Is it difficult to enter and stay in Thailand?
How many times did I hear foreign clients complaining about Thai Immigration policies and how difficult it is to live or stay in Thailand? Believe me we are the lucky one because Thailand gives us VIP treatment in comparison to what Thai citizens have to go through to visit our countries.
Have you ever wondered what Thais who want to go abroad have to go through?
Before starting to criticize Thai immigration laws or authorities compare with what Thai people have to go through to travel or visit your country.
Have you ever heard about the interviews organized by foreign embassies in Bangkok to decide whether a visa will be granted or not to a Thai citizen?
Have you ever read a rejection letter issued by an Embassy telling a young Thai woman, who has (1) a Master Degree from a local university, (2) regular employment and a salary with (3) a support letter from her Employer (a company with 20 million THB of capital and 200 millions of assets) who requests the Embassy to support the employee’s student visa application in order for her to study English abroad, and (4) a letter from School in England stipulating that she has been registered and has pre-paid her month of studies.
Despite this Bona Fide visa application her visa application was rejected because there was suspicion that she was applying for a visa for prostitution. Of course, the language was less direct and more subtle but the meaning was clear for anyone to understand.
Why are they so many visas names?
There are so many visas names because there are so many situations to cover. This situation is however unfortunate and as a result there are a lot of confusion among foreigners as to the name of their visa.
The most common is the confusion is between the “tourist visa” and the stamp that foreigners received when entering Thailand without a visa and which a lot of foreigners called the tourist visa. The real “tourist visa” is a visa delivered by a Thai Embassy overseas and is different from the stamp most foreigners received when entering Thailand, which is called “Visa exemption”.
Where can you find information on applying for Thai visas?
Thai Embassies have explanatory forms in English and information can be found on the two official web sites I already mentioned above.
Who decide if you may enter Thailand territory or not?
Thai embassies and consulates only issue the visas.
The person who actually decides if you may enter Thailand is the immigration officer at the port of entry.
Be aware that the fact that a foreign citizen has obtained a visa from a Thai Embassy abroad or is entitle to the visa exemption does not give said foreigner an absolute right to enter Thailand.
When entering Thailand (and when leaving as well) do your best to stay in the immigration officer good grace.
When may an immigration officer refuse you the right to enter Thailand?
Even if you are holding valid documents, the immigration officer may refuse to let you enter Thailand if he has reason to believe that you fall into one of the following categories and you are either:
- a foreign person prohibited from entering Thailand under the Immigration Act or
- (2) a foreign person that is abusing the purpose of the Visa.
For example, an immigration officer could refuse entry to a foreigner that has been coming Thailand over a one-year period with successive tourist visas.
The motivation for the refusal would be that it does not take one year to visit Thailand and that a foreigner that keeps coming into Thailand with successive tourist visas is not entering as a tourist but for another purpose and hence is abusing the purpose of his/her visa.
Note that I have never heard of such an occurrence yet but technically such a thing could happen.
Who are the persons prohibited to enter Thailand?
Any foreign citizen that falls under one of the 16 following categories is prohibited to enter Thailand:
- have no genuine valid passport or document used in lieu of passport; or
- have a genuine valid passport or document used in lieu of passport but no valid Visa issuance by the Royal Thai Embassies, the Royal Thai Consulates-General or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the exception of course of those whom meet Visa exemption requirements, or
- have no appropriate means of subsidence following entry into the Kingdom or
- have entered Thailand to be employed as an unskilled or untrained laborer, or
- work in violation of the Alien Work Permit Law; or
- are mentally unstable or are carrying any diseases stated in the Ministerial Regulations; or
- have not yet been vaccinated against smallpox; or inoculated, or undergone any other medical treatment for protection against disease; and have refused to have such vaccinations administered by the Immigration Doctor;or
- have been imprisoned by judgment of a Thai Court; or by lawful injunction or judgment of the Court of a foreign country, except for when the penalty is for a petty offence, or negligence, or is provided for as an exception by the Ministerial Regulations; or
- have a behavior which could cause possible danger to the public; or have the likelihood of being a nuisance [I know more than a few nuisance and a few persons that see me as one] or to act violently against the peace, safety and security of the public or to the security of the nation; or
- are under warrant of arrest by competent officials of foreign governments; or
- are believed to enter Thailand for the purpose of being involved in prostitution, the trafficking of women or children, drug smuggling, or other types of smuggling which are against public morality or
- have no money or bond as prescribed by the Minister under Section 14 of the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979)or
- prohibited to enter by the Minister under Section 16 of the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979)
- have been deported by either the Government of Thailand or that of other foreign countries; or
- have seen the revocation of their right of stay in the Kingdom or in foreign countries; or
- have been expelled from the Kingdom by competent officials at the expense of the Government of Thailand unless exemption is provided by the Minister on an individual basis. Another cause could be for not paying my bills! one can always dream…
May you correct a mistake on your entry stamp?
It might happen that the immigration officer miscalculates the duration of your stay when filling your entrance stamp and enters an incorrect date of departure on your passport.
For example, you enter Thailand on the first of the month, you are entitled to a 30-day period but the officer will enter the 20th of the month as your departure date.
If this ever happens to you please DO NOT ALTER OR CORRECT THE VISA STAMP.
Go directly to the closest immigration office and ask an immigration officer to correct the date of departure.
To alter or correct a visa is a very serious criminal offence and one that is not taken lightly by Thai authorities. There is no way out of this one.
May you overstay your visa?
You can but should not.
Overstay is one of those tolerance that can get you in trouble because at the end of the day overstay is still illegal even if it is possible for those who overstay their visas to clear overstay at the immigration office or at the airport by paying a fine of 500 THB per day (with a maximum of 20,000 THB).
Why should you not take overstay lightly?
Because it is illegal and voluntary clearing your overstay or being arrested whilst you’re overstaying your visa is not the same. A simple police passport control while overstay is enough to get you into a lot of trouble.
Among other things, if you are arrested in overstay you could face unpleasantness such as prosecution, detention, expulsion and black listing.
For all these reasons I strongly advise you never to overstay your visa. Remember you can always get a 7 days extension from the immigration. To the worth a visa run (it will cost you around 2,000 THB and 24 hours of your time) is far better than to overstay.
If you don’t try to abuse the system visa run is a simple way to extend your period of stay especially by comparison to overstay.
Note that if you do a visa run by car or bus you will receive only 15 days visa when you re-enter Thailand against 30 days if you fly out and back.
May you work once you have legally entered in Thailand?
Barring exceptions, you are not permitted to work in Thailand, regardless of your types of visa, unless
- you have obtained a Work Permit; or
- your company has received a license from the BOI; or
- you are in Thailand to perform an urgent work (for example a surgeon that would come to perform an urgent operation) for a period of less than 15 days and have notified the labor department in writing to do so.
Note that retirees benefiting from the one-year Visa type O are expressly forbidden to work and this prohibition is mentioned in their Visa
May you work if you are not paid?
The definition of work is very broad “exercising any activity physical or intellectual with or without remuneration”.
Therefore, whether you are paid or not you cannot work if you do not enter into one of the three categories above mentioned.
Do you have to confirm your address
Originally posted 2009-07-21 14:54:28.