I'm sure that many of you will have been reading over the past few weeks that there are some major changes on the way regarding visa rules and immigration laws in Thailand.
August 12th has been designated as the date for the new rules to be implemented. From that date, apparently no one will be allowed to use back-to-back 60-day tourist visas to enter Thailand. You can use one 60-day tourist visa to enter the country, but forget about using a second one. Apparently you'll be refused entry at the airport as well as any land border.
Thai immigration has apparently brought in these rules to crack down on the number of people (and there are plenty of them) who are using tourist visas to continually extend their stay in Thailand and in many cases, work illegally.
(You'll notice I'm using the word 'apparently' a lot because it's often foolish to quote any newspaper article or forum post as 'gospel' - especially where Thai immigration rules are concerned. There's often a sense of well, let's wait and see what unfolds.
I'm obviously going to come at this topic from the angle of 'schools hiring new teachers' because isn't the following a common scenario - and has been for some time?
A new teacher arrives in the country with a tourist visa (it's nigh on impossible to secure a non-immigrant B at a Thai consulate in your own country visa unless you have a concrete job offer and the appropriate paperwork)
The new teacher finds a teaching job and then has to do a 'visa run' to a neighboring country (Malaysia, Laos, etc) with supposedly the correct paperwork given to them by their new employer (school) to support their application for a non-immigrant B visa.
Then it's all in the lap of the Gods. Perhaps a document is missing from the teacher's application? Perhaps the consulate in the neighboring country has its own agenda? Perhaps the officer got up in a bad mood?
We know from past experience that there is no guarantee that a teacher's application for a non-B visa will be successful.
So under the new rules (coming in August) should the teacher's application for a non-B visa be refused, they are then technically 'stranded'. It seems there's no point getting another tourist visa, because you won't be allowed into Thailand?
I may be totally wrong about this - and I hope I am - but don't a lot of schools still operate along these lines when it comes to hiring new teachers?
And then of course, what about those agencies and schools who for whatever reason, just can't get their teachers work permits - and so make their foreign teachers do border run after border run. Those days are gone. Or they will be very soon.
We'd love to hear from you. Does your school hire new foreign teachers and send them on a visa run to a neighboring country? Are you a new teacher in a difficult situation yourself? Is your teaching job a perpetual cycle of border hops and what does your employer plan to do now? What is your interpretation of the new rule changes?
Let us know your thoughts.