Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand Visa Application’

20th June 2019

In the past 18 months it appears that there has been a major shift in the institutional paradigm of both the American and Thai immigration systems. For example, notwithstanding the fact that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has recently announced that more petition categories will be processed digitally moving forward, it appears that the increasingly complex nature of immigration forms and procedures is actually slowing down the overall US visa process. This news comes closely on the heels of the announcement that all International USCIS offices will be closed. In recent announcements, March 2020 is the deadline at which all international operations of USCIS shall cease. For readers in Thailand it should be noted that this announcement will also impact the USCIS Bangkok Field Office, although the exact date of closure remains to be seen. In anticipation of the upcoming office closures USCIS recently made the following announcement (quoting directly from the official USCIS website):

Beginning July 1, USCIS will no longer accept Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status at international field offices by mail or in person.

Seemingly in anticipation of questions raised by relevant parties living abroad, the announcement went on to note:

In very rare circumstances, a U.S. embassy, U.S. consulate, or USCIS international field office may accept a Form I-407 in person if an individual needs immediate proof that they have abandoned LPR status.

It is worth noting that the announcement makes special mention that I-407 surrenders at Embassies and Consulates will only be accepted under “rare” circumstances, it seems logical to presume that as a practical matter it will not be possible to file an I-407 form abroad after July 1, 2019. As can be seen from the information above, undertaking matters which pertain to American immigration is becoming increasingly arduous. It does not appear that the US immigration process is going to become less difficult to navigate any time in the near future.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, authorities are rolling out changes to rules regarding certain long-stay visa categories. Most notably, Ministry of Public Health officials have announced that an insurance regime will be brought into effect which will require foreign retirees in Thailand to obtain insurance as part of the application process for a Thai retirement visa. There is still some confusion regarding whether these new insurance regulations will pertain only to those who file a retirement visa application abroad or whether these new regulations will also apply to those seeking an extension of stay in retiree status in the Kingdom. Presently, all commentary on that topic is speculation as the new regulations have yet to be fully finalized.

Meanwhile, those seeking Thai visas from Laos have seen the Thai Embassy in Vientiane begin processing visa application appointments online. This has resulted in the number of applications processed diminishing as the appointment system effectively “caps” the number of applications which can be lodged in a given day. The upshot of this is that the Thai Consulate in Savannakhet has seen an increase in their case load. Laos is a popular destination for those in Thailand wishing to undertake a “visa run” or “border run” in order to prolong their lawful status in the Kingdom. The fact that the number of applications processed in Vientiane has diminished has resulted in the number of applications processed in Savannakhet rise.

After being granted lawful status in Thailand, the authorities appear increasingly concerned that foreign nationals are reporting their whereabouts in Thailand. A harder line regarding filing of the TM30 notice of residence has resulted in the number of fines being levied for failure to file being increased. Meanwhile, the added complexity of TM30 compliance has added a new layer of difficulty to the overall immigration process. In short, immigration matters in both Thailand and the United States are arguably becoming more byzantine. For this reason, it may be prudent for those wishing to navigate the immigration system to retain the services of a legal professional in order to achieve success in obtaining and maintaining lawful status in either jurisdiction.

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17th April 2018

In recent months, this blogger has dealt with a number of cases involving Thai visa applications at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Furthermore, after initial visa issuance there have been a number of cases involving Thai visa extensions. In nearly every case the process of obtaining the initial visa or extending the previously issued visa has seemed to be more difficult when compared to the past. This blogger has discussed this issue with other expatriates and long term visitors in Thailand and the general consensus seems to conclude that immigration matters are becoming more difficult in the Kingdom. A valid question to ask: is this true? The answer: yes, at least to some degree. While it does not appear that those seeking visas through the One-Stop visa and work permit facilities are particularly burdened by increased document scrutiny and more stringent policy enforcement, although those able to seek benefits in the One-Stop facilities generally would not be particularly “borderline” cases and therefore may not need to fret over increased scrutiny anyway. It does appear that current immigration protocols have had the effect, whether intended or not, of making the process comparatively more difficult to undergo.

It should be noted that processing a visa application through a Thai Consulate abroad or seeking an extension at an immigration office in Thailand is by no means impossible. However, without assiduous compilation of requisite documentation, careful recordation of relevant photographic evidence, and, in some cases, assistance of competent accounting professionals well-versed in the necessities of Thai immigration officials the task of extending a visa can seem virtually insurmountable. There are those who pose the question: does there appear to be any point in the future where these difficulties may ease up? This blogger’s answer: no. Since the advent of the “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” initiative, immigration officials in multiple regions and in multiple roles have made it clear that relevant regulations will be strictly adhered to while the use of discretion will be curtailed. If anything, it appears that the overarching stringency may spread to other realms which impact foreigners in Thailand. In fact, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Labor Ministry officials are not as readily issuing 1 year work permits as they once were. Meanwhile, Thai Embassies and Consulates that were once rather lax in issuing long term multiple entry visas for Thailand have either stopped completely, or vastly curtailed the criteria under which such visas would be issued.

The immigration apparatus of Thailand is increasingly looking more and more like those of its counterparts in the West and although many westerners travel to Thailand and complain about the stringency of immigration policy in the Kingdom it still should be noted that Thai Immigration regulations are still, generally speaking, more relaxed than those of the home countries of many of the aggrieved arrivals.

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