Education visas are required by foreigners who want to stay in Thailand to study.
Subjects that can be studied in Phuket range from teaching of English as a foreign language (TEFL) through to Thai boxing and mixed martial arts. However, some people use this visa as simply a way to stay in the country, do not attend language classes and often find work instead.
At a meeting at Phuket Immigration yesterday (October 17), it was announced that from November 1 staff at language schools will have to fill out a new form for every student enrolling who requires an education visa.
The form is more specific than previously, and now requires details of how many language classes the student will attend per week (including days and times) and what exactly they will be learning on every given day.
Authorities plan that this new form will make it easier to monitor students who are in Thailand on the education visa but who skip classes and/or work illegally.
Last week a post was made on ThaiVisa’s web forum, with the poster, “Phronesis” (a Greek word for wisdom or intelligence), informing forum readers: “There are 42 language schools in Phuket. They are being called to a meeting with immigration on October 17.
“Immigration want to do away with the student visa because of its abuse by Russians and other foreigners working illegally on the island. So … if you are like me … and are currently staying in Phuket on a ED visa … don’t get too comfortable.”
Last week, after questions by The Phuket News, the Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, Pol Col Sanchai Chokkayaikij denied any intention by Immigration to launch a drive to find people misusing ED visas, or to stop issuing them.
At yesterday’s meeting, Col Sanchai asked for “more active cooperation” from schools when it came to the education visas.
He said the students had to attend classes, and if the students were absent more than 10 times, the schools had to inform Immigration and the visas could be cancelled. He also raised the point that people could not work legally while they were on an education visa.
He explained to the 20 or so language school representatives how to fill in the new form correctly.
Col Sanchai said he encouraged students on the education visa not to leave their extensions to the last minute. Extensions could be obtained up to 45 days before the visa expires, and the student would not lose any days of the visa.
“Immigration police have found some problem cases, where foreigners have been registered as having an education visa but are doing something else, like working. This is not correct,” he said.
Col Sanchai gave an example after the meeting about a Russian man who arrived in Thailand on January this year on an education visa.
He was later arrested in Chalong on drugs charges, and his education visa was cancelled – though the exact details of why the visa was cancelled are not known.
“This is the reason that schools should be careful about foreigners who come to study in Thailand. The school or place where they study should observe which students do not study in class, because they might be working or doing other illegal things.
“I hope this meeting will allow for more understanding about this issue for the owners of schools or places of study.”