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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsThe Petition to End TM 30 Reporting in Thailand

The Petition to End TM 30 Reporting in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are discussing a recent petition which is making the rounds here in the Kingdom and it is on the lips of many expats these days. It pertains to, as the title of this video suggests, the TM30

Now before we get started I just want to go ahead and provide the website. It is reform-thai-immigration.com. There has been quite a bit of a hub-bub if you will. There has been quite a bit of discussion out there regarding this recent petition. 

In a recent article from the Bangkok post bangkokpost.com, but this actually to the best of my knowledge, I found this in print format. I will go ahead and put that up there. I can't seem to find it online so it appears that this is print only. We will go ahead and throw that up there real quick.  Quoting directly, the headline is:  Foreigners Want TM30 Scrapped. Quoting directly, "A group of foreigners in the northeast have launched a petition calling for the Immigration Bureau to abolish the TM30 form." Again, they cite various things and they note the website. Then in a later article, this is bangkokpost.com. It is an editorial entitled TM30: a Shot in the Foot.  It is quite a long editorial.  I urge those who are watching this to go to that directly. Quoting directly, "Just last week, Acting Immigration Chief Police Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang declared that the TM30 process would continue to be imposed strictly but that it would be done easily online or via an app. Sadly, neither the app nor the website appear to work reliably. Quoting further, "Long-term expats were already having a horrendous year, even before TM30, as regulations were also changed for applications for retirement visas.  In exasperation at the enforcement of TM30, a group of foreigners in the northeast launched a petition on Saturday calling for the requirement to be reviewed."

Now I have read about this petition. People have been asking me about it. Quite frankly there has got to be kind of a cacophony of folks asking me about my opinion on this and to be clear I haven't said anything about it sooner because frankly it doesn't really pertain to me.  I have legal residence in the Kingdom of Thailand and the TM30 pertains to those who are temporarily in the Kingdom.  There are other videos on this channel and there are going to be some videos we are making contemporaneously with this one which goes into exactly how TM30 is applied etc. So one of the reasons I didn't really want to say anything is because it really isn't exactly my place. It doesn't pertain to me. I haven't had to deal with this and in the past when I dealt with Immigration, this wasn't really a requirement because as noted in prior videos and also in this information that I have quoted and in the petition and on the website for the petition itself, it noted that "yes, this has existed for like 40 years but it hasn't been enforced for seemingly nearly all that 40 years."  Nobody that has a memory of the Immigration System that I know of can remember a time when TM30 was enforced to the level it is now. That being said, it has always been on the books, so lack of enforcement you can't bank on that for lack of a better term. There is no detrimental reliance on lack of enforcement. 

What do I think of the petition? Well I think the people that have come up with it, I think their intentions are laudable. I actually think that they are less inclined toward their own self-interest, although everyone is, and frankly more inclined to just seeing a system that overall is efficient and for lack of a better term makes sense, whereas those who are just sort of worried about what they have to file, usually don't go to this level, they don't mount a website; they don't mount a campaign to have this whole thing discussed. I do think there is a general feeling that this is somewhat superfluous and that it could be more efficiently done. I think that is pretty well true. I think the roots of its inefficiency if you will, lie in the statute that created it and also the presumptions about temporary status.  As I get into in other videos, TM30 was designed at a time when it was presumed that Non-immigrants were exactly that. They were not going to stay in temporary status for a particularly long period of time. The presumption being they would either leave after a relatively short period of time or they would become Permanent Residents and PRs do not need to deal with TM30 because they have a different regime wherein they have to report. So I think part of the reason for its inefficiency is when it was designed, the presumption was a person might be in Thailand on a temporary visa, a Non-immigrant Visa which is a temporary visa, its very label has its temporariness embedded in it, ie. "Non-immigrant".  The presumption when that scheme was created, when the TM30 came about, was that someone in a Non-immigrant B Visa would spend a year or two and that would it. They would need to leave or they would spend their three years, three to five years, something like this, become a PR and then it wouldn't be an issue anymore. I don't think anyone particularly foresaw something wherein you would have a lot of non-immigrants you know staying in non-immigrant status for years and maybe even decades so some of it has to do with a bit of a disconnect between the intentions at the time this was created and the situation on the ground now. 

Again, I think the folks that have mounted this campaign, I think that their intentions are laudable. I think that they are looking for a more efficient system by which to deal with matters pertaining to reporting of foreigners in the Kingdom. Now a wiser man than myself once said and a colleague for that matter, when I was dealing with a rather difficult US Immigration case, once told me, and we were talking about this in that context of the United States, "the two groups of people that don't have constituencies are prisoners and immigrants" and that was said because they can't vote. So in that case, how much is really going to happen at the behest of a constituency that can't exactly vote. It remains to be seen and in Thailand I might and under these circumstances I might caveat that or add to that saying with, "folks that don't have constituencies are immigrants, prisoners and non-immigrants even more so”, non-immigrants who this specifically pertains to. Again, presumptively under the law and I think presumptively in the collective consciousness here in the Kingdom, those folks are temporarily and so for that reason is sort of one of these well you know you are here temporarily. These are the rules to be here temporarily. If you want to be here more permanent get into a more permanent status. If you are looking to leave go ahead and go. I don't think that there's any animosity that backs that up. I just think that that is the paradigm that persist with respect to Non-immigrant status and by dint of the fact that the folks involved here for lack of better term don't have a vote in terms of voting in Thailand, do I think that will have an impact on the success rate or the prospect for success in this matter? Yeah I do I think I might have a big impact. Now here is another thing though. As noted by the petitioners or the folks that are promulgating this petition, the folks that this TM30 affects the most really are people, many of them are people who fit into the “good guy” column of the "good guys in, bad guys out" paradigm.  These are people living and working, they may have done so for a contiguous period of time, fairly pro longed period of time. Presumably they may be taxpayers or in the case of retirees they are bringing income into the country, they are spending money in the country. There are strong arguments in favor of making the TM30 system or a system similar to it that might come up in the future, making that more efficient. I totally understand that. I have also seen it described as a push to make the system more transparent and I can say since that the enforcement TM30 came online, it has been very difficult to understand what the requirements are. Who is required to do this? Under what circumstances? Moreover it has oftentimes come up where people are trying to apply for extensions of stay and this TM30 gets whacked over their head and they don't really know what to do. That is a real problem and that is a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to increase the efficiency.

One thing that finally should be noted from that first article we put up on here, again it seems to have only been in the print edition of the Bangkok Post, at the very end of the article, I will quote further again. That article is titled:  Foreigners Want TM30 Scrapped. Quoting directly, "Acting Immigration Bureau Chief, Police Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang into on admitted the TM30 was problematic.” Now that is a second hand quote but I think the head of immigration would have a very deep understanding of the Immigration system and how the apparatus works and how all these different component parts interplay with one another. I suspect it is rather problematic the TM30. Especially as the enforcement of it has just now come about, dealing with it. It has been a bit clunky. People are getting used to it. I suspect the officers who are having to enforce it are getting used to it. It is problematic and moving forward, do I think that we will probably see some traction in seeing this streamlined? I think it is very, very probable we will and it will be interesting to see. We will try to do a video to update folks on this channel if and when changes come about.