About four years ago, I wrote about Immigration officers making mistakes with visa extension stamps. A teacher friend had gone abroad for a short trip. He had a re-entry permit and when he came back, he naturally expected that his visa extension stamp would remain valid. But, unknown to him, the Immigration staff didn’t spot his re-entry permit and gave him only 30 days. He only found out nearly two months later when he turned up at local Immigration to renew his visa extension. He was told that he had overstayed by one month. Luckily for him, this was easily resolved, though he had to return to Suvarnabhumi Airport to get them to write the correct date first.
When I had my visa extended last year, I was delighted, though a little surprised, that they gave me two years. Normally I would be given only one year at a time. I didn’t really think that it was a mistake as, after all, I know a number of people who have two year visas. Some even more. But in hindsight, it was rather stupid of me for not double checking with them whether it was a mistake or not. To be honest, if I had known it was a mistake, I might have been tempted just to go along with it. After all, surely it was their mistake and I shouldn’t be penalized for it. How wrong was I.
Just the other week, a friend of mine was telling me about his bad experience at his local Immigration office. He was under the impression that he was going there to do a routine yearly extension to his visa. He was expecting to pay only 1,900 Baht to do this. But, he ended up having to pay an additional 20,000 Baht for overstaying. An Immigration officer during his previous visit had made a mistake. My friend had to pay for that mistake. This naturally made me think about my own situation and to whether my visa extension was really two years long or not. I kept putting off going to Immigration to ask, but then yesterday I got a phone call from the Inspector at Samut Prakan Immigration who I have known personally for a number of years. So, when I went in today, I brought up the subject of my visa extension with him.
So, apparently, as it turns out, they should have given me only a one year extension and not two. I was really lucky that I had gone sooner rather than later. My extension in the passport originally said July 2016. They have now crossed this out and have written the year 2015 instead. I am really lucky that this was sorted out now before the first year had expired. He made it clear to me that if I had come in next year there would have been a big problem about it. Not only would I have overstayed by a year, I would, at the very least, have faced a 20,000 Baht fine. I could have also faced deportation and maybe even blacklisting. I learned a very important lesson today. I admit I was stupid not to double check. Hopefully by sharing my experience, I may help others from not having to pay a big fine.
On a related note, the reason that I went in today was to discuss about the website for Samut Prakan Immigration. At present, it is more than 95% in Thai. They want my help in reversing that ratio. I don’t need to translate anything. I can grab most things from the Immigration website in Bangkok. I don’t think they will actually pay me, but I am happy to help them. Mainly because they have agreed to answer any of your visa related questions. So, feel free to send them in and I will LINE the inspector in Samut Prakan. This has the potential of being really good. So please, take advantage of this free resource.