should be admitted and just because you are issued a tourist visa, if it's your 4th tourist visa for a given calendar year it doesn't necessarily stand to reason that an Immigration Officer will just  automatically allow them entry to the Kingdom of Thailand as there is a good argument that that individual or individuals are not utilizing that type of travel document for temporary purposes here in the Kingdom.