Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand 30 day stamp’

15th July 2019

Issues surrounding the decline in tourism have been of increasing concern in Thailand over the past months. Many factors seem to be at play when discussing the issue of the tourism downturn in Thailand. For instance, fallout from the US-China Trade War may be playing an integral role in the declining number of tourists coming to Thailand since the slowing of the Chinese economy has knock-on effects regionally. Specifically, the decreased purchasing power of Chinese consumers is causing a decrease in demand for travel packages to Thailand.

The China-specific issues notwithstanding, many have pointed to the increasing strength of the Thai baht as a cause of concern. Budget conscious travelers to Thailand are being put off by the relative increase in cost to travel to the Kingdom as a result of the appreciating local currency.

Finally, some of the decreasing tourist numbers could be attributed to the increasingly stringent immigration policies being placed upon ostensible tourists. In the past, there were a number of individuals who opted to live in Thailand utilizing tourist visas or 30 day stamps. These individuals who have been tabulated as “tourists” in the immigration records, but the reality was that these people were using such visas to live in the Kingdom. New enforcement measures have been put in place and new policies promulgated which are designed to discourage such behavior. For example, where once overstay in Thailand was considered a rather trivial offense which resulted in a relatively nominal fine, especially for those who overstayed their visa for a prolonged period. Now overstay can result in deportation and a prolonged registration on the Thailand Blacklist. Meanwhile, Immigration officers at border checkpoints have been turning away prospective entrants to Thailand if they are using multiple 30 day stamps in one year or are attempting to remain for a prolonged period of time in the Kingdom on single entry or multiple entry tourist visas.

Notwithstanding the above issues, Thailand remains one of the best jurisdictions in Southeast Asia to do business. Proof of the increased interest in Thailand is the fact that Foreign Direct Investment in Thailand has increased by over 200% in 2018. This increase in FDI may be attributed to the fact that the benefits which can be accorded to companies looking to do business in Thailand under the Board of Investment (BOI) are substantial and can even include prolonged tax holidays. Meanwhile, Thailand boasts the best infrastructure in the region and Bangkok has seen tremendous real estate growth as well as infrastructural improvement including, but not limited to, the expansion of the rail system within the city. High speed rail systems are likely to be brought online in coming years as well. Clearly, although Thailand is seeing some decline in terms of tourism it is increasingly apparent that business travelers and investors are choosing the Kingdom to conduct business.

It should be noted that along with all of the above developments, Thailand remains arguably the best jurisdiction for Americans doing business in the region as Americans can enjoy the benefits of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. This agreement allows Americans citizens and American companies “national treatment” when doing business in the Kingdom thereby permitting 100% ownership of American enterprises operating in Thailand. This coupled with Thailand’s infrastructure and business environment makes Thailand an especially welcoming destination for American investment.

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5th May 2018

For at least 2 years, Thai immigration officials have been ramping up their efforts to improve Immigration and visa policy. We have seen a substantial change in the attitude toward Thai tourist visa issuance as well as Immigration protocols associated therewith. This has especially been the case where those foreigners utilizing tourist visas are suspected of using such travel documents in order to live and work illegally in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, changes to the rules regarding so called “Visa runs”or “border runs” have resulted, as a practical matter, in an immigration apparatus that operates in a wholly different way than it once did.

While the above paragraph describes the changes in the laws, rules, and regulations related to Thai visas, it does not speak to issues involving enforcement of immigration law in the Kingdom as enforcement measures had largely remained unchanged during the time of the legal transitions discussed above: until recently. While the “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” initiative describes a change in paradigm within the institutions charged with maintaining Thailand’s Immigration apparatus, the “Operation Outlaw Foreigner” and “Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner” programs represent concrete steps taken by Immigration law enforcement officials to confront visa violators and deal with them accordingly. In recent months, an unprecedented number of raids at unprecedented types of venues have taken place in an effort to track down foreigners who are overstaying in Thailand or utilizing visas otherwise meant for recreational pursuits in Thailand to engage in unauthorized employment or as a means for undertaking criminal activity in the Kingdom. These raids have resulted in the arrest and deportation of thousands of foreign nationals.

In the rather recent past, those who maintained lawful non-immigrant status in the Kingdom could generally breathe easily knowing that Immigration officials’ primary targets in immigration crackdowns were: those in the country in overstay status, pretextual tourist visa status, or prolonged visa exemption status. However, recent weeks have shown that immigration officials are placing increased scrutiny upon those who could be considered otherwise lawfully present in the Kingdom on a non-immigrant Education visa. ED visas have been used by many to remain in the Kingdom in order to pursue a course of study. However, Immigration authorities seem to be increasingly of the opinion that such travel documents are being used as a pretext for living in the Kingdom and that the educational endeavor is in fact a sham. Whether this assumption is warranted likely depends upon the underlying circumstances, but this is not the point. Instead, it should be noted that scrutiny such as this represents a substantial change in mindset with respect to immigration officers as such individuals were, at one time, generally satisfied when a non-immigrant visa was produced, but it now seems as though such providence may no longer suffice when attempting to terminate an investigation into one’s status as providence of an ED visa may result in further scrutiny and possible revocation of the visa if it is determined that it is being used as a pretext.

A final noteworthy development: it seems that immigration authorities are now collecting relevant bio-metric data from those foreigners apprehended in the Kingdom for Immigration or criminal violations. In fact, it has been reported that fingerprints, facial recognition, and even DNA collection protocols may be utilized to create a database to track those who have been processed through the immigration system in an effort to track and likely enforce blacklisting measures prospectively.

Those reading this posting are well advised to note that the official attitude toward Immigration matters in Thailand has changed. The once lax enforcement attitude is a thing of the past and if recent reports are any indication, it seems likely that the immigration system will be increasingly stringent in the future.

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3rd June 2014

As of the time of this writing, the reader is likely aware of the recent developments in the Kingdom of Thailand. In recent weeks, the political tension that placed Thailand in a political stalemate came to an end with the military taking over the civilian functions of the government. Although these developments may be confusing to those operating within a Western paradigm, such events are rather un-extraordinary when viewed within the framework of relatively recent Thai history. That stated, these developments are unlikely to have a day-to-day affect upon tourists and expatriates in the Kingdom. However, as the situation may lead to regulatory changes in Thailand, one would be prudent to keep an eye upon administrative developments moving forward.

Another issue which is likely to have a very significant impact upon both temporary travelers and long term residents in Thailand is the evolving state of Thai immigration rules. At present, the previous immigration rules are still essentially in effect (although one should note that all Thai immigration authorities have discretion to withhold admission to foreign nationals whom they deem unsuitable and with the recent announcement of upcoming rule changes such discretion may be utilized more frequently in the immediate future). On August 12th of this year the administrative procedures regarding those using multiple 30 day visa exemption stamps will change. After that date it will  likely prove much more difficult for foreign nationals in Thailand to use more than one 30 day exemption stamp within a relatively short period of time as such travelers are viewed as using such stamps to abuse the relative laxity of the Thai Immigration system. Therefore, it appears likely that those wishing to enter on such stamps consecutively will be highly scrutinized at the border with anecdotal evidence suggesting that immigration officials are likely to ask for proof of hotel accommodations and sufficient funds to remain in the Kingdom. The issue of hotel accommodation could prove significant to those who have used such stamps consecutively in the past as many such individuals maintain apartments or condos in Thailand and where that is the case anecdotal evidence suggests that such foreign nationals will be asked to depart and re-enter on a proper Thai visa rather than utilize the 30 stamp.

As a result of these developments and the substantial likelihood that the current administration in Thailand will stringently enforce these  new directives it seems reasonable to assume that the best course of action for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom for a significant period of time is to obtain a long term visa in some non-immigrant category. Currently, the Thai business visa is available for business travelers, while those wishing to undertake educational endeavors in Thailand could obtain a Thai ED visa. Furthermore, those with family members in Thailand could obtain a Thai O visa, while those wishing to simply retire in the Kingdom can opt to seek a Thai retirement visa. A 60 day Thai tourist visa may also be a possibility, but some have noted that usage of multiple Thai tourist visas may prove less feasible moving forward.

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