Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thai Citizenship’

26th June 2010

In a recent posting on the Chiang Mai Mail website, issues surrounding foreigners’ rights in Thailand were discussed. The issues came up in the context of a recent road show conducted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners residing in Thailand sometimes find it difficult to fully exercise their rights as the rules themselves can be somewhat vague. For example, the issue of alien registration on a Thai Tabien Baan can be confusing as few foreign nationals are fully aware of their right’s regarding registration. To quote the Chiang Mai Mail’s report about the recent Interior Ministry Roadshow:

Holders of Permanent residency can get a blue book (Tor Ror 14) and holders of temporary visas can get on the yellow book (Tor Ror 13) before they can apply for naturalization. The Provincial Administration reiterated an important point, that foreigners have the right to be listed on the census registration, “It is not well known even among officials. We have contacted registration officials that you have this right and you should insist on it.”

For many, registration on a Yellow Tabien Baan is beneficial because many Thai government offices view a Tabien Baan as definitive proof of lawful presence in Thailand and use the information in the Tabien Baan accordingly. Another issue that came up at the aforementioned roadshow was the issue of naturalization of those seeking Thai Citizenship. In the past, the language requirements for naturalization were rather stringent. During the recent roadshow the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry commented upon the revised linguistic requirements for naturalization to Thai Citizenship:

The requirements for naturalization were laid out, including the income requirements for both those married to Thais and those not married to Thais. The linguistics requirement has been reduced but the applicant must be able to sing the National and Royal anthems. Speaking and listening is mandatory but reading and writing is no longer required.

Finally, of particular interest to many foreign nationals in Thailand is that of the 90 day “check in” for foreigners present in the Kingdom on a “temporary” visa such as a Thai business visa or a Thai O visa. Regarding the Ministry of Interior’s stance on the issue, the Chiang Mai Mail was quoted as saying:

The next issue under discussion was Immigration and the right of habitation. Immigration officials discussed the various visas and how to obtain them as well as how to obtain Permanent Residency. The main issue of contention brought up by multiple Consul Generals, including Japanese Consul General Junko Yakata, was that of the 90 day reporting required of all foreigners on long stay visa extensions. Consul General Yakata told the officials that there are 3,000 Japanese nationals living in Northern Thailand. She requested a simplification of the process, perhaps by extending the length of time needed in between reports.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin requested a change in the 90 day reporting procedure as well, citing the large numbers of Chinese students who attend Chiang Mai schools who cannot take time off from school to travel to Immigration to report. He suggested they open on the weekends for those who have jobs and classes.

The official justified the 90 day reporting by saying “it allows us the best possible protection. If someone goes missing then we have more recent information as to their whereabouts to give to the Embassy.”

90 day reporting is currently required of those foreigners remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Anyone in the Kingdom on an extension must report their address every 90 days. As can be gathered from the above quotation, some foreign nationals in Thailand feel that the 90 day reporting requirement is cumbersome. However, Thai authorities seem unwilling to change the rules as the current system would seem to provide the most efficient method of maintaining records as to the last known addresses of foreign nationals in Thailand. This is important as Thai authorities can use the data from 90 day reporting to apprise foreign governments of the location of their citizens for purposes of death or disappearance in Thailand. In this author’s opinion, the 90 day reporting scheme is rather cumbersome, but no one, as of yet, has provided a feasible alternative which would comport to the needs of all concerned.

For Related Information please see: Thailand Permanent Residence.

more Comments: 04

12th July 2009

I was speaking with a Thai-British Dual national recently who only just obtained documentation reflecting his Thai nationality. There are some interesting misconceptions regarding Thai Nationality. One of the first major misconceptions is the idea that one is not Thai until they obtain a Thai Identification Card or a Thai passport. In point of fact, if one is born Thai, then regardless of whether they obtained a Thai ID card, they are Thai from birth.

There is also a mistaken belief that if one is born to a Thai mother outside of Thailand, then the child is not a Thai national. Again, this is not the case. Any person born to a Thai mother is Thai. Another very interesting aspect of Thai law regarding nationality is the idea that any person born of two immigrants in Thailand is Thai. This provision should not be misconstrued, under Thai law an immigrant is one who has what we call Thai permanent residence. Therefore, a child of two Non-Immigrant visa holders (Thai B Visa, Thai O Visa, Thai ED Visa, etc.) will not be born a Thai national. However, in the past what is now known as Thai permanent residence was given out quite frequently to those entering the Kingdom and as a result, the offspring of those immigrants were given Thai nationality from birth.

After reading through the provisions of the Thai nationality act, it is clear that specific legal mechanisms were created for Thai women to renounce their Thai Citizenship. Women could renounce their citizenship if they were taking the citizenship of their foreign husband (other provisions in the act were created to allow Thai citizenship to be reclaimed after renunciation should the Thai woman deem it necessary). However, there are no provisions providing for male renunciation of Thai citizenship. This begs the question: Can a Thai-born man renounce his Thai Citizenship? The answer appears to be: No.  The policy reason behind this bar on renunciation probably stems from the fact that male Thai nationals are subject to conscription for military service. Therefore, the bar on renouncing Thai citizenship seeks to limit the ability of those who may wish to avoid military service, but it creates some confusing scenarios where a Thai man seeks to obtain another nationality. There are certain countries that require renunciation of one’s prior citizenship before naturalization, but where the Thais do not recognize the renunciation it creates a situation in which a person is unable to renounce his citizenship. This then creates a precarious legal predicament because if one is required to renounce previous citizenship, but cannot do so, does this bar them from taking another citizenship?

(None of this post should be considered legal advice. For such advice contact an Attorney. No relationship with an attorney is formed by reading this post.)

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.