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Thai Visa Holders Refused Admission by Immigration

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, I'm going to briefly discuss refusal, foreigners being refused entry to the Kingdom of Thailand at the airports here. It should be noted that there's a separate topic regarding blacklisting specifically. This is slightly different and I'll explain why.

What we're talking about here is some years back, I posted it years ago on one of our website blogs that the Thai, not only immigration, but the Thai law enforcement community had essentially linked up with the U.S. criminal database system, most notably NCIC which is maintained by the United States FBI. The reason this is pertinent in this context because it's come to my attention, basically individuals contacting me on this topic. Basically, Thai immigration is refusing entry to individuals with criminal records from the United States.

These folks may have some criminal records from quite some time ago but they have criminal records nonetheless. To be clear, we're not talking about fugitives or people with fugitive warrants. We're specifically talking about those individuals who have a criminal record, who are traveling to Thailand just being refused entry to Thailand. And these folks are oftentimes kind of curious as to why this is happening.

The fundamental reason is these folks are sort of red flagged based on their criminal history but then the next question is "Why am I not allowed to come to Thailand?" Few people really understand this and take this into account. Even a visa is not a guarantee for entry to a country and Thailand is no different in this respect. So even if one is issued a valid visa to the Kingdom, immigration officials at the port of entry have a plenary authority to turn those individuals away based on their discretion. This is also something that's come up in the context of the so-called 90-day blacklisting rule where basically as long as you have not overstayed in Thailand by 90 days or more.

One is not necessarily put on the blacklist although I've also heard of individuals contacting me who have been stopped at immigration and told "Look, you have multiple overstays. They're not from more than 90 days but we're not letting you back in the country because we feel you're sort of manipulating the rules in order to stay in the country long term.

Back more to the point on refusal of entry for those with criminal backgrounds, it relates to the 90-day blacklisting thing in so far as I've had people tell me "Well, it says in their own guidelines that this is how it's supposed to be done." It may say everything in their own guidelines, also within their own ministerial regulations in their own law in the immigration laws here in Thailand, it's very clear: Immigration officers have discretion to turn away individuals they deem inappropriate for entry and that's a discretionary function. So therefore, and I don't mean to sound pessimistic for lack of better term or jaded on this topic but it's just something I've come to deal with over the years with respect to both the immigration process going to the United States and coming here in Thailand is that immigration officers are vested with a great deal of authority. And it would appear that they are, at least there's a policy and I think the policy is pretty well articulated in their slogan "Good guys in, bad guys out" where they deem those that have criminal records as people that may either be vetted more carefully and possibly not allowed in the country.

Now it's my understanding that it may be possible to remedy these issues and allow someone to gain access to Thailand but that being said, there's nothing stone with respect to these matters and it's difficult to say in the future how exactly this stuff is going to fairly operate. But it's fairly clear to me, the Thai immigration apparatus is very serious about making certain that those entering the country are not entering the country for nefarious purposes and moreover, are not entering the country with undisclosed intentions. So it appears to me that moving forward, Thai immigration's implementation of immigration law in Thailand is going to look more and more like westerner developed countries and less and less like sort of an ad hoc laissez faire system. It's going to be more structured and I think it's safe to say that the rules are going to get a little bit tighter.