Integrity Legal

Archive for January, 2016

22nd January 2016

In a recent article in the Pattaya Mail it was noted that those who overstay their visa in Thailand will soon be facing harsh consequences. To quote directly from the aforementioned article:

For those who surrender, foreigners overstaying up to one year will be banned for a year from coming back to Thailand. Three-year bans await overstayers of 1-3 years while those who have lived here without a visa for 3-5 years will be banned for five years. Overstayers of more than five years will be banned for 10 years.

It appears from reading the original notice from immigration that even those who overstay for a period of 90 days will be blacklisted for a 90 day period following their last departure. It would also appear that in conjunction with the recently announced blacklisting rules the Royal Thai Immigration Police have measures in place which will greatly improve that organization’s ability to monitor travelers arriving in Thailand. To quote directly from a recent article in the Bangkok Post:

Immigration police announced Monday the opening of a centralised mechanism to oversee and control the entry and exit of foreigners. The newly established Thai Immigration 24/7 Centre, located at Immigration Bureau headquarters, is divided into three working rooms where officers can monitor real-time CCTV footage at airports, ports and border checkpoints. An advance passenger processing system installed at the centre will allow officers to know personal details of visitors before they arrive, with more than 50 airlines cooperating.

Clearly, Immigration authorities in Thailand are committed to more thorough enforcement of Thailand’s immigration laws. The practical impact of these measures remains to be seen as the new rules regarding overstay are not to come into wide effect until March 20, 2016.

What do these developments mean for foreigner nationals traveling, living, and working in Thailand? First, it is clear that foreigners who once used Thailand’s somewhat lax overstay policy to remain in the Kingdom long term will no longer be able to remain in Thailand this way without some serious repercussions. Also, as Thailand recently announced changes in tourist visa and visa exemption stamp policies it seems clear that although true long term tourists will be able to remain longer in the Kingdom, those who simply use tourist visas as a means of living in Thailand will see this avenue closed in the future.

The Thai business visa remains a viable option for some who wish to remain in Thailand long term while those with a Thai spouse can avail themselves of the O visa to remain in Thailand with their family. Meanwhile, for those who qualify, the Thai retirement visa and the Thai Education visa are also methods of maintaining long term status in the Kingdom.

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8th January 2016

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was initially formed in 1967 and now includes the jurisdictions of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Myanmar. Initially, ASEAN was a sort of loose coalition which generally acted in cooperation on matters of trade facilitation and various forms of international law and regulatory enforcement. The ASEAN Community which came into being on January 1, 2016 is a different type of entity. The AC is more akin to the European Union. Although, in many respects the AC and the EU are markedly different, most notably in the fact that the AC is unlikely to see anything resembling a unified currency any time soon. However, this blogger would posit that it is not an impossibility that a coordinated currency policy could come to exist in the AC region in the future.

One of the interesting aspects of the AC is the so-called ASEAN Economic Community or AEC. This is the economic infrastructure of the new community. At present completely free movement of people and labor is not being implemented by the community, but there are signs that such a scenario could come to pass in later phases of the AC. For example, there are 8 occupations which will be allowed freer movement within the AEC framework and they are: accounting, dental services, architecture, surveying, nursing, tourism, engineering and medical services. Those who hail from one of the ASEAN jurisdictions and engage in the aforementioned endeavors could see their career prospects improved as a result of new markets opening for their specific skill set. In Thailand it appears AC passport holders will still be required to obtain a Thai work permit, notwithstanding the creation of the AEC .

As can be seen from the various ceremonies marking the creation of the AC it is clear that many of the respective ASEAN governments welcome the establishment of the AC with open arms. In Thailand, the establishment of the AC coupled with the plans to make Bangkok the rail hub for trade between Eastern Southeast Asia, Western Southeast Asia, and Southern China could mean that Bangkok will become a central entrepot for trade and travel. Meanwhile, Thai officials are still studying the provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

How the AC will ultimately function remains to be seen as the union brings together disparate political systems and jurisdictions with radically differing economies, but one thing is clear: the AC is poised to be the most dynamic economy worldwide as the region is a crossroads for trade and the economies throughout the region appear ready to significantly expand in the future.  As of the time of this writing there does not appear to be a coordinated plan to create unified ASEAN visa structure akin to the Schengen system, but in time such a development may come to fruition

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