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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsFor Illegal Foreigners in Thailand, "Big Joke" Is No Laughing Matter

For Illegal Foreigners in Thailand, "Big Joke" Is No Laughing Matter

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the newly-created Immigration Chief in the Kingdom here; that is so called “Big Joke”, Surachate Hakpal or “Big Joke” and why are we discussing him? Well he has made some serious changes to the way that Immigration issues are enforced in Thailand as we have discussed at length in prior videos on this channel.

The Immigration enforcement apparatus has radically changed compared to times past. They are actively seeking out those who are illegally entering the kingdom, those who are illegally staying in the Kingdom, those who are using false documentation to obtain extensions in the Kingdom, those who are in sham marriages in the Kingdom; even ED Visa holders have been targeted in what were believed to be pretextual education visas for those who were not actually attending any sort of academic curriculum here in the Kingdom. Those folks have been gone after here in years past.

But a few recent stories have come to my attention, some of which I have done other videos on contemporaneously to this video, but two more directly sort of in my opinion target the type of Paradigm we are dealing with when it comes to not only this gentleman in particular, and I believe he is definitely sort of “by the book”; his philosophy is very “by the book” with respect to Immigration, but also I think that this philosophy is more and more becoming very prevalent in the Immigration apparatus as a whole. So I felt that these couple of articles here were worth mentioning because they show a real paradigm shift in my opinion with respect to these things.

So the first one is from the Bangkok Post, The headline: “Big Joke” Targets Foreign Lady who Griped about Bell Ringing”. As just sort of a back story here, there apparently was a foreign woman who basically took up a condo, took up residence if you will; I don't know temporarily or permanently or prospectively permanently, in a condo next to a temple. The temple had bells and would frequently ring the temple bells on a daily basis and apparently this individual made a complaint with respect to this, I don't know to whom exactly, but presumably to building management or somebody else and it kind of caused something of an uproar; or a little bit of a local uproar. 

That being said, that is not really the point of what we're getting at in this video. What is interesting to note are the following quotes: “Officers are approaching the issue with Section 38 of the Immigration Act in mind,” he said. This is “Big Joke”, the Major General I discussed a moment ago. “A lessor is required by law to inform Immigration Officers when a foreigner resides in his or her property. Failure to comply with the law will incur punishments.” he said. “The foreign resident is also subject to inspection”, Police Major General Surachate added. “His or her whereabouts must be the same as the one that they give to the Officers. Violators of this law will have their visas revoked and be deported back to their country,” added Police Major General Surachate. So this is an issue. We have discussed it a little bit on this channel in another video; Notification of Address. There is a notification form from Thai Immigration for not only a landlord but also for a non-immigrant in the Kingdom. Those who are permanent residents or Thai citizenship it doesn't really pertain to them, but non-immigrants have to go ahead and report their whereabouts, at least their whereabouts in a 24-hour capacity. So if you are staying someplace essentially overnight, that has to be noted with Immigration. This has substantial impact or ramifications for guest houses and things; these rules. The thing that I thought was interesting about this particular article was that they even brought this up at all. In the past, this  was something that the enforcement of which, I won't say it was overlooked, but clearly wasn’t the case but it clearly was not prioritized; it was not something that the Immigration apparatus went out of their way to go ahead and sort of track down and deal with. As my producer for these videos noted, there has even being anecdotal evidence come out that as a result of some of this, the upshot has been various and sundry condominium complexes, places where people stay etc. are not allowing  foreigners to enter the premises until they provide a passport copy or something like that. Whether or not this hangs around as a day to day sort of new practice and custom, I don't know, but it is interesting to note that in the current climate and the current Head of Immigration takes that matters seriously enough to be quoted on the record as noting that it can be an issue.

Moving forward, another article from the Chiang Rai Times, that is, the title of the article is “Thailand's Immigration Arrested 59 Foreigners for Working Illegally in Bangkok”. Quoting further: “Police Bureau Chief, Police Major General Surachate Hakpal told a press briefing that 59 foreigners had been arrested by Immigration Police in Bangkok for working illegally. Some were found to have been staying in and around Soi Nana and Khaosan Road. In addition to working illegally, many of them were arrested for failing to notify the Thai authorities of their residence and disobeying the orders of the Immigration Officers. All of them will be deported”. Note: It could be a deportable offence to not notify with respect of an address. This is important stuff. If this is a new sort of phase in Immigration enforcement, address notification which was once I mean 10 years ago, I wasn't even aware it was an issue for the first couple of years I was here. If this becomes something that is going to be heavily enforced, it could change the day to day routine of many different expats. Quoting further Police Major General Surachate Hakpal said further today “he has also instructed Immigration Police to launch a crackdown on illegal migrants and Thai nominee businesses across the country”. So yet again what we are seeing here is efforts by the Immigration apparatus to more stringently apply the laws with respect to Thai Immigration. To more heavily enforce those laws, or I should say maybe more proactively enforce those laws and I think we are probably not going to see this sort of relax anytime soon.  If anything, I think probably the implementation of these kinds of things is going to have a more permanent lasting impact when compared with certain sort of immigration, for lack of a better term kerfuffles, in the past. Every now and again you would see Immigration things kind of rise up and cause a bit of sensation and then it would sort of subside. I don't think that is going to happen here. I think if anything, I think “Big Joke” is very serious about enforcing these laws, rules and I think we're going to see more inspections more scrutiny just across the board.

So those who are watching this video, take heed because I think that this is probably a trend that is going to be with us for a long time to come but we will keep you posted if any should change.