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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhy Does Getting a Thai Visa Seem So Difficult?

Why Does Getting a Thai Visa Seem So Difficult?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title to this video suggests, we are going to be discussing Thai visa issues. An often asked question is "Why does Getting a Thai Visa Seem so Hard?  Why does it seem so Difficult?" Originally I was thinking of titling this video “why are Thai Immigration issues, do they seem so difficult?” But I decided to say Thai Visa mostly because it is a little bit more concise and to the point. But I will say that having dealt with the Immigration system myself for years, notwithstanding the fact that I am now a Thai National, I do have sympathy for those who are going through the process. 

One of the things I find interesting is, there is another video on this channel where we were discussing, the Joint Chambers of Commerce put out a sort of primer on issues doing business here in the Kingdom and one of the things they noted was that Immigration could be one of the more difficult aspects of dealing with living here and I think the word used was "irritating". Just in a general context or just generally speaking, Immigration is always "irritating". I deal with US Immigration matters frequently. They have a different nuance to them than dealing with Thai immigration but overall in many ways it is similarly exasperating if not exactly the same way and I think the underlying reason for this is, it is dealing with people. You are dealing with your status in the country, you are dealing with the ability to remain somewhere or the legal ability to go somewhere and that can be a rather stressful thing to be adjudicating or rather stressful thing to have adjudicated. So just to start off, a general pontification as to the overall posture of one who is seeking immigration benefits, it is not a place that you particularly want to be. It is frustrating at times and I don't think irritating is too bad of a word. You basically have got people scrutinizing you as a person as to whether or not you should be A) allowed into a jurisdiction or permitted to stay.

Interesting and to this point, there was a recent article I read on, the title of this was "Reality Versus the Dream for Expats in Thailand” posted 11 April at 6 p.m., I am not going to quote the whole thing but an interesting excerpt: “Perhaps the word the worst hard truth is Thailand's immigration system with its various options not quite fitting in with the expat's needs whether you are working, retiring or studying. According to Expat forums, the system has its rules interpreted differently in every provincial administration office as well as changing on a regular basis”. I would take a little bit of issue with that assessment. Now in the context of that article, understand that throughout the rest of the article and I urge viewers to read the article, they go into how great Thailand is, how it is very easy to live here; and it is. It can be very cost-effective to live here, eating can be rather cheap, it can be fun, it's warm all the time, it is very nice to live in Thailand;  of that that is no doubt. But for expats, one of the really frustrating things is to live here is that you have to deal with the immigration apparatus. There are ways of maybe prolonging the periods of time where you don't have to deal with the immigration apparatus most notably things like the Elite Card. We have a video on the Elite Cards and all the different programs throughout this channel. Also things like the 4- year Smart Visa is now an option where you don't really have to deal with visa extension except for every 4-year intervals. 1-year Visa extensions, in certain very limited circumstances there are 2- year Visa extensions available. But the long and the short of it is that's not too far off in the sense of like visas that are meant to meet expats’ needs. Quite frankly, the Visa apparatus in my opinion doesn't particularly look at expats' needs, they are looking at the interests of Thailand and in their interests, things like the Smart Visa were created to bring in folks with technical expertise or who are investing in large enterprises here in the Kingdom, that are going to provide technical skills and technical jobs. In those circumstances they are going to make things easier for people to come in and live if they're part of an enterprise such as that. But simply taking the presumption that Thailand should somehow make things easier, I think it's somewhat wrongheaded and I don't mean it from the standpoint of trying to distain expats, I take it from the standpoint that it is a bad frame of mind to have if you're going to try to deal with the system here because fundamentally when dealing with the Immigration system you need to understand that it is not there to please you; in a way you are there to please it. It is not the most positive place to be, it is not the most positive thing to have to deal with. I understand that. Again I dealt with it for a decade; a little bit more than a decade. That being said, it is what it is. You can complain all you want about for example the US immigration system and there are issues within that system to complain about, but fundamentally at the end of the day, what good is it going to do you and moreover it is not going to change because you don't like it.

So the thing to take away from this video is, why is it so difficult? Well first of I think its difficulty is a relative notion. I was reading the other day that Saudi Arabia just created Tourist Visas. They just never had tourist visas before. It just wasn't part of the immigration apparatus. Okay, neat! That was just the way that they had set up their system. Thailand does have a very open and easy system to use frankly for tourists but for those who want to live here, yes they do put on in some cases some rather onerous burdens with respect to the threshold one has to meet and the documentary requirements that have to be met in order for long-term visas to be issued. Is it good or bad? That is not really the point of this video. In fact I would say it is not particularly bad, it is just the way the Thais do things. That being said, understanding how the system works and understanding what you can do to sort of beef up your particular attributes when applying is not a bad idea to know how the apparatus thinks, how it operates and what it is looking for because as I said it is simply wrong-headed to just call the system bad and to just be upset about it.