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Interrogation at Don meung airport


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A brief visa history:

 

After finishing university in the UK in 2014 I got a METV and I spent about 9 months travelling with my girl friend around SE Asia and Japan - no issues coming in and out. 80% of my time was spent in Thailand where I bought a condo  and began a renovation project.

 

After my METV expired, I flew to Malaysia and back to get a 30 day exemption and 30 days extension - no issues.

 

On a second attempt to get a 30 day exemption after a flight to KL and back I was stopped when entering Don Meuang airport. I was taken aside and sent off for interrogation by the guy's superior. I was told I was going to be detained and would have to fly back to my home country (England) because I had been in Thailand for more than 180 days as a tourist. I showed him that I had 20000 cash on me but he wasn't interested. I think he suspected me of working - the concept of a year travelling without working seemed very strange to him. When I showed him my ticket back to the UK in 21 days plus pictures of my condo renovation, this seemed to be enough to convince him that I intended to go home and that I wasn't working here. He took took a copy of my girl friend's ID and tabian baan then wrote a few notes down on it. No notes made in my passport however. He allowed me entry but warned me I should be married and have a non-immigrant O visa if I wanted to carry on like that.

 

Some questions:

I flew back to the UK where I have been for the past 5 weeks. I now plan to go back to Thailand for about 5 months to see my girl friend and her family (possibly propose!), go to a meditation retreat, complete an Intro to TESOL and then do a CELTA. I then plan to apply for a job and get a work permit to teach. Given the unpleasant interogation I am wondering.

1. Which visa to get (SETV, METV, ED)?

2. What reason to give for coming to Thailand - visit gf and fam, spiritual enlightenment, teacher training + letter of exceptance on courses, tourism??

3. If I do get a visa what to say to officials at the airport if they interrogate me again?

 

I really dont want to arrrive in Survarnapum and find that they send me back the same day. I am not sure whether to mention the TESOL and CELTA or not as this may bring up issues of work again (even tho it is only training) but this is the really reason I will be here for the next few months.

 

Any suggestions welcome.

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15 minutes ago, barnettjon said:

1. Which visa to get (SETV, METV, ED)?

2. What reason to give for coming to Thailand - visit gf and fam, spiritual enlightenment, teacher training + letter of exceptance on courses, tourism??

3. If I do get a visa what to say to officials at the airport if they interrogate me again?

1. A single entry tourist visa would be enough of if you plan attending classes later. A METV if you think you need the time before you start working. To get a non-ed visa you would need paperwork from a school to apply for it.

2. Tourisim

No problem to get a tourist visa in the UK.

3. I don't think you will be questioned. Showing them you own a condo might help. Showing you have some money in the bank and etc.

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Thanks for the reply ubonjoe. According to the immigration official wouldn't I be breaking his 180 day rule if I go back soon? Not sure where this rule has cropped up from.

 

To esso49 - I just opened one in Bangkok Bank's head office in Silom - no issues.

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14 minutes ago, ubonjoe said:

Many people open bank accounts with while on a tourist visa entry without a problem. Showing a purchase agreement for a condo would make it easy.

He could also pay the seller or escrow from his UK account.

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11 minutes ago, barnettjon said:

Thanks for the reply ubonjoe. According to the immigration official wouldn't I be breaking his 180 day rule if I go back soon? Not sure where this rule has cropped up from.

That rule does not exist. It is only a few rogue officers that state that rule. But they cannot deny entry for that reason. They can only say that reason since there is no clause for it in the immigration act they can use to deny entry.

You should not be question when entering with a tourist visa issued in the UK. The problem you had before was when you were entering without a visa to get a visa exempt entry.

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7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

1. Which visa to get (SETV, METV, ED)?

METV

 

7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

2. What reason to give for coming to Thailand - visit gf and fam, spiritual enlightenment, teacher training + letter of exceptance on courses, tourism??

Tourism

 

7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

3. If I do get a visa what to say to officials at the airport if they interrogate me again?

You are visiting for tourism and to see your girlfriend.

 

7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

I really dont want to arrrive in Survarnapum and find that they send me back the same day.

It is mostly people staying too long using visa exempt entries that they seem to object to. As long as you enter with a visa it's highly unlikely you will get stopped.

 

7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

I am not sure whether to mention the TESOL and CELTA or not as this may bring up issues of work again (even tho it is only training) but this is the really reason I will be here for the next few months.

There is no benefit to mentioning your courses. Stick to tourism being the reason for your visit. 

 

7 hours ago, barnettjon said:

Thanks for the reply ubonjoe. According to the immigration official wouldn't I be breaking his 180 day rule if I go back soon? Not sure where this rule has cropped up from.

IO's quoting this "rule" has been reported many times at different border crossings over the past few years. There is no official set 180 day rule/limit, but immigration officers are clearly (from the number of reports) under orders to scrutinise anyone spending more than 180 days in the country as a tourist. It's an unofficial line at which point it is reasonable to assume the person, like you, is not visiting for tourism.

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30 minutes ago, elviajero said:

METV

 

Tourism

 

You are visiting for tourism and to see your girlfriend.

 

It is mostly people staying too long using visa exempt entries that they seem to object to. As long as you enter with a visa it's highly unlikely you will get stopped.

 

There is no benefit to mentioning your courses. Stick to tourism being the reason for your visit. 

 

IO's quoting this "rule" has been reported many times at different border crossings over the past few years. There is no official set 180 day rule/limit, but immigration officers are clearly (from the number of reports) under orders to scrutinise anyone spending more than 180 days in the country as a tourist. It's an unofficial line at which point it is reasonable to assume the person, like you, is not visiting for tourism.

Appreciate the advice. Although I just realized I dont qualify for the METV anymore as I am no longer a student. Interesting that money in the bank and a condo isn't enough. I suppose the only other option is to get a 2 SETVs?

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8 minutes ago, barnettjon said:

Appreciate the advice. Although I just realized I dont qualify for the METV anymore as I am no longer a student. Interesting that money in the bank and a condo isn't enough. I suppose the only other option is to get a 2 SETVs?

You won't have a problem getting a SETV in the UK, and shouldn't have any problems getting others in counties neighbouring Thailand. A METV is more convenient if you qualify.

 

I suspect they consider that anyone buying a condo would only do so if they qualified for long term visas/permits. The METV is designed for visitors for tourism that want to visit frequently, not to live in the country. Owning a condo gives a good reason to visit, but doesn't really fit a tourist profile. They should have a 'Visitor Visa' rather than a Tourist Visa as people have legitimate reasons for short term visits these days beyond just tourism.

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The rule is simple. If you're entering Thailand for multiple times, at least pay the Thai Government the visa fee - get a SETV. Avoid visa exempt. Visa exempt is for genuine tourist. 

 

Edited by onera1961
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2 hours ago, elviajero said:

 

There is no benefit to mentioning your courses. Stick to tourism being the reason for your visit. 

 

Agreed.  When you are dealing with police and officials it is best to keep your answers consistent (i.e. if tourism everything you say should be to support tourism only) and short.  Don't volunteer more than you have to.  If you start answering the same question with more than one answer -- it gives them reason to be suspicious.

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14 hours ago, barnettjon said:

Thanks for the reply ubonjoe. According to the immigration official wouldn't I be breaking his 180 day rule if I go back soon? Not sure where this rule has cropped up from.

 

To esso49 - I just opened one in Bangkok Bank's head office in Silom - no issues.

I got caught on this back in 1986. I'd overstayed by a couple of days and was quite happy to pay the fine which I was expecting. I was then asked for my tax clearance certificate Which I had forgotten to get !!! This was around midnight and my bags were on the plane. They told me to go to an Immigration Office on the same level where I offered to pay any tax and a fine. this was refused and was told to go to the Inland Revenue Office the following day. Fortunately my future wife had waited to see me through Immigration and accompanied back to the  Immigration where she was told that I had stayed in Thailand altogether more than 180 days. My wife asked if someone could go guarantor for me and was told 'only a C6 official could do this. That's if you can find one.' That was like waving a red flag at a bull. After quick altercation, my wife who isn't daunted by officialdom phoned her brother who was fortunately, top cop at Don Mueang police station . Meanwhile an airline official came and told me if this wasn't sorted quickly my bags would be off loaded. The brother in law arrived and after a bit of humming and arring I paid a fine and what was supposed to be tax. So I did get back to UK to give my daughter away on her wedding day. After thirty years thankfully, my wife has had to come to my aid over officialdom. Long winded. Sorry.  

Edited by Gandtee
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I had a couple of times an issue with this "180 days" rule
whilst on METV or NON-O several years back at the land
border in Sadao. Not on entring the country but on leaving. 
I was supposed to have some kind of Tax Clearing Form and
was sent back to Surat Thani.

Both times that happen to me, I just waited a couple of hours
in a restaurant in Sadao, then went again without problems.

Never a problem when entering the country.

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57 minutes ago, JoeLing said:

I had a couple of times an issue with this "180 days" rule
whilst on METV or NON-O several years back at the land
border in Sadao. Not on entring the country but on leaving. 
I was supposed to have some kind of Tax Clearing Form and
was sent back to Surat Thani.

 

1 hour ago, Gandtee said:

I was then asked for my tax clearance certificate Which I had forgotten to get !!! This was around midnight and my bags were on the plane. They told me to go to an Immigration Office on the same level where I offered to pay any tax and a fine. this was refused and was told to go to the Inland Revenue Office the following day.

The 180-day tax-rules are not what the OP was referring to. 

The "You cannot stay in Thailand more than 180 Days as a Tourist" non-existent-rule, stated as a predicate to denial (using an unrelated rejection-stamp), seems to have been invented by IOs/Supervisors at Bangkok Airports.

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1 hour ago, JackThompson said:

The "You cannot stay in Thailand more than 180 Days as a Tourist" non-existent-rule, stated as a predicate to denial (using an unrelated rejection-stamp), seems to have been invented by IOs/Supervisors at Bangkok Airports.

The same ‘rule’ has been quoted at land borders too over the last few years. It is has not been “invented” by individual IO’s/supervisors n Bangkok.

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7 minutes ago, elviajero said:

The same ‘rule’ has been quoted at land borders too over the last few years. It is has not been “invented” by individual IO’s/supervisors n Bangkok.

I should have included Aranya/Poipet, given they seem to work with the airport crew - trying to trick people into thinking they must "fly in," only to face a possible detention/expulsion trap.  The only valid "must fly-in" case would be a visa-exempt entry-attempt, if the "2 exempts by land per calendar-year" had been used. 


Are there cases at other land borders, in recent years, where "180 days" is being reported as quoted as grounds for refusal of entry?

 

The only other made-up rule, which seems to be ongoing, is the "no same-day return" policy reported at Malaysian crossings.

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Im curently on my 4th METV in a row in Thailand staying out of the country for 1-2 months between them and usually travel to laos or cambodia for a few days to get the reentry

So far i never got questioned and had to show money on malaysian land border once. 

I also have my thai gf here and i always carry papers showing money sent to thailand from austria.

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3 hours ago, JackThompson said:

I should have included Aranya/Poipet, given they seem to work with the airport crew - trying to trick people into thinking they must "fly in," only to face a possible detention/expulsion trap.  The only valid "must fly-in" case would be a visa-exempt entry-attempt, if the "2 exempts by land per calendar-year" had been used. 

Interesting opinion, but the simple reality is that the Bangkok airports are the busiest entry points, and Aranya is one of the busiest land borders that’s historically used by Bangkok/Pattaya visa runners — and both borders are clearly under orders to clamp down.

 

‘Visa runs’ have been tolerated — even encouraged— for years, but as visitor numbers grow the more visa runs will be blocked, and the visa/permit system properly enforced.

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There are multiple threads on here about the dangers of getting multiple tourist visas and/or visa exempt entries. You can be denied if the IO want to deny you. Either enrol on a real course and get your ED visa, or marry your partner and get a non-O. Problem solved.

 

A foreigner buying a cheap condo with a view to "doing it up" and then selling it at a profit may be considered as work, in which case you will be in big trouble. You could be fined, deported, blacklisted, and lose your assets in country. Especially dangerous on a tourist visa!

 

I opened a bank account here a few months ago and it was almost impossible. Almost 20 branches tried until I found one where the lady came from the same village as my wife so gave me the benfit of the doubt. It was apparently easy years ago to open one on a tourist visa, I know a Swiss guy who opened an account easily in Pattaya 5 years ago.

 

You will hear loads of posters on here telling you how easy it is to open a bank account on a tourist visa, but that was almost certainly pre-internet times. Try it now and see what happens. I am talking from experience, and every time I had my Thai wife present with me.

 

It sounds as if your intentions to stay in Thailand are more than just plain tourism, so the Thai authorities would be correct in investigating you and trying to find out more about what you are doing. Many Western countries would be a lot more strict, so just get the right visa. Back to back tourist visas in any country would cause concern.

Edited by pr9spk
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3 hours ago, JackThompson said:

I should have included Aranya/Poipet, given they seem to work with the airport crew - trying to trick people into thinking they must "fly in," only to face a possible detention/expulsion trap.  The only valid "must fly-in" case would be a visa-exempt entry-attempt, if the "2 exempts by land per calendar-year" had been used. 

Interesting opinion, but the simple reality is that the Bangkok airports are the busiest entry points, and Aranya is one of the busiest land borders that’s historically used by Bangkok/Pattaya visa runners — and both borders are clearly under orders to clamp down.

 

‘Visa runs’ have been tolerated — even encouraged— for years, but as visitor numbers grow the more visa runs will be blocked, and the visa/permit system properly enforced.

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11 hours ago, elviajero said:

Interesting opinion, but the simple reality is that the Bangkok airports are the busiest entry points, and Aranya is one of the busiest land borders that’s historically used by Bangkok/Pattaya visa runners — and both borders are clearly under orders to clamp down.

 

‘Visa runs’ have been tolerated — even encouraged— for years, but as visitor numbers grow the more visa runs will be blocked, and the visa/permit system properly enforced. 

 

I agree with you that there is selective-movement in the direction you suggest with policy at some locations/jurisdictions - but do not see what "rising visitor numbers" have to do with it.  If more short-term visitors are arriving from China - why does that matter in this context?  Is there a lack of housing, food, etc?  Are any crowding/infrastructure issues the fault of the much smaller number of longer-staying Farangs?  I fail to find the cause/effect in this explanation.

 

I also question how "high up" the orders affecting these checkpoints originate.  I think there is consensus that "poor visitors" should not stay long term - as is reflected in visa-exempt changes by ministerial order.  But, the other more expensive methods by which visitors can stay here (with or without a Thai spouse) are under attack selectively, at/in certain locations/jurisdictions only.  Among these are both written and unwritten local-rules regarding Tourist Visa issuance and entry, Edu-extension hrs required and extension-hoops, more difficult measures to marrying a Thai at amphoes, irrelevant paperwork for marriage-extensions, and Non-O Multi re-entry problems at Poipet. 

 

To be properly enforced consistently, the IO-behavior and policies being discussed would require changing the laws and/or ministerial orders in effect, so that visa-run companies and knowledgeable visitors could not simply switch to different entry-points, consulates for visas, amphoes for marriage, agents for extensions, etc. 

 

The selectivity of application would indicate these behaviors/policies are not top-down decisions - or, at least, not policies to which those at the top are willing to sign-off publicly.  This suggests those with a vested-interest in these changes can only obtain enforcement from lower-level personnel and local-institutions, while those at the top seem willing only to turn a blind-eye - possibly preserving a degree of "plausible deniability," should corruption be exposed at a later-date. 

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On 9/13/2018 at 8:34 PM, Esso49 said:

Can I ask how you opened a bank account as a tourist, so that you could transfer funds from the UK, to enable you to buy the condo ?

 

All you need is a Thai to vouch for you - I'd call it a guarantor but that's not quite correct. 

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On 9/15/2018 at 6:28 AM, lordblackader said:

All you need is a Thai to vouch for you - I'd call it a guarantor but that's not quite correct. 

Yep, I read that too. I opened mine a year or two ago, so that means the lady which opened it for me ticked that box as well, I was alone when I opened mine. Took 10 max 15min. 

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