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Heightened Scrutiny on Foreigners With or Without Visas for Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Immigration. Specifically we are discussing heightened scrutiny of foreigners coming into the Kingdom when they are basically entering through an Immigration checkpoint; whether or not they have a visa.

I bring this up because there's been a multitude of anecdotal evidence that we have seen from various clients of the firm, as well as folks outside the firm that I have talked to, who basically have stated a similar sets of circumstances; I have heard  varying degrees of problems being had at Immigration checkpoints.

I would like to be clear.  For the most part, what I think is frankly going on is simple enforcement of laws and policies that were already on the books, that in the past were not enforced as scrupulously, or maybe I should say as zealously, by Immigration Officers  as are being enforced as at the time of this video. As I have said on other videos on this channel, it is my personal opinion that there has been something of a policy paradigm shift within the Immigration, as well as the law enforcement apparatus, here in the Kingdom. Specifically what I am talking about is I think that Immigration, as well as police officers, are very much starting to view immigration violations less as sort of an administrative regulatory sort of issue, for lack of a better term just kind of a matter of bureaucratic fines if you will, and they are starting to really more view it as a species of law enforcement interest as well as in certain cases of species of criminal activity as there are people that frequently overstay their visas, willingly overstay their visas, or enter the Kingdom illegally and for those reasons, again in the past this was sort of viewed as I think kind of an administrative issue, but more and more now this is being viewed as something that warrants a heightened scrutiny almost from a criminal justice standpoint and for this reason I think we've been seeing consternation being had by foreigners coming in to the Kingdom as they are simply not used to a more zealous Immigration apparatus.

Meanwhile that most jurisdictions around the world undertake similar activities as Thai Immigration officers at checkpoints are currently undertaking here in the Kingdom. Frankly nothing that the Thais are doing is particularly out of line for example with what US Customs and Border Protection does at Immigration checkpoints in the United States. In fact they ask very similar questions; matters involving tourist visas into the United States. You can often see people getting scrutinized for you know especially if they have spent a particularly long amount of time within the US on a tourist visa, you know they're going to get scrutinized based on the simple question of "what are you doing here?" The Thais seem to be doing the same thing, especially in the context of Visa exemption stamps, visas on arrival, and tourist visas, as all three of those types of travel documents are explicitly for temporary usage and not to be used by people who are trying to live in the Kingdom. And in most cases where I've seen individuals or groups who have had issues at an Immigration checkpoint, it has often times come part and parcel with those individuals or groups utilizing tourist visas, visas-on-arrival or visa exemptions in order to maintain a prolonged physical presence in the Kingdom.  We are not talking about folks who are using non-immigrant visas, elite card status, things of that nature. Most of the time when I'm hearing this stuff it is involving folks who are using, again tourist visas, visa exemption stamps or visas-on-arrival. 

One thing that I thought was interesting, just to kind of put some nuance on to this, it came from an editorial in the Nation,  The title is, “Suvarnabhumi  Immigration Bullying is a Tourism Killer”, published November 23rd, 2018, and those who are watching this video go ahead and check out this whole editorial if you like. I just wanted to point out one specific part of this as I thought it was very pertinent to the notion of heightened scrutiny at Immigration checkpoints. Quoting directly from this, "I gently suggested he might be wrong as I had been at the embassy only a few days before and if I have been over using a tourist visa surely they would have told me."  So basically this was a set of circumstances were somebody clearly had a tourist visa in the past, had left the Kingdom, obtained a tourist visa from an embassy or consulate abroad and was coming back in and unfortunately, or that might not even be the right word, but unlike times past where basically just having a visa tended be enough to get a person back into the Kingdom, there is heightened scrutiny now with respect to ones or groups proposed activity in the Kingdom what they're going to be doing, are they using these tourist visas to effectively live in the kingdom and if so they need to leave and find another Visa category because that is not the purpose of a tourist visa so it was of interest to me this particular line in this particular editorial and I thought it was worth making a video just  to reiterate, “Yes Immigration officers in Thailand have had a shift in paradigm and Immigration checkpoints and the officers associated therewith are scrutinizing the purpose of one stay and they're especially looking at folks who are utilizing multiple exemptions, visas-on-arrival or tourist visas because you know those folks need to be utilizing those travel documents for temporary purposes and not for use for long-stay here in the Kingdom.