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Posts Tagged ‘Visa Thailand’

25th October 2018

It recently came to this blogger’s attention, via a press release from the US Embassy in Bangkok, that the Embassy seems to be in the process of discontinuing issuance of income affidavits pertaining to verification of finances in the context of application for certain types of Thai visa extension. To quote directly from the press release:

As of January 1, 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai will cease to provide the income affidavit for the purpose of applying for Thai retirement and family visas and will not notarize previous versions of the income affidavit.  The Royal Thai Government requires actual verification of income to certify visa applicants meet financial requirements for long-stay visas.  The U.S. government cannot provide this verification and will no longer issue the affidavits.

Those unaware of the importance of these documents should take note of the fact that in the past notarized income affidavits were used in connection with applications for either a Thai retirement visa or a Thai marriage visa. Such documents were utilized in lieu of presenting evidence of a lump sum in a Thai bank account (800,000 THB for a retirement visa, and 400,000 THB for a marriage visa) or proof of a prolonged history of income in a Thai bank account (65,000 THB per month for a retirement visa and 40,000 per month for a marriage visa). These documents were generally issued by the American Citizen Services (ACS) Section of the US Embassy. In the past, a notarized income affidavit from the US Embassy which was legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was sufficient to meet the evidentiary requirements of the Thai Immigration officers adjudicating financial documentation in connection with applications for visa extensions. As seems to be the case in matters pertaining to British income letters, American officials appear to be unwilling to continue issuance these instruments in light of the recent official Thai requests that the veracity of the information in the affidavit be verified rather than merely the authenticity of the signature on the document. It seems that although the Embassy is unable to continue issuing such documentation as it was issued in the past, they will continue to notarize other documentation.

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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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13th September 2013

It appears that Thailand intends to implement an E-visa system by the year 2015, Thailand Television Channel 3 is reporting. Apparently, the plan will allow visa seekers to apply for a Thai visa online. Currently, those seeking tourist visas and non-immigrant visas (such as the Thai business visa, the Thai O visa, and the Thai ED visa) are required to apply at the nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate in their country of origin or residence. As of the time of this writing, it is not clear which visa categories will be available online. It is also unclear whether passport holders from all countries outside of Thailand will be eligible to apply for an e-visa online, or if e-visa application will be restricted to foreign nationals from certain jurisdictions. In contrast to the current method of obtaining a Thai visa, which requires a physical visa stamp or visa sticker being placed in a traveler’s passport, the new system will not require any stamp or sticker in the passport itself. Instead, the proposed plan will create a system where the e-visa will be connected to the traveler’s passport number via computer and thereby accessible to Royal Thai Immigration officers as well as airline personnel.

The topic of e-visas was recently raised by officials at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a spate of incidents occurred which resulted in the disappearance of a number of Thai visa stickers destined for various Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. It is thought that by creating an e-visa protocol the security of both the Thai Immigration and the Thai Foreign Service systems would be enhanced.  As pointed out  previously on this blog, Thai Honorary Consulates abroad have been in the process of changing their visa processing procedures as heavier scrutiny seems to be being placed upon long term Thai visa applicants. The proposed e-visa system may be implemented in order to provide prospective travelers with both a convenient avenue for obtaining a Thai visa as well as a system which maintains the integrity of the Thai visa application process.

Currently, it is possible for foreign nationals of some countries to enter the Kingdom of Thailand without applying for a visa since Thai Immigration officials routinely grant 30 day visa exemption stamps to many travelers arriving in Thailand by air, and 15 day visa exemption stamps to those being admitted into Thailand via a land border. Whether or not the new e-visa system will affect the current visa exemption system remains to be seen. Also, as noted previously, questions remain as to the types of visas which will be made available via online application. Thai Immigration officials have apparently noted that further information regarding specific aspects of the proposed e-visa program will be available in upcoming announcements.

On a regional level, many officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed a desire to promulgate a pan-ASEAN visa scheme which would allow holders of such visas to gain admission to multiple ASEAN countries on one travel document. As of now, the prospect of a single ASEAN visa scheme is still being discussed.

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17th April 2010

In previous posts, this author has discussed visa runs and border runs. Another common method of obtaining lawful status in the form of a Thai visa is by traveling to Thai Embassies and Consulates outside of the Kingdom of Thailand. This can be a difficult endeavor for some, but the difficulty can be increased as Embassies and Consulates change their internal rules frequently. This is a by-product of doctrines similar to that of Consular Absolutism also known as Consular NonReviewability. This doctrine states, in a nutshell, that Consular Officers are given wide latitude to use their own discretion when making factual determinations about visa issuance.

Recently, this author has learned that the Royal Thai Embassy Kuala Lumpur will no longer issue the 1 year multiple entry Thai business visa to those with a work permit that is valid for less than 7 months. In the past, it was routine to see the 1 year Thailand business visa issued to those with a valid work permit regardless of the duration of its validity. Now, it seems that only a 90 day business visa will be granted to those with a Thai work permit that is valid for less than 7 months.

In recent years, the Thailand work permit and the Thailand visa have been effectively “decoupled” in the sense that one is no longer necessarily dependent upon the other. For a long period of time one had to have a work permit in order to obtain a Thai visa extension. Once that extension was obtained one needed to then extend the work permit so that the two documents’ validity were in sync. This has changed as the Ministry of Labour is more apt to grant a 1 year work permit to first time applicants and then the applicant can easily obtain a visa extension. The side effect of this system is that Thai Embassies and Consulates are increasingly less willing to issue one year Thai visas since their personnel view the decision regarding issuance of such a long term travel document ought to be made by the Royal Thai Immigration Police in the Kingdom of Thailand.

When analyzed, this policy makes sense as the Royal Thai Immigration Police in Thailand are often better equipped to adjudicate visa extension requests. However, there are often very compelling reasons why an applicant would wish to obtain a 1 year multiple entry visa from outside of Thailand. One notable reason, such a travel document would not require the issuance of a Thai Reentry Permit as would be necessary if a one year visa extension were issued.

It should be noted that each Thai Consular and/or Diplomatic Post has a different set of rules with regard to visa issuance so what is the rule at one post may not be the same at another.

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8th December 2009

In most jurisdictions of the United States of America driving under the influence is considered to be a very serious offense. Commonly known as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) this offense often carries with it stiff fines and penalties. In Thailand, drunk driving is illegal as well, but in some provinces enforcement of the relevant law can be spotty at best. Thaivisa.com in conjunction with The Nation Newspaper are currently reporting that Thai police are increasing their efforts in enforcing drunk driving statutes. This will likely have a major impact upon drivers in the coming weeks as there are many holidays (both western and Thai) during the month of December. As one of the penalties for drunken driving is license suspension or revocation, a brief overview of the process to obtain a Thai driving license is also appropriate.

To quote Thaivisa.com:

“The government is imposing a strict law against drunk driving, under which violators will be arrested immediately and be subject to prosecution within 48 hours, a Bangkok seminar on road safety was told yesterday.A mandatory fine of between Bt5,000 and Bt20,000 will also be imposed on convicted violators, along with the drivers’ licence being suspended for six months or forever for repeat offenders, judge Prasong Mahaleetrakool said…The law will be strictly enforced during the holiday period.”

This author is happy to see the Thai law enforcement authorities taking an active role in discouraging drunken driving. Foreigners in the Kingdom of Thailand should take note of the possibility of license revocation. Obtaining a Thai driving license can be difficult for foreign national’s as a showing of residence in Thailand is required. Residence in Thailand can be difficult to prove for foreigners as many find it difficult to be registered on a Tabien Baan (House Registration Booklet). Foreign Tabien Baans are not easily issued which is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that many of the officers working at a Thai Amphoe Office (Civil Registrar’s Office) are unaccustomed to issuing them. That being said, registration on a Tabien Baan is not the only method of proving residence and once the foreign national demonstrates his or her residence is in Thailand, then it may be possible to obtain a Thai drivers license. In Thailand, separate licenses are issued for cars and motorcycles. This system is similar to most jurisdictions the USA except that Thai officers at the Transportation office actually issue these two licenses on two different cards rather that putting all of the information on one document.

Since driving while intoxicated could lead to the loss of a foreign national’s Thai driving license, it is both wise and prudent for a foreigner to refrain from drinking and driving in the Kingdom of Thailand. Foreign nationals should also note that a drunk driving offense could also lead to the loss of one’s Thai visa as Royal Thai Immigration authorities would probably take a dim view of one who violates the laws of the Kingdom while in the country on a Thailand visa. Those with a Thai fiancee who is the proposed beneficiary of a K1 visa would also be wise in explaining that a drunken driving charge may have an adverse impact upon her ability to obtain this fiancee visa as the US Embassy takes a dim view of criminal convictions when adjudicating visa applications.

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5th December 2009

Work Permits can be a major issue for those engaging in non-recreational activity in Thailand. Thaivisa. com is reporting that some of those involved with the King’s Cup Regatta were worried that the Ministry of Labour and the Royal Thai Immigration Police may crackdown on foreigners participating in the Regatta. The reason for the possible crackdown was supposedly to be due to unsanctioned employment-like activity. Fortunately, as Thaivisa.com is reporting, rumors of a crackdown are unfounded as authorities have stated that no sailors will be detained for work permit violations connected with the event.

Quoting Thaivisa.com:

Rumors of an imminent crackdown on foreign sailors taking part in the King’s Cup Regatta over work permit violations are untrue, the head of Phuket Immigration has confirmed. A thread on the popular Thai Visa web forum yesterday started with the post:  ’Latest from Phuket Town… raiding King’s Cup regatta tomorrow for professional sailors without work permits….’ As Immigration Police would have to play a role in any such crackdown, the Gazette contacted Phuket Immigration Police Superintendent Col Chanatpol Yongbunjerd to see if the rumor was true; it wasn’t, and isn’t. ‘I guarantee that such arrests won’t happen,’ he said.”

Although it may seem trivial, some officials take work permit violations very seriously. As a result, some activities which foreigners consider to be “non-employment,” are used as a basis for fining or detaining individuals in the Kingdom for violations of Thai Labor law.

Immediately following the relatively recent Tsunami in Southern Thailand, many volunteers arrived to assist in relief efforts. Some of these volunteers were disturbed to be informed by Thai authorities that they were in violation of Thai labor regulations. To quote Thailandqa.com:

“‘More than 1,000 foreign volunteers from about 25 countries helping tsunami survivors rebuild shattered lives were outraged yesterday to hear they face legal action by the Labour Ministry unless they have a work permit. Sombat Boonngam-anong, director of the Chiang Rai-based Krajok Ngao Foundation, said confusion and anger reigned among the foreign volunteers at Khao Lak in Phangnga’s Takua Pa district when a Labour Ministry official told a local English-language newspaper that they were required to register with the ministry for a work permit otherwise legal action would be taken against them starting March 1.’ — Bangkok Post, 2nd March 2005, PENCHAN CHAROENSUTHIPAN”

Normally, in order for a foreign national to obtain a Thai work permit the applicant must also present a validly issued Thai visa. Many Thailand visa categories enable the bearer to apply for a work permit. However, the most optimal visa category to support a work permit is the business visa. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to obtain a Thai business visa from a Thailand Embassy or Consulate abroad and therefore many opt to stay in Thailand on tourist visas or exemption stamps. Neither of these documents, on their own, can be used as a basis for submitting a Thai work permit application. Therefore, those wishing to work in the Kingdom should seriously consider applying for a proper visa prior to arrival.

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