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Sham Thai Marriages and Thai Marriage Visas

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, we're going to be following up on a previous video we did involving sham Thai marriages and the increasing scrutiny that's being, sort of, brought to bear with respect to Thai marriage visas. As I've stated before anecdotally, it came to my attention that last year there were actually a few just flat-out refusals to renew marriage visas on a couple of different individuals who were in Thailand on marriage visas. And it's also come to my attention that in recent months and years, Thai marriage visas generally the applications associated therewith are more heavily scrutinized to the point that there's even surprise inspections at residential addresses to ascertain whether or not the couple in question is in fact cohabiting etc.

A recent article that came to my attention from the Buriram Times, it was published July 8th 2017. The headline is “Immigration busts a ring of African and Afghan men paying 5,000 Baht for Thai wives.” To quote directly from this article, “Thai immigration in Bangkok have entrapped a gang of Nigerians and Afghans who were paying Thai women to marry men so they could get long term visas for Thailand.” They advertised for Thai women on Facebook paying just 5,000 Baht a time to register marriages. Apparently this came and I'm ceasing to quote here.

Apparently, this came about after a significant number of individuals in a singular sort of a radius of a very small area began to seek single status notification or affidavits of single status like over a hundred asked for within a relatively short period of time within a relatively geographically small area. The reason I bring this story up is not so much for the story itself but stories like this when this type of thing happens it brings to light or perhaps I should say, it causes a practical evolution in regulatory agencies, law enforcement bureaucracy, however you want to see it in a system’s ability to gauge the likelihood of sham marriages, okay specifically in this case.

But just in general, there is sort of an evolution of bureaucracies. They grow and they, sort of, almost as a system, they learn over time and this this is one of those scenarios that probably will act as something of a learning curve to immigration officials here in Thailand. I think some of the practical implication of this over the course of the next call of 6 to 12 months will be that I think that further scrutiny is going to be brought to bear on applicants for Thai marriage visas of any nationality, quite frankly. Because when this stuff happens, as I discussed with the Trump travel ban in the United States, these sort of policies or this sort of policy thinking tends to be fairly broadly based. It doesn't tend to, people don't just tend to say “well we're going to focus on Nigerians and Afghans.” That's probably not what is going to happen.

What will happen is a more broadly applied scrutiny and perhaps more stringently applied investigative tactics are going to be used as a result of this. And the reason for that is it's simply easier to more broadly apply policy than to specifically apply policy because in order to specifically apply policy requires a level of analysis that may not be possible on a day to day level boost on the ground dealing with immigration. What are we talking about here? Well a lot of folks think that somebody in my position would have sort of some antagonism or something toward the immigration officers. It's quite the opposite. I'm actually rather sympathetic toward the stuff that they have to put up with in their day to day. They process a lot of cases. They deal with a lot of folks. They quite frankly are empowered and in certain cases mandated to say no and quite frankly, most people don't like to say no. And the only reason I bring this up with respect to this Nigerian Afghan sham marriage ring, I think that it's very possible to see that stuff like this will get apply, more generally more broadly across the board simply because it's easier and it's more efficient for the immigration officers to just go ahead and do that. Because doing it any other way would require a significant amount of expense in resources, time and energy. And moreover, it simply just isn't how large organizations really operate.

So the reason I bring this up is understand time marriage visas although seemingly straightforward because it's just sort of like well “I'm married to a Thai” therefore I meet the general requirements of a marriage visa although there are financial requirements etcetera. But for most folks they sort of look at it in a very straightforward way, they say “I’m married to a Thai, what's the big deal?” Well as I said, in cases like this where you've got sort of bad apples, they can cause changes to the broad base thinking of officers in later applications and in later adjudication and they can result in slower processing times, more stringent scrutiny. All of these things can be stressful and frustrating for applicants for Thai visas.