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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhy Can Some Use the One-Stop Immigration Center and Others Can’t?

Why Can Some Use the One-Stop Immigration Center and Others Can’t?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today as the title suggests, we are going to be discussing the One-Stop Immigration Service Center, specifically the reason why some people are allowed to use it and other people are not allowed to use it.

The One-Stop Service Center is a significant benefit to those who are operating here in the Kingdom.  As anyone who has ever processed a B visa extension or work permit or work permit extension can probably tell you, dealing with Immigration can be a little bit trying. The lines are relatively long down at the Chaeng Wattana Immigration Office here right inside Bangkok city limits. There are a lot of people seeking visa approval or seeking visa benefits; there is a lot of people down there and in the B visa unit specifically, there are generally a number of applicants every day, on a daily basis.

So, why is there sort of these two systems? Why do we have the regular system and we have the One-Stop System? Well, it is to incentivize greater investment in the Kingdom. It is to incentivize larger enterprises in the Kingdom. There are a number of reasons. But basically, who is eligible for One- Stop? Generally speaking, large cap companies, so companies with over 20 million baht in registered capital, even if they don’t have BOI are generally going to be able to utilize the functions at the One-Stop Service Center.  Meanwhile BOI promoted companies even if they don’t have a large registered capital such as 20 million baht, if they meet certain requirements from BOI such as technological exchange or they are bringing in a type of service that Thailand wishes to encourage within the economy, they may receive BOI certification and once BOI certification is issued, part of that certification may include usage of the One-Stop Service Center. This can be an incredible boon because the One-Stop Service center is quite literally what its name implies. You deal with your Immigration and Labour matters in one place.  Also, you are not dealing with a huge throng of people when going through the lines dealing with Immigration. It is a relatively straightforward process. It usually takes a couple of hours at One-Stop to go ahead and get everything sorted out provided all documentation is provided whereas Thai Immigration and this is not a critique of Chaeng Wattana or the Business Visa Unit down there, but quite frankly they have a lot of case loads and they are mostly dealing with smaller enterprises.  Quite frankly I think that one of the big concerns amongst Thai Immigration Officials down there is that these enterprises are genuine, that the applicants are not basically just trying to use subterfuge to remain in the Kingdom without a valid reason for doing so and I think that moving forward, and I have seen in the past, Immigration Officers down there heavily scrutinize the applications associated with the B visa status. They do scrutinize those same applications at One-Stop but you are dealing with a different level of business and you are dealing with much more foreign investment being brought into the Kingdom generally speaking or you are dealing with technological exchange that the Thai “powers that be” if you will, want encouraged within the economy so for that reason, there is this differentiation.

So those who would be critical of this system, I would say that although some criticism is probably warranted, I would also say on the other side of the coin, having dealt with US Immigration matters over the past years, I can say there is some differentiation within our sort of for lack of a better word, Business Visa Unit going to the United States. What are we talking about here?  Well there is a marked difference between EB-5 benefits versus E-2 benefits. An investor that usually tends to get an E-2 visa, that individual generally has to show a lower threshold of minimum investment into the United States. They are going to be more heavily scrutinized with respect to how that investment works. There is not going to be a sort of a preset program that generally tends to exist in EB-5 matters although one does not generally need to use some of these EB-5 programs in order to seek EB-5 benefits. But that being said, the E-2 is more difficult to deal with. One generally has to come back in shorter intervals back to Thailand if they are seeking an E-2 out of Thailand in order to reprocess a new visa. These matters don’t come up with the EB-5 because once granted, the EB-5 provides lawful permanent residence in the United States.  Now again the EB-5 requires a larger threshold of investment into the United States in order to be granted benefits so while I would say that the systems are not totally parallel in their details of operation, I think that some parallels can be drawn between say the US Immigration system and the Thai Immigration system insofar as you have these two sort of tracks when you are dealing with the Business Visa Units related to how big the underlying business enterprise is. What it is doing in the country?  Is it bringing in a number of jobs? Is it bringing in a kind of technology that has as yet not been in particular wide usage or wide understanding within the Kingdom? These are economic things, these are economic factors that again the establishment here wants to go ahead and encourage and in doing so, they incentivize those who would come in from abroad and invest and do business here through use of mechanisms such as the One-Stop Service Center that they may not otherwise incentivize in SMEs or small sort of “one man band” kind of operations where it is generally a one foreigner operation and they have  four, five or six Thais working for them; a relatively small SME. It is simply just not going to be as incentivized.  They want to see more economic activity brought to the Kingdom, more technological exchange brought to the Kingdom and in doing so they are going to incentivize that activity by providing benefits such as the One-Stop Service Center.