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Thailand Visa and Immigration

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					Thailand Visa and Immigration Law is a hodgepodge of overlapping rules and
administrative agencies. For those wishing to obtain a Thai visa the process can seem
somewhat confusing at first glance.

The first aspect of Thai Immigration procedure that throws many people off is the fact
that there seem to be competing rules and regulations that are in operation
contemporaneously. This is due to the fact that two government agencies have been
deputized with the authority to monitor immigration into the Kingdom of Thailand.
The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has authority over the issuance of Thai visas and
travel documents at Thai diplomatic and consular posts outside of the Kingdom of
Thailand.

The Royal Thai Immigration Police are an extraordinary division of the Thai National
Police Department. This organization is tasked with overseeing non-Immigrants,
Immigrants, and Permanent Residents in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Both of these government offices have different criteria for adjudicating a foreign
national's immigration status. The Embassies and Consulates under the jurisdiction of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are permitted wide latitude in determining whether an
applicant should be issued a Thai visa. Further, these posts are only permitted to issue
visas for a limited period of validity (usually one year is the maximum that these posts
may issue visas for).

Royal Thai Immigration has a category system for compartmentalizing the different
types of foreigners present in the Kingdom of Thailand. Foreign nationals from select
countries are allowed to enter Thailand without obtaining a visa. These people are
technically present in the Kingdom on a visa exemption. Changing one's Thai visa
status while present on an exemption can be difficult. Foreigners from some countries
are extended the privilege of being able to apply for a visa on arrival. This means that
the foreigner can travel to Thailand without a visa, but they will need to have a visa
approved before they may pass through the Thai immigration checkpoint.

Royal Thai Immigration makes case by case determinations regarding whether a
foreign national will be permitted to remain in the Kingdom past the validity of their
original visa. If approved, the applicant's visa status is extended and the foreigner may
remain for the period of time that the immigration office dictates. Every 90 days, the
foreigner present in the Kingdom of Thailand must check in with Thai immigration
and update the office regarding the foreigner's current place of abode. Failure to keep
the Immigration office updated could result in fines and penalties for the foreign
national.

				
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posted:1/25/2011
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