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Worse to Come in Immigration Crackdown

Worse to Come in Immigration Crackdown

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
PHUKET: Koreans are the first group that appears to be suffering heavily under a crackdown on Thailand's visa runners that seems likely to send some Phuket-based minivan companies broke.

Confusions about the new rules governing cross-border renewals leaves Phuket visa-run companies trying to explain to customers a system that hasn't been explained to them, a Phuketwan survey reveals.

Phuketwan first exposed the dramatic change in approach on Phuket and nationwide in a May 5 article headlined: Phuket Visa Run Crackdown Applies Across Thailand: Expat Criminals Are the Target.

As other media pursued the story, more facts have surfaced - along with some bizarre red herrings.

The move, we believe, is designed to clear out of Thailand the thousands of expats who come as tourists then stay on to work illegally in jobs connected to time share touting or similar occupations. Some of them become involved in petty crime or worse.

If the move is extended to education visas and other ''soft'' forms of entry and re-entry, many more expats are likely to be exposed as part of Phuket's fun-in-the sun underbelly, tourists who stay on to play, and earn what money they can any way they can.

For now, confusion has followed the haphazard imposition of the new enforcement options at border crossing points.

Managing director Phossanath Sirivajiirabhakdi of Phuket Visa Run said that last year, the extra 15 days for tourists available at border points was extended to 30 days for seven countries; Japan, Italy, France, Britain, Germany, the US and Canada.

''Then this year,'' he said, ''suddenly we have new arrangements. So what exactly is the detail? We haven't seen anything in writing yet and when customers question us, we can't provide the answers.''

There were already many discrepancies in the system, depending on which border crossing was used for a re-entry run, he said.

''At Ranong [the border crossing north of Phuket] People from the Philippines, Russia and Korea have to pay 200 baht extra that they do not have to pay down south, at the Malaysian border.

''This is the same as the $10 charged on the Burmese side in addition to all the other costs, and for which there is never a receipt.''

Confusion was not being helped by the authorities, he said. ''Nobody can explain what is happening yet we are expected to answer the questions from customers.''

He said there was a Frenchman last week who crossed into Burma at Ranong using a non-B visa. When asked to produce his work permit on returning to Thailand, he could not: ''He wasn't allowed back in.'' [It's believed the Frenchman subsequently negotiated a solution.]

''The crackdown is going to affect people without work permits, that's for sure,'' Khun Phossanath said. ''Officials are checking work permits as well.''

Pressure is likely to be intensified at Thai embassies in countries neighboring Thailand as numbers of panicking expat residents try to achieve legitimacy any way they can.

Some countries' citizens have already felt the full impact of the crackdown, said Threerapong Tanrot of Phuket's Phen Phet Visa Run. ''Koreans are especially having problems,'' he said.

''The Koreans came in sizeable numbers to Phuket before the Russians. They set up restaurants, tour agencies and souvenir shops. But they cannot return to Thailand more than three times. This is most likely in response to the situation in Korea, where Thai residents are asked to pay an extra 8000 baht each.

''Before when you went to the [Burma] border you got three months, three months, three months. After that they dropped the arrangement to an extra 15 days. Of course, the number of visa runners has dropped.

''We don't have any clear indication of what needs to done now. We hope it comes soon.''

A spokesperson for a third visa run company confirmed that numbers had dropped dramatically and that the pressure was on Koreans especially. ''They have to fly out,'' she said.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Koreans get 90 days visa exempt already. So it is safe to assume that Koreans doing an 'out-in' borderrun for anopther 90 days are not here on tourist purposes.

Posted by stevenl on May 14, 2014 11:18


On a well known discussion forum, it is generally scoffed at that WP are required upon re entry on a B visa. Guess what..guys [italics]-if you are residing on a B, you're gonna need to take that WP with you on your next 90 day border stamp run.

Posted by The Night Mare on May 14, 2014 11:35


Don't worry. All will go back to normal once the Visa-run employees block the airport road and demand the right "to support their families".

Posted by sir burr on May 14, 2014 12:18


Thailand must be ready for the ASEAN Economic Community opening on December 31st, 2015 and it is being reinforcing regulations and laws such as:
- Conditions for visa-runs, retiree visa and all companies that are offering the Bt800,000 bank guarantees.
- Work-permits for foreigners or crackdown on illegal foreign workers.
- Thai companies with foreign shareholders using Thai nominees as proxy shareholders to control in full those companies.

Clever foreigners willing to avoid the hassle to renew visa at border prefer to set up a "Ghost Thai Company" with Thai nominees as shareholders and get no problem to get Visa (B) with rogue accounting or lawyer offices.

Within 2-3 weeks and 40,000 Baht you have a legal Thai company and a work-permit and many foreign dive Instructors are using that way to stay and work in Thailand

Those foreign dive Instructors have legal companies set up with forged official documents to declare their Thai nominee partners and assets.

Policemen or any Thai Administration is bound by duty to control foreign dive instructors at Chalong Pier, marinas, aboard dive boats on dive sites, or at any dive center premises.

Instead of pocketing bribes, they should have investigated much more deeply whether or not all dive companies employing those foreigners are operating according to Thai law such as:
1/- If they have true Thai partners (51% for a Thai company or 70% in the case a Thai company is owning a transport boat/ dive boat). In that case the company must have the proof of payments with bank statements from those Thai partners that they are not sitting-partners as Thai nominees as it is in most of the case with foreign-owned dive centers.
2/- If they have enough invested capital (1 up to 2 Million Baht per work-permit depending of Limited Partnership or Company Limited) to get the issuance of a valid work-permit.
2/- If they have true 2 Thai Directors for 1 alien Director and not 2 Thai nominees as Thai Directors.
3/- If they have proof of full payments of monthly salaries to Thai staff declared on the company. The ratio official in Thailand to get a work-permit is 4 Thais for 1 foreigner for a Company Limited and 2 Thais for 1 foreigner for a Limited Partnership. Ratio is divided by half if the foreigners is legally married with a Thai spouse.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 14, 2014 13:46


Why would anyone on a 1 year cat b visa have to do a visa ru anyway? Just get an extension of stay at the Phuket immigration office and go back every 90 days.

Posted by phuket madness on May 14, 2014 13:51


That is necessary,,,they do what authorities are supposed to do! Otherwise it is soon a new VILD WESTERN, normal tourists are also a target at customs, and that is embarrisshing us, normal, long stay tourists!'

Posted by Anonymous on May 14, 2014 14:04


"Why would anyone on a 1 year cat b visa have to do a visa ru anyway? Just get an extension of stay at the Phuket immigration office and go back every 90 days."
First year, so with visa, requires exiting and returning every 90 days, so with visa. After 1 year the visa can be extended for 1 year.

Posted by stevenl on May 14, 2014 14:30


I'm all for this crackdown. Phuket is full of grifters of various nationalities who shouldn't be there. Who wants to be hounded by some farang scal selling time share?

Posted by Arun Muruga on May 14, 2014 14:41


Simply put, it will mean that nearly all those long stay tourists who come to Thailand to escape colder climes and enjoy winter warmth and sports will no longer come. Could anyone be brave enough to forecast the loss of income to the country? Such tourists, and there are many, will not put up with the hassle. Thailand's loss is a gain for its neighbours.

Posted by Pete on May 14, 2014 15:54


@The Night Mare.. if you have a work permit then you don't need to do visa runs ("90 day border stamp run").. you report to local immigration office every 90 days..

Posted by another steve on May 14, 2014 17:41


"Simply put, it will mean that nearly all those long stay tourists who come to Thailand to escape colder climes and enjoy winter warmth and sports will no longer come."

They can get a visa.

Posted by stevenl on May 14, 2014 18:02


Sure they can, but the maximum is 90 days from the Thai Embassy in their home country. After 90 days they must leave the country for another Thai Embassy in order to extend their visa.

Posted by Pete on May 14, 2014 19:17


"Sure they can, but the maximum is 90 days from the Thai Embassy in their home country"

Double entry visa can give 2x 90 days, triple entry (not easy to obtain these days but can be done) even 3x 90 days.

Surely enough for tourists.

Posted by stevenl on May 14, 2014 20:30


Stevenl :
Double entry means what it says ??? you have to enter the country twice.
Re-Entry Permit Requirements for Thai Tourist Visas:
A re-entry permit allows you to leave Thailand for a brief period to travel to another country and then re-enter Thailand on the same visa. You neither forfeit the days remaining on your original single entry tourist visa nor do you have to pay for a new 60 day tourist visa. However, you must apply for a re-entry permit at a Thai Immigration Office before you leave the country, so plan your travelling schedule accordingly.

Posted by Pete on May 14, 2014 21:16


Well the good news would be that there will be fewer kamikaze minibus drivers on the road north.

Posted by John on May 14, 2014 22:30


Worse to Come. No. Best to come, likely to send some Phuket-based minivan companies broke. Yipeeeee kai yay. Anything that gets more of these Toyota Hiace . . . ( High Impact Asian Culling Equipment ) machines off our island roads the better. Then we can at least not read about death and carnage on the roads, every damn day. Just remember Visa Runners, adhere to the law, or the law will adhere to you.

Posted by DuncanB on May 15, 2014 00:16


re-entry permits are only valid for visa extensions. Please don't confuse the issue at hand with con-applicable comments.

Posted by stevenl on May 15, 2014 06:51


I fully agree with stevenl. This is not an issue concerning tourists AT ALL. Real tourists don't give a damn about the crack down on people abusing the visa free system Thailand generously offers tourists. Indeed any real tourist would probably wholeheartedly agree with this new policy. Plus, like stevenl wrote, you CAN get a longer term tourist visa in your home country without much hassle at all. People are always eager to involve tourism because it attracts a lot of comments and upset feelings when in fact this is not a tourism issue at all. It's about people working and living in Thailand illegaly, abusing the system

Posted by christian on May 15, 2014 11:08


I agree 100%. This is my 30th year of long stay trips to Thailand and I've never had a problem with immigration. I pay $45 for my 2 month visa and can extend it another 30 days if needed. Thailand has a very open and fair system. Try getting into Australia on a tourist visa if your Thai. They treat you like a leper.

Posted by Arun Muruga on May 15, 2014 14:45


Sorry Stevenl but you're wrong. I obtained a 3 month Cat B visa in Nov 2010, before it expired in Feb 2011 i applied for a 1 year extension of stay and i have never had to leave the country since that date.

Posted by phuket madness on May 15, 2014 16:03


Even when you try to do every thing right it doesn't work . I own a condo car motor bike have a Thai fiancee , millions of baht invested and millions spent over the years visiting Thailand . I have been issued with a one year multiple entry non immigrant o visa for the last 15 years from the consulate in Hull UK .Now all the consulate have been stopped from issuing them and only the embassy in London can issue non immigrant visas . I can supply ownership papers for condo bank accounts to show I have more than enough to support myself . I have a ticket booked next month to visit Thailand for three months and all I can have is a 60 day tourist visa . Not sure whether to get single entry then a border run but with the crackdowns will I be stopped from re entering for my final 30 days . When you invest a lot of money in a holiday home in a country surely its not unreasonable to have a visa with a extended amount of time to spend in it . When I mentioned this to the embassy staff the answer was marry your Thai fiancee or wait till you are 65 and we will be happy to issue the visa .

Posted by bill1960 on May 16, 2014 02:13


Bill1960, your 60 day tourist visa can be extended for another 30 days at Immigration in Phuket Town, thereby giving you 3 months without having to leave the country- it's hardly a great hassle.

Alternatively if you are over 50 why not get a retirement visa with a single or multi entry permit next time you are here- spend B1900 for the visa and B3800 for a multy reentry permit. No need to use an expensive visa service. Less than B5000 baht a year for flexible travel in and out would suit you and ring fencing sufficient funds does not appear to be an issue for you reading your comments.

Posted by Mister Ree on May 16, 2014 09:40


Long time ago I used to see Residency Permit fee listed as BT 191.500 in the old immigration office.

I wonder if anyone has recently managed to obtain one and what was needed to succeed in that ?

Posted by ThaiMike on May 16, 2014 14:00


Only more or less 230 foreigners (Westerners & Asians) got it in Phuket.
I am one of few of them and one of my friend did his application last December and yesterday during the meeting with Bangkok Immigration, the Officer in charge said him that the new big boss requests a full understanding of speaking Thai for all new applicants.
Immigration website (Residency Permit):
do not take a lawyer to apply for you as it is a waste of money and time.
Go straight to Bangkok Immigration with all required documents.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 16, 2014 17:31


Phuketmadness is right. You can extend 90 day single entry B visas as well. I once extended a non-immigrant (B) single entry (90 day) visa for 1 year, then another 1 year. It's not necessary to get the 1 year first, but a lot of people do that, especially people in the dive industry who set up their own companies to obtain a WP, as it is harder, but not impossible, to get a 1 year non-B or 1 year extension with a new company. As mentioned, one does not need to leave the country during the 1 year extension.

I was just in the states and my new WP was not ready before I left. All I had was the WP3 receipt, not even a letter from labour. Somehow I managed to get a 1 year multiple entry business visa (Using a consulate near your local address, make an appointment and appear in person, and dress sharply helps) which actually gets me 15 months (doing visa runs to the boarder every 90 days of course) but I can also extend it 1 year at the end of the 15 months if my company will support the tougher requirements needed for the 1 year extensions.

Posted by NomadJoe on May 16, 2014 17:36


Another Steve,
I must disagree. On a B visa, with a WP, from my own company with two full-time employees, (that I pay over twice the minimum wage, hence cannot afford the minimum 4 employees it takes for a one-year extension from local immigration,..) I have to leave every 90 days for a lousy border stamp and obtain a new B yearly.
Instead of encouraging slave driving employers, with 4 poorly paid workers- why not have a minimum total wage and allow companies to have some leeway on how much we pay a worker. i.e. thb 36,000/ month for one, or four... Poorly paid workers are a detriment in every way to my business, and an unfair disadvantage.

Posted by The Night Mare on May 17, 2014 17:36

Editor Comment:

Except that supporting four families is better than supporting two, which is logical.


Why would someone on B visa do a Visa run? There are Tax exemptions for B visa's holders doing visa runs. Additionally if you work for a MNE and have to make frequent trips to head office, you do not have to get an exit permit @1,900 baht which you can not get at the airport anymore. Worse case you have to do a visa run, the good thing, you do not pay tax unless your a company owner

Posted by Jon Gibbons on May 20, 2014 20:45


WOW! It's really amusing reading the misconception of immigration rules by people posting comments. Almost all the advice is wrong, ill advised - or just plain stupid. You guys need to get your facts right before hitting the keyboard!

Posted by agogohome on May 23, 2014 15:50


to Bill 1960. You will not have any problem extending your Tourist 60 day visa by 30 days. That can be done at Phuket Town Immigration Office or the Patong office on Beach Road. You do not have to leave the country.

You should consider applying for an Investment Visa. You will need to prove you have 10 Million Baht, in assets or cash,invested in Thailand and if you can you will be granted a 1 year visa. You will have to apply for a re-entry permit, multiple or single,if you wish to come and go from the country and report every 90 days to an Immigration office.

Posted by seht1912 on May 25, 2014 14:35


To Bill 1960 and Seth 1912 :
Investment Visa

The applicant must have a non-immigrant O visa and must have evidence of:

1. Bringing B10 million into Thailand
2. Having bought or rented a condo for no less than 3 years, issued by a relevant agency or government, at a purchase price or rent of no less than B10 million
3. Having invested in a fixed deposit, no less than B10 million in a bank registered in Thailand with Thai nationals holding more than 50% of its shares
4. Proof of investing in government state enterprise bonds for B10 million or more
5. Combination of 1 - 4 acceptable.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on May 28, 2014 13:52


not only koreans, a lot of indians and other nationalities also working without work permit holding student ,and retirement visa.Especially in Bangkok, particularly silom area , a lot of indians working or doing business in Jewelry malls or selling gemstones on the roadside to tourists, some open jewelry showroom without workpermits,and not paying any taxes to the government , they don't employ Thai workers, importing their own nationals to work as a salesman, so all part of Thailand a lot of foreigners working illegally without work permits ,these people not run for a visa, but using their Student visa and retirement visa to stay in the kingdom to earn a lot of money without paying taxes.

Posted by asani on July 13, 2014 09:41


hi there.. pls someone advice. my fiancee will be working in phuket soon and iam planning to go with him to stay in phuket. what kind of visa should i apply as we r only getting married next year. ( im malaysian btw)

Posted by flyfly on July 26, 2014 16:06


flyfly, a Thai visa would probably be best.

Posted by Manowar on July 27, 2014 18:28


As soon as , If no crackdown by Thai authorities against the illegal Foreign workers and Foreigners working without work permit, they always find a way to obtain visa to stay in Thailand, and they will Continue their Jobs in Thailand.Forever. According to my opinion this is an unstoppable Issue for at this Moment.

Posted by Asani on January 30, 2015 07:34

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