Tourism or not
We try to stay out of politics and try to keep it to facts and summaries. Criticism isn’t accepted by Thailand and tourism can’t be touched or hurt. Well, that was the case for long. It’s the govt that rules the last few years who makes it more complicated and hassle for foreigners to stay longer in Thailand than just for a few weeks vacation. What exactly belongs under the category tourism or not or who, according to Thai immigration.
There are thousands of foreigners living in Thailand on tourist visa’s. For many years they did the infamous visa runs. Every 90 days a visa run, when another tourist visa expired. Get to a neighboring country overland and stamp out. Then either come back again the same day or next day on a free 30 days tourist visa. Or get to the Thai embassy and apply for a new 60 days visa (which can be extended by 30 days withing TH) and come back to Thailand 2 or 3 days later. Nothing illegal on that. Is it tourism or not is another question.
The rules got stricter and tougher over the years that the army started ruling the country in a direct or indirect way. Many stories could be found on Google about Thai immigration. Also many stories from a lot of foreigners who heard something too, but nobody knew for sure. Look at the post on this site about the Thai embassy in Vientiane, where about 600 foreigners a day applied for visa. The majority stayed long term in Thailand on tourist visa and did the visa run in Vientiane.
Recently another new instruction got passed on to the immigration at land borders and to embassies to get more tough and strict. You might be suspected for having a Thai girlfriend and/or for working illegally as soon as you visit Thailand on a somewhat more regular base. A ban on all long stayers in Thailand seems another new rule. Without prior announcement. When you have a passport issued around spring 2017 only and have Thai tourist visas from that moment to Sept 2018. With breaks every 3 months for about 8-14 days to another country. You got your visas always from Thai embassies (never a free 30 days) around south east Asia and followed the rules for that. That means a bank statement, plane tickets out of TH, address registration or hotel booking. Then you will suddenly get the following treatment from the immigration….
The interview is not a friendly thing to undergo. Unreasonable and not listening officers who obviously already had made their decision before starting the interview. It can be a horrific experience. The officer asks what you are doing such a long time in Thailand. It comes to the point that it’s suspicious that you don’t have a job (and therefore work there illegally). A plausible explanation won’t be listened to, nor accepted. The officer is convinced that you have a Thai girlfriend (in case you’re a man). He nearly laughs in your face when you answer honestly that you’re single.
The officer demands your phone and goes through your pics to find evidence of his theory. He might not find it and that makes him visibly more annoyed than just before. Then he looks with one eye in your hand luggage, without result too. Do you have money for shopping, he asks with a raised voice. Now it’s even more clear that he hadn’t listened to your plausible explanation of income that comes monthly on your Thai bank account. Showing him the bank card for shopping doesn’t help either.
He says only cash! You must be lucky at such moment to walk around with huge sums of cash on a, for some, scary land border crossing. A $350 in cash is apparently not enough, as he shouted. It might make you wonder with how much the backpackers walk around. One of the others interviewed showed $700 cash and was able to pass. Her phone got checked too, not to prove his narrow minded theory, but to prove her story.
You will be denied visa and the officer puts a paper in front of you. Sign! Questions about what you should or have to sign for are ignored or simply answered with two more demands to sign. You get a copy of a paper, half Thai and half English language per paragraph which mentions that you’re denied entry and under which law provisions. Blanks about dates or time frames might stay open. On your question when you’re allowed to enter Thailand again, you get to hear “You better go your own country”.
Ban or Blacklist
You can try the next option for a Thai visa. Not the 30 day free stamp, but a visa through the Thai embassy under the rules as mentioned in paragraph immigration. Within four days you will be denied visa again. You’re banned or blacklisted, but you won’t get to hear for what and also not for how long.
Your last option could be by taking a flight to the airport in BKK, make sure to have a ticket out of Thailand, otherwise no airline will bring you to BKK in the first place. It’s a personal choice. If you need to handle or finish things off in Thailand, give it a try (and write the result on our forum). After visa denied on both the land border and by an embassy, it would be a surprise when the immigration at airports will let you in.
A video of the complete process from begin to end can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W50wWy7pJPs&feature=youtu.be