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Phuket Immigration responds over visa extension scam

Phuket Immigration responds over visa extension scam

PHUKET: More than 60 foreigners have been left in the lurch by a visa service company taking money from foreigners but failing to have their visas extended.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Tuesday 28 June 2022, 11:49AM

Some of the foreigners have been waiting for more than three months, reported Kim Shanti, of Shanti’s Lodge in Chalong, who has been assisting the foreigners with their claims as a “co-ordinator”.

Many of the foreigners have now filed complaints with Phuket City Police.

Fearful of their immigration status, some of the foreigners have been reluctant to report their predicament to immigration, Ms Shanti said.

Ms Shanti, who has lived in Phuket for decades, explained that many of the foreigners were initially stuck in Phuket due to the pandemic and had turned to using the visa service company to help them obtain their visa extensions.

However, many of them are now left with no immigration stamps confirming that they may continue to stay in the country. Many of them still have not had their passports returned.

Ms Shanti has been instrumental in helping the foreigners understand local legal processes. “Some of the people who reported this to police were not aware that the officer only recorded their statements in the daily record log,” she explained.

As far as the police were concerned a formal complaint had yet to be filed, Ms Shanti added.

Ms Shanti appealed to the media to highlight the issue, as now formal complaints have been filed, but still, no action has been taken against the visa agency.

“Thailand is open, and tourists are ready to travel to Thailand. But there are some people who do bad things like this. I don’t think it’s okay,” she said.

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Phuket City Police Chief Col Sarawut Chuprasit told The Phuket News that police were aware of the incident and that he had contacted Phuket Immigration about the visa agency.

“We have done a preliminary check and coordinated with the Phuket Immigration Chief about this case. We have held discussions with the relevant departments and commanding officers, and the conclusion is that tourists must apply for a visa extension at the immigration office in person,” he said.

“Ensuring that your visa is current and valid is a responsibility that every tourist should know. In the event that the visa or extension is about to expire, you must hurry to contact the immigration office to submit your application to extend your stay," he added.

“In the event that a tourist has claimed to have been deceived, the police will conduct an investigation. If a tourist has been scammed, we will prosecute the agency and ensure that the tourist recovers any monies paid as well,” Col Sarawut said.

“However, I would like to emphasise that tourists must be aware of how long they are allowed to stay in Thailand, and when their visa is about to expire they have to go to Immigration in person and apply to have their visa extended,” he repeated.

Phuket Immigration last night issued a notice urging any foreigners affected by a visa broker or visa renewal agency, by taking their passports, and their money, but failing to have their visa stays extended on their behalf to contact the Phuket Immigration Help Center at 086-4077763 or 076-221905 ext 10.

The notice asks foreigners to have the following documents prepared before contacting the Help Center:

  • Passport or copy of passport
  • Evidence of action against the company/agent about the visa
  • Evidence of legal proceedings such as documents, reports etc (if any)
  • Other related information

Foreigners may file a formal complaint through the hotline or make an appointment to receive assistance.

Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin

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Capricornball | 30 June 2022 - 15:23:55

@Dekass...I'm lazy...hate the traffic...but also Scotch, and was curious as to why such a simple task would be so much, if only to simply process paperwork.  I have done it myself for the past 10+ years, and thought I didn't want to be arsed with it...so I asked.  My Scotchness took over, so I did it myself and was done in about 45 minutes...but still hated the drive.

DeKaaskopp | 30 June 2022 - 11:02:14

@Capricornball  There are two kind of people using those services. The dodgy ones as mentioned by Fascinated and the lazy ones ! What   type are you ?

Kurt | 30 June 2022 - 10:11:57

After reading comment of Capricornball I understand that the Immigration miss out more than 60 x 5,000B 'service fee' from agents. That is more than B 300,000 under the table.
Sure the Immigration Chief is not smiling like the Police Chief on the photo. Investigating 'agents' will stir up a lot of money details. And questions, that visa holders not report in person to Immigration.

maverick | 29 June 2022 - 08:30:55

these agents are the vehicle of corruption at Immigration some of these 'tourists' will not be legal anyway or why use an agent in the first place they are welcome at immig as they come bearing gifts which is why they will never be regulated

Nasa12 | 29 June 2022 - 07:24:24

Well everyone knows that those who use these visa offices do not get visas legally.  Which is retirement, Ed and of course criminals.  These visas cost from 40,000 to 100,000 baht for 1 year.  So where does the money go?  for and get these 1 year visas in the passport.

Capricornball | 28 June 2022 - 22:14:42

@Agogo...I made an inquiry with a visa service that quoted me 25,000 baht.  I asked for a breakdown of why it costs so much since I didn't need them arranging for bogus financial documents. They responded with a breakdown that included a 5,000 baht Immigration "service fee".  The agent told me this is a bribe to ramrod the application through. Corruption at its most base level.

Fascinated | 28 June 2022 - 22:10:19

Why do people bother with visa companies unless they are dodgy? 10 years of retirement permits @ 1900 baht and I've never had a problem. Since permits are in Room 101 it hasn't taken me more than 10 minutes, dependent on how many in front of me. Agents are just a rip off for those intimidated by immigration.

agogohome | 28 June 2022 - 13:22:52

If the immigration department insists foreigners extend their visas IN PERSON (at the office), why do they even entertain the presence of agents in the office? 

Kurt | 28 June 2022 - 12:19:47

Since when have people in person to visit immigration?
We all see, with a number in our hand, lining up for being processed, 'agents' not lining up , just overtake us by marching into office with a pile of applications without the passport owners. This must be a under de table arrangement between Immigration and 'agents' I understand now after reading that Immigration 'CONCLUS...

Kurt | 28 June 2022 - 12:11:06

When people go to police, they not expect their complain about something serious like this only be logged and further nothing. For what when police not inform them how to make a 'formal' complain? Such a lazy dumb apathic police handling.


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