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Phuket Opinion: Thai Immigration’s forgotten expats

Phuket Opinion: Thai Immigration’s forgotten expats

PHUKET: The announcement late Friday that the Immigration Bureau will request Cabinet to extend the ‘visa amnesty’ through to Sept 26 came as welcome news to many foreign tourists, yet so far the news delivered has ignored important large segments of the expat community living in the country.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 19 July 2020, 09:00AM

Immigration Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang addresses officers at Phuket International Airport yesterday (July 18). Photo: Immigration Bureau

Immigration Bureau Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang addresses officers at Phuket International Airport yesterday (July 18). Photo: Immigration Bureau

First, let’s be clear that Immigration has no authority over visas. What they are talking about are “permits to stay”. The Phuket News uses the term “visa extensions” and “visa amnesty” as a convenience and for general public understanding. Long-term expats already know how this works, and new expats and tourists have little concept of the difference, especially when Immigration themselves use the term “visa extensions”.

With that bureaucratic idiocy out of the way, let’s get to the point, which focuses directly on the issue of permits to stay.

The announcement on Friday plainly targetted foreigners still in Thailand on tourist visas. Like Immigration was ever going to do with anything else than offer another extension. Kicking tourists out now would give Thailand the world’s worst reputation for welcoming people who came to spend money in this country.

As for the stern warning that any tourist caught staying past Sept 26 without extending their visas will be treated as criminals… well wake up immigration, those are likely to be the criminals anyway. Good people do their best to follow the law. Laws are not made for good people to follow; laws are made to protect good people from the bad. Didn’t they teach that at the Royal Thai Police Academy?

The real issue rests, as always, with what was not said in the announcement. The people they are forgetting are all the foreigners staying in the country on non-immigrant visas – Business, Education, Retirement visas and so on. In short: the entire, massive, expat community in the country.

Those foreigners staying on one-year permits to stay are likely to be unaffected by all this palaver. Yet one key section of the foreign community in Thailand plainly forgotten are all those foreigners staying on business visas who are not paid enough money to satisfy Immigration’s requirements for a one-year permit to stay.

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These are foreigners doing jobs that Thais cannot or will not do, and are not even paid enough to be honoured with the security of staying in the country for one full year without having to do a visa run. This includes people who have been issued two-year work permits.

With the information made public so far, the current scenario for these foreigners is that after July 31, they will still technically be forced to do a visa run. That is, simply leave the country and come back again for no other reason than to just satisfy the Immigration Bureau’s rules.

This stupidity must be addressed. We pray that Cabinet on Tuesday will have the sense to see this through – even if just to make sure they avoid the backlash of the more important business foreigners living in the capital.

Another sector of the foreign community entirely obliqued so far has been the expat retirees. All throughout the lockdown, these are people whose incomes have remained unchanged. They live here, they spend here. In times like these, such people are a blessing to Thailand. Let’s hope this is remembered the next time Immigration want to play games with all the reporting and health insurance requirements.


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Papa paul | 04 August 2020 - 01:02:52

A good and fair comment straight from the hip. I cannot believe all the unnecessary red tape that the Thai government have in place.  No wonder many foreigners,  even expats get legal advise to make sure they are abiding to the Law.  As yiu said, Laws are made to protect the good people but it appears that good people suffer from bad Laws.  Thank you for your well meaning comment.

Tbird | 22 July 2020 - 21:11:44

To be clear that should read beatings and murders COMMITTED by your fellow travelers. Yes there are a small percentage of bad cops, but to imply there is a systemic oppression of black Americans is a denial  of reality. And it has absolutely nothing to do with Right Wing Fundamentalists. It is The Marxist BLM and Antifa who are turning the  LIBERAL run cities of the US into Third World Cesspools.

Christy Sweet | 21 July 2020 - 10:52:53

The "nasty radical left" doesn't lock kids in cages or kneel on people's necks until death,  or strip health care from the poorest when they need it the most. That's all the work of the right wing fundamentalists. 

jealoustiger | 21 July 2020 - 00:40:16

Yes, it's sad that some countries welcome in hundreds of thousands of new citizens each year.. And Thailand doesn't do that at all. But then isn't that why we love it .. Because it would surely be ruined within 10 years otherwise? (But yes it would be nice that Thais acknowledged non-Thais as semi-citizens of Thailand more)

Tbird | 20 July 2020 - 22:58:22

Capt.Jack, if you don't like it you can always leave" should be outright banned. It's exactly that kind of racist rubbish that leads most ..." Please help me out here and explain how that comment is "racist"? OR is this forum now employing the smear tactics of America's nasty Radical Left? ( if someone disagrees with you just lash out with the old race card!)

ematt | 20 July 2020 - 20:40:00

It always makes me laugh when bottom-of-the-food-chain expats who leave their home country sit in the bar all day or buy a cow for the in-laws in Isan, and then brag about how much they are “contributing to the Thai economy”.  Foreign direct investment in Thailand in 2018 was 10 billion USD. The amount you contribute is how much??

John Paul Jones | 20 July 2020 - 20:31:48

Many expats in diving industry, restaurant owners and expats with kids in international schools have donated food baskets to locals on a regular basis. Chalong, Rawai, Kathu and Nai Harn areas are rocking. Lots of food stalls and best of local businesses have reopened. Patong, Kata and Karon are dead and expected to remain so until new travel restrictions are lifted.

DeKaaskopp | 20 July 2020 - 14:55:12

@Kurt  There are those foreigners who helped in the crisis without expecting anything in return for it. Just goodhearted people.   And there are a few foreigners who actually didn't do anything or very little,but always like to mention the goodhearted ones in order to expect respect or recognition in return. Needless to say in what category you belong.One need only to read your comment to know...

Wiesel | 20 July 2020 - 12:28:16

@Kurt: It is same like you come to Thailand.  Must have a accommodation booking or family/friends place to stay + enough money for their visit. But you always complain about. Did you ever "invite" a Thai to germany? 

Kurt | 20 July 2020 - 10:30:26

@Wolfgang0815.  There are in normal times daily plane loads of asian people visiting Schengen countries.
The requirement are clear, they must have a accommodation booking or family/friends place to stay + enough money for their visit. Both requirements count for the 'average' Thai as well of course.

Kurt | 20 July 2020 - 10:24:30

@Wolfgang0815. I personally have never problems with renewing/confirming my 1 year status or 90 days reports by drive through ( indeed just a few minutes, as I wrote too  a short while ago) . It are the other forms of Visa' and these 'visa run' nonsense.of other foreigners. 

marksailorman | 20 July 2020 - 08:12:43

It is really very simple but Immigration cannot seems to grasp it. The people are here, healthy. Why would they want to send them to the border risk possible exposure and have them come back? To be blunt it is a stupid requirement anyhow. My Thai wife applied for a U S visa, 2 trips to the embassy, 10,000 baht, multiply entry good for 10 years. She can come and go as she pleases.

Wolfgang0815 | 19 July 2020 - 21:38:17

Forgotten expats by Thai immigration? My 90 days report last week took me less than 3 minutes, I didn't even leave the car, no paperwork, no form to fill, no signature.
What more can you expect from being treated well???
Even the writer of this article should get his nose down a bit! A system is not automatically stupid, just because it is different to the system of your home country.

Wolfgang0815 | 19 July 2020 - 21:30:38

@Captain Jack:
You forgot to mention that the UK (and most other Western countries) would not even give a tourist visa to an average Thai. It is easy to give citizenship after 3 years, if you let nobody in. Did you ever try to get a work permit for a foreigner in Europe.
Try that and then complain again, if you still want.

Wolfgang0815 | 19 July 2020 - 21:24:44

Sorry Kurt, but if you are constantly treated bad by immigration, you might deserve it. I tried some years ago to get a 2 months education visa for a Thai to Austria, after 3 months and costs of EUR 2000 ( Visa fee, unused flight, etc) we didn't succeed. Friends try to apply for a tourist visa to Austria since 3 years without success. That is Schengen / Europe. Never had that stupid issue here...

Kurt | 19 July 2020 - 19:25:45

I red here a article about Thai Banks who were going to study ( in July!) how to bring some relieve among Thai people without jobs/ money to buy food. Are they already setting their 'words' in practical motion? Hello, this whole, for many thai, living disaster started months ago! Thailand for Thai is cracking in her frame. Only short sighted people can ignore the helping hand of foreigners...

Kurt | 19 July 2020 - 19:17:08

And for anti foreigner comments,  don't forget that many permanent here living retired /working foreigners have supported the unemployed/'starving' thai people around them more than the Thai government is doing so far.  A Phuket seafood festival for 'local tourism', difficult to understand by Thai who don't know in morning or they will have food in evening. 

Kurt | 19 July 2020 - 19:02:59

@Pascale, I never shared my financial status. 'Meager' writing is nonsense in the air reaction, based on nothing. For 'meager foreigners', they have that 800,000 thb in the bank beside their monthly pension income. Thai people   now without job/'starving' will not call that 'meager'.  Guess your saying is mend as piece of hatred, same as that always 'leaving adv...

Kurt | 19 July 2020 - 18:41:26

@Fascinated, you are correct.Renewing Retirement stamp +  Re-Entry stamp always goes quick and smooth. The unpleasant bureaucratic matters concerns 'short stays', business people, teachers, people married here ( still many abroad, not allowed back in this moment, project that on medical 'tourism'), the silly visa runs.

Pascale | 19 July 2020 - 17:26:15

Sorry to inform you Kurt,but they won't roll out a red carpet  for you on your next Immigration visit.And there will be no orchestra playing for you too.Your meager pension doesn't qualifies you for that.You still might think because of spending some baht you would own this country or they owe you something,but sorry, you are wrong.

Pak | 19 July 2020 - 16:07:36

@HK See the comment from CaptainJack

@DeKK Holders of a 1yr Non-Imm 'O' Multiple entry based on marriage, that's who...

As to my ?Psyche? 30 years ago I wanted to leave all your western Khrap behind - no pc, human rights, metoo, lives matter and 'it's not like that where I come from' BS. Unfortunately thousands of whiners turned up trying to change a simple, happy peo...

Grasshopper | 19 July 2020 - 15:41:15

Absolute crap.   If an individual does'nt earn enough for a work permit they shouldn't be here.   A marriage visa is less money and you can work.    Retirees, if you can't make the minimum, could be time to go home.   I know that all sounds harsh, but that's the reality.

CaptainJack69 | 19 July 2020 - 15:12:09

I've had to make this comment many times of the years but hear we go again. Anyone who posts anything in these forums that boils down to "if you don't like it you can always leave" should be outright banned. It's exactly that kind of racist rubbish that leads most Thais to believe that all foreigners are tourists.

CaptainJack69 | 19 July 2020 - 15:05:38

If a Thai gets any kind of long-term visa for the UK and manages to stay there for just 3 years then they are automatically eligible to apply for UK citizenship. That's CITIZENSHIP! Not just the unobtainable 'permanent residency' which is the most anyone here can even dream of even after living here for decades. The whole system needs a complete overhaul.

HubertK | 19 July 2020 - 14:47:21

Smug ? Thanks for that Mr.Pak. Could you explain to me what I actually said wrong ? Seems to me the current situation is taking a heavy toll on your psyche.Please relax.


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