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Brits arrested in Phuket international school immigration raid

Brits arrested in Phuket international school immigration raid

PHUKET: Two British nationals have been taken into custody on suspicion of working illegally following a Phuket Immigration raid at an international elementary school in Rawai.

By The Phuket News

Friday 6 November 2020, 07:04PM

Photo: The Phuket News / file

Photo: The Phuket News / file

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Nareuwat Putthawiro confirmed to The Phuket News today (Nov 6) that the two foreigners were taken into custody at the Palm House International School on Wednesday.

The two Brits have been handed over to the Chalong Police, who have been asked to investigate whether any charges should be pressed against the operators of the school, Lt Col Nareuwat said.

“The two teachers were arrested for working without a work permit. Once processed, they will be deported out of the country. Meanwhile, the owner of the school will be investigated too,” Lt Col Nareuwat added.

The raid followed a tip-off that foreigners were working illegally at the school, Lt Col Nareuwat noted.

“Both [foreigners] are British nationals,” Lt Col Nareuwat confirmed, but he declined to identify the two by name or age.

The two had originally entered the country on ‘visa exemption’ status, allowing them to stay in Thailand for 30 days.

“Their visa status does not allow them to work or perform any form of business. They were arrested as they are suspected of working without a work permit,” he repeated.

“Right now, they are being investigated and questioned by Chalong Police. Next, their case will be soon submitted to the Phuket Provincial Court. If the judge finds them guilty, they will be deported,” Lt Col Nareuwat said.

“Meanwhile, we have already asked the Chalong Police to investigate the school owner over this issue, because the school accepted foreigners to work illegally,” he added. 

The penalties for illegally hiring foreigners to work became much harsher under an Emergency Decree issued in 2017.

Pitool Dumsakorn, Chief of the Phuket Employment Office at the time, warned of the new penalties, and urged employers to not breach the employment law regarding the hiring of foreigners.

“For example, deceiving that one can bring a foreigner to work without a work permit can incur a fine from B600,000 up to B1 million and from three to 10 years in prison, or both, for each foreign worker deceived,” he said.

Further, a foreigner caught working without a work permit or working in a position prohibited to foreigners may be fined B2,000-100,000, or imprisoned up to five years, or both, Mr Pitool warned.

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The school posted a notice on its Facebook page yesterday, announcing:

A short note to our parents.

It is important to both myself and the school that you as parents are aware of the recent disruptions to the school and not be subject to wild rumours.

As you have no doubt heard we had a visit from immigration on Wednesday, unfortunately, this led to two of our teachers being interviewed for visa reasons. With all the Covid disruptions to border control and a misunderstanding regarding visas, this brought about a hiccup in our records. However, we are interviewing a potential new director on Friday, who will ensure that this type of misunderstanding never occurs again.

Yes, it has been a disruptive couple of days for both students and teachers which is truly unfortunate, these types of incidents are a part of life and we will deal with them.

Moving forward we will grow and strengthen our wonderful school, this includes opening the PIP preschool for 3-5 year olds

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to furnishing your children with the quality education they deserve, the education we can provide.

The Phuket News has received allegations that the school never applied for work permits for the teachers, and that several teachers are owed substantial amounts in pay.

The Phuket News has contacted Nicholas Parker-Smith, the director of the school, and is awaiting any further comment on the raids and the arrests.

Lt Col Nareuwat confirmed today that Phuket Immigration is still accepting applications for foreigners to change their visas status to allow the foreigner to work.

However, he said he was not aware of any application filed for the two foreigners arrested.

Lt Col Nareuwat did note,Please note that the existing visa must have at least 15 days left before it expires for us to accept the application. This is because the application is sent to Hat Yai [the regional immigration head office] for processing.

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Kurt | 07 November 2020 - 11:32:49

Read again what the unknown school 'authority' wrote: "..these types of incidents are part of life and we will deal with them".  Oh, is employing teachers illegal a incident, never applied working permits?  Is not paying, as teachers complain. their correct salaries a incident? This school management is not a 'incident', it is a structural illegal making money business. P...

Kurt | 07 November 2020 - 09:00:11

Funny, a 'lying' Facebook notice, not signed by writer. The school was trapped in illegal employing, nothing to do with 'Covid disruptions'. The teachers were not just interviewed, they were arrested! School never applied working permits, and doesn't pay teachers properly? My children not to such school where illegal activities take place to save on qualified teachers and salar...

malczx7r | 07 November 2020 - 02:22:45

My mate sent loads of information to the police and immigration and has a facebook page "foreigners working illegally in Phuket" but it was ignored by immigration? It listed loads of people shown working illegally, he did it because he was fed up of all the rules he had to jump through caused by illegal workers making things hard for legal stayers, immigration wasn't interested!

Galong | 06 November 2020 - 20:11:28

Get legal or get out! I have zero concern for anyone who works illegally in Thailand. All you're doing is making the rest of us, who go by the book, look bad. 


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