Visa abuse is not a novelty in Thailand and for the past 3 years we have seen a race between foreigners who abuse the visa system to stay in Thailand (and those who assist them) and the Thai Immigration who always finish by catching up.
A few years ago the best way to stay in Thailand was to set up a company, get a work permit and a one year visa. Formalities and requirements were easy to fulfill because there was no real control by the immigration. All you needed was a company; it needed not to exercise a real business.
Of course Thai authorities put an end to it. Now the problem is that in order to put an end to this scheme they had to make the existing regulations more constraining and added new requirements as well punishing in the process real businessmen.
Those who wanted to stay in Thailand started to use other methods such as the Visa Run, the Tourist Visa or the Education Visa. The immigration has for the past 3 years done all it could to make visa run as inconvenient as possible for those using it creating in the process a new business activity. There was also recently a recent crackdown on back to back tourist visa but to date nothing was done in order to stop the abuse in relation to the Education Visa and we have seen Thai language schools and or Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) school flourished.
It seems that the immigration is now catching up with those that were purchasing Thai language schools package in order to obtain ED visas and stays in Thailand most of whom are not actually following the courses they had paid for. Immigration Officers in Pattaya are now checking the Thai language knowledge of so called “students” requiring an extension of their ED visa based on Thai language school documents. I can only guess that this is only the first step and that other measures will be soon taken in order to reduce the number of ED visas which are delivered by Thai Embassies to the point where genuine students will be inconvenienced by the measures.
Finally I cannot help to wonder whether Thai Immigration officers will also start to check the knowledge of the so called “students” of Muay Thai School (Thai boxing), that would certainly be an interesting spectacle that would make the trip to the immigration office worthwhile.
Note: This post is an excerpt of Rene Philippe Dubout next book: “How to Invest Safely Into Thailand” to be published in January 2010
About the Author:
The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.
© Copyrights 2009 – Rene Philippe Dubout – This article may be reprinted if information about the author, the websites, and the URLs remain intact
Originally posted 2009-12-19 05:48:46.