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Where Do I Apply For a Thai Visa?

Transcript of the above video:

 In this video, we're going to discuss Thai visas. We've done quite a few of these videos to date and it's rather interesting coming from a person who's in my position. I deal with some of the more details or let's say non-straightforward aspects of various legal problems. And so, some of the more simple questions are oftentimes posed by people that aren't me basically, that are folks that, you know, are just looking for genuine answers. But it seems sort of deceptively simple, that no one would have thought of making or I should say, that I didn't think of making this video. But a really poignant and good question is where do I apply for a Thai visa? And the answer to that is well, that's going to depend.

First thing to note yes, when it comes to visas overseas, one's probably going to be applying at a Thai embassy or consulate abroad or perhaps a Thai honorary consulate abroad. Each of these embassies and consulates are going to have slightly varying guidelines with respect to visa issuance and fundamentally, each and every consulate or embassy is going to have a pretty wide amount of discretionary latitude with respect to ultimate issuance of travel documents to the Kingdom of Thailand. So visas say, business visas, education visas, O visas, retirement visas, or just tourist visas issued in an embassy or consulate outside of the Kingdom, there are going to be different guidelines for issuance of each of those depending on the country from whence one is traveling from. So for example the United States, the various embassies and consulates that are in that jurisdiction may have slightly different visa protocols than say, the United Kingdom or Canada notwithstanding that they’re all three English-speaking nations and one would think maybe the procedures would be similar.

In my experience, there’s is always just a little bit of variance, different posts have sort of different shall we say prerogatives with respect to ultimate issuance. So it's going to vary a little bit sort of worldwide. Another thing to think about with respect to embassies and consulates abroad, it's going to be that it's been my experience that regionally, those embassies and they are primarily embassies which are located closer to Thailand. So say, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, they're going to have rather more stringent operational procedures with respect to Thai visas as “visa runs” to these countries are relatively easier and oftentimes visa runs to these countries are going to be utilized by those who are going to be wanting to maintain long-term status in Thailand. And I think the prerogative of the Ministry for Affairs with respect to the region is it's pretty safe to be a little bit more stringent on those individuals because of being worried that those individuals are living in Thailand without proper status or without a proper underlying reason for doing so.

So it's been my experience that sort of the closer you get regionally to the Kingdom here, the more difficult visa - difficult is not the right word; the more stringent scrutiny is going to be applied to applications closer to this area, closer to this country. That being said, as has been noted in other videos on this channel, overall immigration across the board has been getting progressively more tightened when it comes to regulatory enforcement and scrutinization during the adjudication of visas in these applications I should say. So it should be noted that, you know, general things are getting tighter as far as processing in a foreign affairs context. So say the embassies and the consulates abroad are going to be doing things a little bit more tightly than they've done in past days.

On the other side of the coin with respect to applying for a visa, there's visa extensions and there's also visa conversions and these can occur in Thailand at various points in the Kingdom. So for example, certain countries have to get what's called a visa on arrival when arriving in Thailand. These visas are generally issued at the airport upon arrival at either say Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi, Phuket or any of the other various international terminals here in Thailand, Chiang Mai notably although there's going to be less traffic up there internationally but there is some.

Basically, visas on arrival are exactly what their name implies. They are literally a visa which is issued on arrival in the Kingdom. Another thing to think about is those arriving in visa exemption status so for example, 30 days stamps yes, those are issued at the airport upon arrival. It should be noted that under certain circumstances, it's possible to extend those exemptions by another 30 days in the Kingdom. Other things like tourist visas can sometimes be extended in the Kingdom and more to the point and more often when we're talking about extensions, we're talking business visas, marriage visas, education visas or retirement visas. So those who have entered the kingdom on a visa issued by an embassy or consulate abroad, are probably going to be issued a 90 day let's say business visa and they're going to want to go ahead and extend that visa pursuant to their work authorization here at the Kingdom. Under those circumstances is possible to go ahead and do that.

It should be noted that a visa extension is a pretty drawn-out process. It requires a great deal of documentation and it's going to be pretty heavily scrutinized by immigration officers here Kingdom. Setting all that aside that's discussed pretty well at length in other videos on this on this channel. I think it's something to think about is one’s province of residents is going to determine the location in which an extension is going to be sought. So for example here in Bangkok, Immigration Division 1, we constantly have to deal with what's called Chang Watana immigration office and Chaeng Watthana is where we have to go to get our extensions taken care of. In the past it was Suan Phlu. That's changed these past eight to nine years.

Another thing to think about, well if one is in a different province like Phuket you're going to deal with the immigration office in Phuket. Pattaya one's going to deal with the immigration office in Chonburi. Someone who's up in Chiang Mai is going to deal with the immigration office in Chiang Mai and much sort of on the other side of the looking glass as it were, each of these provincial offices have slightly varying degrees of differentiation with respect to how they process extensions of various visas. So a document that may be considered supremely important in one province maybe not given quite as much weight in another province.

And another thing to think of is officer discretion in individual cases can determine differentiation with respect to how the cases ultimately process. So again at any point in this, one needs to keep in mind that you know different places are going to process visa slightly differently and that goes the same for embassies and consulates abroad as well as immigration offices here in Kingdom.