Integrity Legal

Archive for March, 2016

2nd March 2016

In a recent posting on the website of the National News Bureau of Thailand the possibility of issuing Thai work permits with a validity of two years was discussed. To see the announcement please read this quotation from the aforementioned website:

The Cabinet has approved the extension of the work permit for foreign nationals to two years while giving employers four months to bring their workers to apply for the document. Director-General of the Department of Employment Arak Prommanee revealed that Cabinet approval has been granted to the proposal of the committee in charge of foreign labor management policies to have the life of foreign workers’ temporary work permit, or the pink card, extended from one year to two years. As a result, workers whose permits will expire on March 31, 2016 will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for two more years, pending the nationality verification process. To apply for the new permit, employers will be required to take their foreign employees to report themselves at registration spots designated by the Department of Employment within 120 days from April 1. The Cabinet also assigned the Department of Employment to adopt regulations in support of the permit extension within 120 days, with consideration to be given to the prevention of foreign labor shortage, national security, prevention of permanent residency, assurance of workers’ protection and establishment of an efficient management system.

It should be noted that the announcement above seems unclear regarding the type of work permit discussed. Some foreign nationals, such as Burmese, Cambodian, and Lao nationals, have a different work permit regime compared to other foreign nationals and from the above information it is difficult to ascertain whether the proposed 2 year Thai work permit scheme is meant for all foreign work permits or a specified subset. Further information will be provided for clarification should a further announcement be made.

Meanwhile, while it appears from the above announcement that Thai officials may be poised to implement more favorable conditions regarding foreign labor regulations, Thai immigration rules are poised to become much more stringently applied. New immigration rules have been on the horizon for some time now as evidenced by a January 2016 articlein the Bangkok Post discussing the proposed rule changes:

In just under two months, the Immigration Bureau will officially begin arrests and tough new penalties against foreign law-breakers. The programme is in the hands of Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, one of the most experienced immigration officers. He has spent some time drawing up new laws, rules and regulations, as part of the first major overhaul of immigration enforcement in decades.

Those overstaying a visa in Thailand will soon face strict fines and penalties. Moreover, those caught committing a crime while overstaying could see themselves barred from entering Thailand for as long as ten years. There are some who would argue that these changes are long overdue. For decades, Thailand’s immigration rules have been quite lax when compared with the rules and regulations of other countries (notably the United States which has, since the mid 1950s, had severe bars for overstaying enshrined in the provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act), but that era appears to be coming to an end. In the future, those overstaying more than 90 days could see themselves barred from reentering Thailand for varying periods of time depending upon the amount of time they have overstayed.

In a more recent article in the Bangkok Post further clarification was provided regarding how far immigration officials are seemingly willing to go in enforcing the soon-to-be enacted rules for overstayers:

Overstaying just got serious. After decades of treating visa-overstay less seriously than jaywalking, there now will be real and lasting consequences…the computerised blacklist operators at every airport and border crossing are going to kick out those who have overstayed, and not let them back. This is the really new part of the plan – exile.

Finally, notwithstanding the previously noted implementation of stricter overstay rules, it appears that those in Thailand as journalists may face increased scrutiny from immigration. In the aforementioned article, new rules for M visa holders (“M” standing for Media) was discussed:

The Foreign Ministry announced tweaked rules for the M-class non-immigrant visa and extension. Minister Don Pramudwinai himself helped to write, signed off, defended and will oversee the new rules for journalists.

Although presently there are no clear guidelines yet set regarding the new regime for administering M visas the consensus seems to be that M visa issuance may become more selective. Some have surmised that fewer freelance journalists will be granted M visas moving forward. This blog will continue to provide updates on the situation as the rules come into effect and the methods of enforcing new rule changes become clearer. Readers are strongly encouraged to follow the links above and conduct their own research on these matters as failure to adequately understand these policies could lead to problems in the future. New rules for overstay in Thailand are set to be implemented in mid-March 2016.

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