Integrity Legal

26th Nov 2009

In recent months, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in the news as he evades requests for extradition from the Kingdom of Thailand. The website is reporting the following:

“Thaksin’s name in passports issued by Nicaragua, Uganda and Montenegro has been changed to “Takki Shinegra,” he said. The Thai government has revoked Thaksin’s diplomatic passport issued during his premiership. He was believed to have an ordinary Thai passport. Some African countries have issued him a special passport to facilitate his travels and his visit to the countries. [Vice Foreign Minister] Panich said Thaksin’s new name may cause problem for Thailand’s attempt to bring him back to face two-year jail term on charge of corruption.” [sic]

The change of Mr. Thaksin’s name is a major obstacle for those who wish to make him return to Thailand. further quotes Mr. Panich:

“Problems can happen when we ask foreign countries to extradite him. We name him in our request as Thaksin Shinawatra but when those countries check his presence, they would not find him because he used different name.” [sic]

The issue of dual nationality and different names is not exclusively the problem of Thai authorities. Many people around the world have dual nationality and in many cases, they have different names depending upon their country of Citizenship. This can create a great deal of consternation for Immigration officials.

Dual nationality is not, in and of itself, a problem for those wishing to obtain US or Thai Immigration benefits. However, it can raise many issues with regard to the identity of the individual seeking the immigration benefit. For example, if an individual is born in Hong Kong under one name, but later takes Australian nationality under another name, then that individual’s birth certificate will not likely match his or her Australian passport. This can lead to problems with Immigration authorities as two names can cause confusion and lead to increased scrutiny.

When petitioning for Immigration benefits in any country, it is often required that the applicant divulge any aliases that they may have. For those applying for a Thailand visa or an American visa this is often required and failure to note an alias could result in relatively serious sanctions.

Many countries allow their citizens to have aliases noted in their passport. For United States Citizens, this is definitely a possibility, but requires approval of  an application to have a different name noted in a US passport. For those resident in Thailand, it is possible to have an alias noted in a US passport, but one must submit an application to the Consular Officer at the American Citizen Services section of the US Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. US Embassies and Consulates elsewhere can perform this service as well. Thai Consulates and Embassies could also note aliases in one’s Thai passport, but one must check with the Consulate beforehand as not all posts are able to complete this task.

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