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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsIs Thailand Trying to Get Rid Of Western Expats?

Is Thailand Trying to Get Rid Of Western Expats?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Western Expats in the Kingdom and a question that has been on the lips of a few clients these past few months which is "are they just trying to get rid of us?" I have heard this not a few times and it seems to be coming on the heels of rather fundamental changes to certain aspects of the long-stay visas, the Non-immigrant visas, specifically Retirement Visas, Marriage Visas, to some extent Business Visas although to a lesser degree, as well as more general things like the so-called TM30; the requirement that folks that are in the Kingdom for even 24 hours need to report their presence via a TM30 form and this has caused a great deal of consternation. Those who are interested in understanding TM30 in greater detail should go to the search function of this channel and check that out. Just type in TM30 and you will basically get a lot of videos about TM30, its ramifications on things etc.

The thing I want to put across in this video is, I do not believe Thailand, the Officials of Thailand, the Government of Thailand, the Immigration Office is trying to get rid of anybody. I don't think that that is the plan but I do think that they are upgrading a system that has arguably needed to be tightened up for a number of years now.  It is kind of disturbing because it is sort of a "hurry up and wait" thing. It has just sort of sat unchanged for a prolonged period and then it all changed at once or it all seems to fundamentally change at once. 

The thing to keep in mind is if you go back 10 years, back to 2009, there were some Sea changes within the Immigration apparatus and then 10 years before that, between about 97 and 99, there were there were a lot of changes back then even. So, what I am trying to get at in this video is those who are upset about certain aspects of Immigration changing, I know it is "cold comfort" but "No Thailand is not trying to get rid of you. It is simply trying to readjust its Immigration apparatus to deal with the situation on the ground." One thing for example with respect to TM30, and it was the source of a lot of consternation, that came up at a recent event, a recent panel discussion which involved a lot of bigger name Expats here in the Kingdom as well as the actual Head of Thai Immigration in Bangkok, the Bangkok metro area.  This was at the Foreign Correspondents Club here recently. One thing that I noticed that was interesting was the Thai officers and all of the message that I got from the Thai side seemed to be "Look, it is not really about you exactly. It is a security issue and the viewer needs to understand that a substantial number, a higher number of tourists are now coming in from various countries that had never come into Thailand before. Places like China and India, you are seeing a large influx of tourists. We just recently saw kind of a back and forth between various aspects of the Cabinet and the Government going back and forth over the possibility of a Visa waiver for Chinese and Indian tourists in order to sort of stoke the tourism industry here in the Kingdom and it was ultimately blocked on security grounds and after being blocked, the sort of middle ground was reached in which the visa fee waiver would be waived for a more prolonged period of time. The reason I bring this up is in that situation, security was a major concern. With TM30, security seems to be a major concern as well on the part of Thai Immigration.  It is not a matter of them wanting to kick anybody out, it is a matter that they want to upgrade the Immigration system.

Another thing to think about. Again, this is all coming on the heels of major changes. First of all with respect to the Immigration Affidavits, the Affidavits of incomes that were used in Marriage and Retirement Visas where once that was possible to just basically fill out, sort of self-proclaim ones income or assets with respect to proving up financial ability to remain in the Kingdom in a Marriage or Retirement Visa, that is no longer the case. The Thai officials are requiring that individuals go ahead and actually show paper documentation, hard evidence of a financial ability to support oneself, or oneself and one’s family, in the Kingdom whereas before they didn't require that level of evidence. I think the reason for this is because the old system became subject of a rather amount of fraud, a rather significant amount of fraud. Basically people who were essentially falsifying documentation pertaining to their finances and then some of those folks would get sick here in the Kingdom and Thailand would have to foot the bill, for example for their medical fees or to help them leave the country or to just deal them generally because they were indigent and had been granted prolonged status in the Kingdom. 

To be clear, I am not being an apologist for the system. What I am simply trying to provide is a level of clarity so that people, I hope, do not get as frustrated and do not get to feeling as negative toward Thailand based on the notion that they are trying to get rid of all the Expats. That is not the situation. They are simply trying to tune up their Immigration system if you will.  I think come from a pretty good knowledge base on this because we deal with the Immigration system so frequently here and they are not particularly hostile. They are not particularly trying to be an issue, trying to be a problem. Instead they are simply again trying to tune up their system. They did they don't take this personally. They simply want to deal with it or want to deal with the situation as they have it at hand. 

Now, are there things that they can improve?  Yes, with the TM30 I certainly think they could probably figure out a way of dealing with the online system better. The other thing that I think could probably be done a little bit better is provide a little bit more transparency and clarification with respect to financial evidence as well as exactly what the rules are going to look like with respect to Retirement Health Insurance. I think clarity would be very helpful. That being stated, do they want to get rid of westerners? No, I don't think that at all but the fact is the demography over here is changing, the security situation is changing, and with it, Immigration apparatus is changing in the Kingdom of Thailand.