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Phuket Opinion: Private negotiations

PHUKET: Any foreigner using a visa agent to help “facilitate” their applications at Phuket Immigration got a bullet warning this week as the waters broke over more than 100 foreigners were caught out with visa agents taking the money and failing to provide the “visa extensions”, namely extensions to permits to stay, they promised to provide.

opinionimmigrationtourism
By The Phuket News

Sunday 3 July 2022, 09:15AM


Image: Phuket Immigration

Image: Phuket Immigration

Phuket Immigration has so far made no announcements about how they are dealing with the problem other than calling the foreigners in to discuss their situation and, maybe, come up with a solution. After all, private negotiations is how they roll.

Phuket City Police Chief Col Sarawut Chuprasit has vowed to prosecute visa agents who have deceived tourists. “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,” Col Sarawut repeated in response to formal complaints against visa agents being filed at Phuket City Police Station.

That is true, but mainly only for tourists. That statement ‒ remember, coming from regular police, not Phuket Immigration Chief Col Thanet Sukchai ‒ does not account for any officers found involved in the “problem”, as if that is not possible.

Where Phuket Immigration comes unstuck is the 90-day reporting, with many of the foreigners involved long exceeding their 90-day reporting deadline. One foreigner involved, very reluctant to come forward for fear of being deported for breaching the 90-day reporting requirement, was more than a year late in reporting their whereabouts. (Note: See end of this article.**)

Either Phuket Immigration knew of the longstanding breach, and the expiration of the permit to stay, and did nothing about it, or the 90-day reporting requirement is pointless and achieves nothing.

Shifting the focus to tourists only also does not account for all the long-term expats, some with Thai families, others with businesses, and others more living and working here with their children enrolled in local schools.

According to the Immigration Bureau’s main website, the “Application must be made in person” requirement applies only two main categories of foreigners applying for an extension to stay:

Sinea Phuket
  • Visa Extension - In the case of business necessity, for example, the applicant must stay to carry out work for a company or partnership
  • Visa Extension - In the case of tourism purposes

The following is the list of visa extension types where the requirements listed do not state that the “Application must be made in person”:

  • Visa Extension - In the case of a teacher, professor, or expert in a government educational institution
  • Visa Extension - In the case of a teacher, professor, or expert in a private educational institution
  • Visa Extension - In the case of study in a private educational institution
  • Visa Extension - In the case of being a family member of an alien who has been permitted a temporary stay in the Kingdom for study in an educational institution (according to Clauses 2.8 or 2.9 hereof)
  • Visa Extension - In the case of being a family member of a Thai national
  • Visa Extension - In the case of being a family member of a Thai resident
  • Visa Extension - In the case of retirement

(See full list here.)

Phuket Immigration, and now with the assistance of Phuket City Police, pretending that they had no idea that so many foreigners had been rendered illegal by any visa agent that works so closely with local immigration officers beggars belief.

The whole situation smacks of a breakdown in the “relationship”, financial or otherwise, between the visa agents involved and the immigration officers those agents usually work with. Something has changed, while holding many foreigners to ransom without their passports.

Right now it seems Phuket Immigration is making efforts to make the problem go away as quickly and quietly as possible. After all, no one needs a closer look at the relationship between Phuket Immigration officers and visa agents, do they?


** The most recent notice posted by Phuket Immigration explaining the penalties for failure to comply with the 90-day reporting requirement was posted on Feb 14 this year. The notice made no mention of deportation. The notice, in English, in full read:

Notification of staying in the Kingdom over 90 days

  • The notification must be made within 15 days before or after 7 days the period of 90 days expires
  • If a foreigner staying in the kingdom over 90 days without notifying the Immigration Bureau or notifying the Immigration Bureau later than the set period, a fine of 2,000 Baht will be collected.
  • If a foreigner who did not make the notification of staying over 90 days is arrested, he will be fined 4,000 Baht.

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Nasa12 | 04 July 2022 - 10:15:47

How many times have PN speak whit Phuket Immigration about this residents certificate and scamming. Every time they say ooo it’s a misunderstanding, we’ll start to take up voice on your mobile and send it to news. 

Kurt | 04 July 2022 - 09:58:11

Will be not surprised if Immigration re-start that Phuket Airport '100 Baht Fast Lane' scam again during a future 'high season'. In their thinking nobody remembers anymore that is was forbidden, but we do.

christysweet | 04 July 2022 - 09:06:46

Those CRs are supposed to be free.  One wonders  if the lower level  officials are expected to 'tip' the  higher ups on a gross count for the day. Nation is beyond help in curbing corrupt practices. 

JohnC | 04 July 2022 - 09:02:17

I remember when it was several immigration officers themselves who were operating private foreign passport visa runs to the Malaysian border. Many foreigners working with no time to make the trips to the border used to give their passports to Patong immigration who would run them down over the weekends for a "fee' of course.  They got done in the end and were 'transferred' to othe...

maverick | 04 July 2022 - 06:16:28

SEC2@ complain upstairs and they will issue for you, it’s a massive scam 

SEC2 | 03 July 2022 - 15:58:46

Lady at immigration asked for 300 baht for a residents certificate for a drivers license.   I asked for a receipt and she got mad and said if I wanted a receipt I'd have to come back the next day for the document.  huh?  Always get a receipt within minutes for the 1900 THB on the annual extension.  She got her 300 baht,unfortunately.

punter | 03 July 2022 - 12:06:25

In a couple of weeks, this story will be dead and things will go back to normal. There will always be visa agents!

Kurt | 03 July 2022 - 11:07:08

All these Government bodies not even hide their criminal activities/ breaking their sworn oath. They just feel being unassailable. That says a lot.

Kurt | 03 July 2022 - 11:01:14

Nasa12, yes.  Immigration job seems to be quite lucrative. Remember the airport 'fast Immigration lane' a B100? And now this what we learn. But I think to become Immigration officer you have to 'buy' the job to get in. Perhaps must even take a loan from the bank to buy yourself in.

christysweet | 03 July 2022 - 11:01:14

I had an issue once with a French woman that ended up at Cheng-Telay police station. I told them  her visa had expired.  'No it hasn't..' they claimed. Then she got busted for working without a permit on that expired visa  and deported. There is a big  disconnect between regular police and Immigration which is why it'a a criminal's paradise. 

Kurt | 03 July 2022 - 10:19:32

More than 100? That is more than the earlier reported 'about 60'.  So, the immigration officers are still waiting for 100+ x B5,000?  ( amount what agents pay per application to Immigration officers). Wow! Yes, indeed, time worth to negotiate for/about. Probably RTP too is warming up their calculator, want also a piece of the cake.

Nasa12 | 03 July 2022 - 09:48:39

It's just to see what assets  these Immigration people have, like houses, cars, bank accounts  +++. Think  there will probably be some surprises there’s. Have se some of this one year visa from this visa office here in Phuket, and some of them are stamped in Bangkok why. 

 

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