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Archive for the ‘Thailand Embassy Singapore’ Category

31st October 2010

In recent weeks there seems to have been some confusion related to the issue of overstaying one’s visa in Thailand. It would appear that there was a certain amount of consternation being created as a result of postings on the internet discussing Thai Immigration policies regarding overstay. Apparently, Thai Immigration authorities are heavily scrutinizing departing foreigners’ visas to ensure that those leaving the Kingdom of Thailand remained in lawful status for the duration of their stay and those not in lawful status at the time of departure must face legal consequences in the form of fines and possible incarceration. Penalties for overstay in Thailand have always been prescribed by relevant Thai Immigration law, but confusion seems to have arisen as a result of a posting on the internet stating that Thai Immigration procedures would be changing. However, the Phuket Gazette website phuketgazette.net subsequently reported that such speculation was incorrect. To quote directly from the Phuket Gazette:

Col Panuwat today told the Gazette, “I contacted the legal department at Immigration Bureau Headquarters on Soi Suan Plu in Bangkok, the Phuket Airport Immigration Superintendent and other authorities as well.”

“All have assured me that they are still following all the terms of the Immigration Act 1979, enacted on February 29 that year,” he said.

Under the Act, “any alien who stays in the Kingdom without permission, or with permission expired or revoked, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years, or a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht, or both.”

Penalties for Immigration violators can be rather severe, but in many cases individuals find that they have overstayed their visa by a matter of days. In a situation similar to this it is reasonable to believe that Immigration officers are unlikely to impose more than a fine on the offending party as they depart Thailand of their own accord. However, as the duration of one’s unlawful presence increases so too could one assume that the potential penalties might increase as well. Bearing that in mind, those pondering the overstay issue are wise to note that Royal Thai Immigration Officers have significant discretion in matters involving visas, admission to Thailand, and overstay in Thailand. As the aforementioned posting went on to note:

The Phuket Gazette notes that Immigration officers at checkpoints have always had complete discretion on what punitive measures to take with overstays, as specified above.

They can also deny entry to anyone arriving at a border checkpoint for any reason, even if the person arriving is in possession of a valid visa.

In the United States, Immigration matters are generally dealt with under Congressional plenary power and Immigration officers at the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) are empowered with the authority to place prospective entrants into expedited removal proceedings or to simply deny a foreign national, even if said individual has a valid visa, admission to the USA. Thailand’s immigration rules are different from those of the United States, but one thing remains constant: Immigration Officers at any checkpoint throughout Thailand retain a great deal of discretion in matters pertaining to overstay under Thai law. Therefore, foreign nationals in Thailand should expect for overstay matters to be handled on a cases by case basis as each case is unique and no one has a right to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand without being in lawful status.

For related information please see: Thailand visa or I-601 waiver.

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3rd March 2010

As readers of this blog may recall from a previous post, the Thai authorities recently announced that the fee waiver for Thai tourist visas was ending in March of this year. However, ThaiVisa.com has recently reported that the tourist visa waiver program is to be re-instituted in April of this year. Apparently, the positive impact upon the tourism sector is one of the underlying reasons for the extension of this program:

“Less than one month after Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Thaivisa.com that the free tourist visa scheme would end on March 5, 2010, the Thailand Government has announced the tourism stimulus package will continue for another year, including $US10,000 in free riot insurance for tourists. The extension of the tourism industry stimulus package was approved by the cabinet today, March 2, 2010 in response to a request from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The extension will be effective from April 1, 2010 and go through to March 31, 2011 and appears to leave a three and a half week window in which tourist visas for Thailand will be charged for.”

As some may recall from another previous post on this blog, many Royal Thai Embassies, Consulates, and  Honorary Consuls around the world were unhappy with the no-cost tourist visa scheme as the funds previously accrued from processing tourist visas were no longer being paid. How this recent announcement will impact the Honorary Consulates as well as the Embassies and Consulates-General remains to be seen.

Another interesting aspect of the recent announcement is the fact that foreign nationals are also to be provided with no-cost riot insurance as part of this new program to revitalize the Thai tourist industry. To further quote from ThaiVisa.com:

“The $10,000 free riot insurance coverage was introduced last year and initiated by the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) in response to international insurance firms’ refusal to sell insurance coverage to visitors to Thailand following the 2008 closure of Thailand airports by members of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD). When the insurance coverage was first introduced last year, Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president of TCT, said the government had set aside Bt190.75 million ($US5.820 million) for the initial six month period covering May to October, 2009, with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports responsible for paying the insurance premium of $1 per visitor. The insurance policy provides for payments of up to $10,000 in the event of death, injury, and/or trip inconvenience, and appears to only cover people in possession of a 60-day tourist visa. Resident expatriates living and working in Thailand on non-immigrant visas do not appear to be covered for death, injury or inconvenience caused by riots.”

It will be interesting to see if the provision of this insurance will cause any stir among foreign residents as all of those who do not have Thai Permanent Residence are technically considered non-immigrants and therefore only “temporarily” staying in the Kingdom. This even applies to those with a Foreign Tabien Baan (also know as a Yellow Tabien Baan) as these registrations are specifically noted as “temporary.” Even though all non-residents are classified as non-immigrants, the category of the visa determines the privileges that will be extended to the visa holder. Therefore, those with a Thai business visa are entitled to file for a Thai work permit while those holding a tourist visa are not accorded that privilege. As a result, the provision of riot insurance could be viewed as as specific privilege that is only accorded to those holding certain types of Thai visas.

For further information about Thai Immigration please see: Thai visa.

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4th February 2010

Among the Expatriate Community in Thailand, one of the popular websites for up-to-the-minute information about visas and immigration issues is: Thaivisa.com. At the time of this writing Thaivisa.com is reporting that the free Thai tourist visa program is coming to an end. To quote a posting on that site directly:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, who oversees the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates worldwide, today confirms to Thaivisa.com that visa fees will be levied for all visa classes from March 5, 2010. Tourist visas are valid for a 60 days stay and may be extended at local Thai Immigration offices…Tourist visas has been issued free of charge since June 25, 2009 in an effort to revive the Thai travel and tourism industry.”

As stated above, the Tourist visa fee waiver program was initiated to help in reviving the beleaguered Thai tourism industry which suffered some setbacks after an airport closure and the worldwide economic downturn. It would seem that these measures have been successful in buoying the economy as the decision has been made to end the program.

This may come as a relief to the staff of Royal Thai Consulates and Embassies overseas as it has been rumored that the tourist visa fee waiver has caused an upsurge in tourist visa applications and caused a drain upon the resources of many Thai Diplomatic and Consular postings.

These authors hope that the rescission of the Thai visa fee waiver marks the beginning of an overall recovery in the Thai tourism sector as it is one of the most important facets of Thailand’s service economy. The impact that the re-imposition of the tourist visa application fee will have upon the “visa run” remains to be seen, but many believe that most visa runners will continue to opt for the tourist visa as it currently provides a significantly longer duration of status compared to land border visa exemptions which are currently only being granted for a maximum validity of 15 days.

Some have also noted that the end of the free tourist visa may result in the increased promulgation of dual entry tourist visas as Thai Consulates and Embassies are more willing to grant such travel documents because they are once again being compensated for the processing.

It should be noted that a 60 day Thai tourist visa can be extended by 30 more days if the bearer takes their passport and visa to a local Thai Immigration office and pays the extension fee. At present, the extension fee is approximately 1900 Thai baht.

For related information please see: Business Visa Thailand.

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25th January 2010

Thai Visas From Canada

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Thailand has been voted one of the top vacation destinations for those on a budget. Many believe that Thailand with its beautiful weather, captivating beaches, and incredible nightlife, is truly a modern paradise. Many look to the Kingdom of Thailand as a great place for long term tourism or as a location for retirement. No matter what one’s desires are, Thailand has something for everyone. In recent years, Immigration rules, regulations, and restrictions have made staying in Thailand for a long period of time something of a challenge. However, there are still ways in which foreigners can obtain long term visas.

For those of Canadian nationality who are thinking of remaining in Thailand long term, it may be better to obtain a Thai visa while in Canada rather than traveling to Thailand and seeking a Thai visa extension from within the Kingdom. The reason for the need for preparation is based upon the fact that Thai Immigration does allow a foreigner to enter Thailand for a period of 30 days without a visa. At the time of this writing, this rule applies to Canadian nationals. However, the fact is that the foreigner in the Kingdom in this status does not actually have a Thai visa, but instead has a Thai visa exemption. Therefore, applying for an extension in Thailand is very difficult as, legally speaking, there is no visa to extend. This scenario often creates a situation in which the foreigner must then do a “visa run” to an Embassy or Consulate outside of Thailand in order to obtain a visa and return to the Kingdom.

By obtaining a Thai visa before leaving Canada, Canadians can forestall the need for a visa run as Thai multiple entry visas can sometimes be issued with a validity of one year. Upon each entry, the foreign national using a 1 year multiple entry visa will be admitted to the Kingdom for a period of 90 days. That being said, in order for a new 90 days of lawful status to commence all the foreign national need do is leave the Kingdom and reenter. In a sense, this is a visa run, but it only occurs every 90 days rather than once every 30 or 60 days. Also, in this situation, there is no need to go to an Embassy near Thailand as the foreigner’s 90 day stamp should be granted automatically upon reentry.

Another issue that should be considered is that of employment. A 1 year multiple entry Thai business visa can be used as a basis for submitting a Thai work permit application.

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13th January 2010

Thailand visa issues seem to be one of the most popular topics discussed on this blog. This may be due to the fact that many people who travel to the Kingdom of Thailand find that they would prefer to remain for a long period of time. Unfortunately, obtaining a Thai long term visa seems to be getting more and more difficult as visa regulations become increasingly complex and cumbersome. That being said, there is one rule that can have a major impact upon one’s chances of obtaining a Thai visa. This rule deals with foreign passport validity.

In many cases, Thai Consular Officers working at Consulates and Embassies overseas are hesitant to provide long term visas to Thailand if the applicant’s underlying passport is not valid for the entire duration of the visa. This being said, there is a bright line rule at most Consulates: the applicant must have at least 6 months of validity left on their passport in order for any visa to be issued. However, as a practical matter Consular Officers have a great deal of discretion regarding visa issuance and short term passport validity is frowned upon. This negative attitude could translate into a Thai visa application’s denial if the officer is uncomfortable issuing a visa to the applicant based upon the totality of the circumstances.

For those interested in obtaining a Thailand visa it is wise to have a passport that is valid for at least one year. Further, some posts prefer machine readable passports as they provide an extra level of security and act as a means of preventing visa fraud because it is more difficult to forge a machine readable travel document.

As with US Consulates and Embassies, each Thai Consulate or Thai Embassy has a slightly unique procedure for processing visa applications and as a result the above information should be checked against the post policies and guidelines at the time of application. As a general rule, a Thai visa applicant would be wise to present a well-founded application along with a machine readable passport valid for more than six months, but preferably more than one year.

For Americans seeking a new passport in Thailand please contact the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy Bangkok as this office is primarily responsible for passport issuance to those resident in Thailand. For those living in Northern Thailand the US Consulate Chiang Mai can also assist with passport procurement for American Citizens.

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17th November 2009

As more and more Thais marry foreign nationals the Thai diaspora grows. Many Thai-American couples immigrate to the United States of America using either a fiance visa such as a K1 visa or a marriage visa like a K3 visa or CR1 visa. When these couples have children a few questions arise. First, what is the child’s nationality? Second, is the child entitled to dual nationality. Third, if entitled to a Thai passport how do we go about obtaining one? This is where the Thai Consular Report of Birth Abroad comes into play.

It should be noted that a child born to a Thai mother overseas is born with Thai nationality. A child born to a Thai father abroad is probably Thai although there are some restrictions in the Thai Nationality act. For our purposes we will assume the child is born with Thai nationality.

In order for a Thai national who was born abroad to obtain a Thai passport a Consular Report of Birth Abroad must be obtained by the foreign born Thai. This report of birth abroad is similar to the US Consular Report of Birth Abroad in that it provides proof that the child was born to a Citizen of the Kingdom of Thailand. Pursuant to relevant sections of Thai nationality law, the child of a Thai Citizen is Thai. Therefore, once a report of birth abroad is issued a Thai passport can be acquired.

Some are under the mistaken impression that Thais and Americans cannot have dual nationality. This is not true. There is no provision under Thai law prohibiting dual nationality. Further, United States nationality law does not prohibit dual nationality. The major issue for dual nationals concerns their two home countries. A Thai-American with dual nationality is considered exclusively an American citizen when in the United States of America (or one of its protectorates, possessions, or territories) and exclusively a Thai citizen when in the Kingdom of Thailand.

There can be a great many problems that can arise if one fails to obtain a Thai Consular Report of Birth Abroad on behalf of one’s child. This is particularly true if the child later wishes to reside in Thailand with the same benefits as other Thai citizens. Proving Thai citizenship from birth can be difficult if there has been a long period of time between the child’s birth and subsequent application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. There can be particularly daunting problems if the Thai national is a boy because there are military draft requirements for male Thais. If one does not fulfill their draft obligations and subsequently wishes to obtain a Thai passport the bureaucratic difficulties could be legion. Therefore, it may be wise to retain the advice of a Thai attorney or law firm if a man wishes to sort out his Thai nationality after missing his draft year.

A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can be issued at a Thai Embassy or Consulate in the country where the Thai was born. The Thai posts have a section similar to the  American Citizen Services section at a US Embassy which handles Reports of Birth Abroad.

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