The past year hasn’t been very good for expats living and working in the Kingdom of Thailand. A few changes in the Immigration rules and the enforcing of others has made it more difficult than ever to live in Thailand. First we had the changing of the rules for how people applied for the retirement visa. Then came the enforcement of the TM.30 form where landlords had to report the presence of foreigners on their property within 24 hours. And not only the first time, but every time you fly back into the country. Now it would seem that some immigration offices around the country are enforcing another law where we have to report to Immigration each and every time we travel out of our home province for more than 24 hours. I don’t know about you, but I travel a lot around the country promoting Thailand as a tourist destination. If my local Immigration office starts to enforce this last rule, it will make life so much harder for me.
Some expats, particularly pensioners, are saying that enough is enough, and they are packing their bags with the intention to leave the country. It is very doubtful that I will ever do that myself. I have lived and worked in Thailand for twenty five years now and I have no intention of living anywhere else. This is where I will retire and this is where I will be laid to rest. I love the country, though sometimes it is not easy to live here legally. I understand their slogan “bad guys out, good guys in” but some of their more more recent actions are also affecting the good guys. Regular guys who love it here and contribute to the well-being of the country in their own way.
There has been a lot of talk on expat forums. A lot of angry and upset people uncertain of their future. Some of them, like myself have lived here for most of their adult life. Others are married to Thais and have their own family. Some are teachers. Some are retired. But what we all have in common is that we are at the mercy of Immigration officials. With the frequent moving of the goalposts and different offices interpreting laws in their own way, we just don’t know what will happen in the future and whether our extension of stays will be renewed or not. Of course, it is their country and they can pass laws in any way they like. But, we only ask for fairness and clarity, and to let the good guys stay in Thailand.
To this end, a group of expats, including lawyers, have got together to put up a website at reform-thai-immigration.com. They want to “open a dialogue with the authorities, to see whether it is possible for alternative, more practical and less time-consuming ways of applying the 1979 Law on immigration to be found.” In particular, they want Article 37 of the Immigration Act to be reviewed. Individually we are weak and have no voice. Together we can make a difference. Make your voice heard and sign the petition to reform Immigration rules. Doing nothing will change nothing. It is in your hands now. Click here to read the and sign the petition.