Thailand’s Immigration Concept

There must be some 100,000 Westerners living in Thailand, either retired, working here or married with a Thai wife or just travelling or doing whatever. Thailand as a still relatively attractive country to live in has, as a state, to deal with the immigration.

So, the buerocracy brought out a number of different categories of foreigners by status who fall under different regulations. They all have one thing in common: they have to make a so called ‘visa run’ every at least three month. If one has only a tourist visa, the ‘visa run’ is due either after a fortnight, thirty days of sixty days. ‘Visa run’ means exactly to leave the country just for the only single reason to reenter it again for the purpose to get a new or refreshed visa.

Depending on where exactly the Westerners live and in which status category he (mostly ‘he’, sometimes also ‘she’) is packed in it means a considerable and perpetual annoyance. It clashes with other plannings, consumes time and money, is uncomfortable, enhances the traffic in the traffic system, fills up the passports with stamps until they are full and a new passport is due, it creates work and long lines in the embassies and, best of all, it’s completely unnecessary.

Not to mention that the very authorities change the rules from time to time and to whom it is concerned has to find that out by himself. And that leads, inquiring at the immigration offices, not seldom to contradictive informations.

Well, one problem is that in general the decision makers at the top of the social pyramid, including the state buerocracies, do not suffer the consequences of their decisions. In fact they create problems the people at the bottom of the social pyramid have to solve then – if they can. If not, they get easily criminalized.

Seemingly the Thai immigration politics lack something what could be called a ‘concept’. It’s not only superfluous to do journeys to the next country just to receive a stamp. It brings money to the neighbouring countries. From the perspective of the Thai authorities it would make sense to cash the foreigners inside the country and receive therefore a revenue. Would be bad enough. But they let it trickle to the neighbouring states who themselves charge the applicant for a fee (see the examples of Tachileik and Kawthaung in Burma/Myanmar, or the miserable example in Vientiane/Laos).

So, to conclude, there is not much of an immigration concept in Thailand.

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