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Story Of My Thai Citizenship Application


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Following Richard4849's suggestion I have had a look at the Royal Gazette (Tombkk you need to do a search for nationality สัญชาติ here http://www.ratchakit...index/index.htm)and came up with the following statistics of people granted Thai nationality for the period 2006-2010 to date (5 years).

Thanks a lot: For the search criterion (cannot fund the search function on that websire right now, but will look in the next days), for the list you complied, and for your analysis.

This is great work.

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Hi All, For those who are interested, the application process for Thai Citizenship in my case went as follows: Late 2003 - Picked up the checklist from the Police Headquarters on Rama 1 Road Janu

Not sure why you chose to go through all this humiliation ! But you obviously had your reasons ! If you are from Africa or the Indian Sub-Continent or such, then Thai citizenship may be regarded as u

"Humiliation"? Sorry, I don't see whats humiliating about this . . . . . G

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Corrections to Royal Gazette statistics

I have spent a bit more time in the Royal Gazette website and realize that the search function is more complicated than I thought, since a simple search doesn’t bring the entries up in strict chronological order. The search engine seems to group items according to the type of classification (e.g. special) as well as the volume which doesn’t always result in chronological order and I haven’t figured out how to fix this. Another oddity of the Gazette is that announcements of women adopting their husbands' Thai nationality are always made individually with their nationalities given, whereas naturalizations are usually announced in long lists and the nationalities are no longer shown. Anyway I have refined the search as best I can and found quite a lot of additional entries. This may still not be complete but I have corrected the summary below, ignoring the numerous en bloc naturalizations of, I believe, stateless persons in the provinces and the few recoveries of Thai nationality. I have also added 2005.

2005

68 females with Thai husbands

50 naturalizations of which 11 female and 2 farang sounding names

2006

232 females with Thai husbands

10 naturalizations of which 1 female and no farang sounding names

2007

141 females with Thai husbands

236 naturalizations of which 18 female and 13 farang sounding names

2008

44 females with Thai husbands

163 naturalizations of which 9 female and 8 farang sounding names

2009

4 females with Thai husbands

2010

7 females with Thai husbands

145 naturalisations of which 25 female and 11 farang sounding names

Thus 2005 to 2010 totals are:

496 females with Thai husbands (average 82.7 p.a.)

604 naturalizations (average 100.7 p.a.)

Farang sounding names account for 7% of naturalizations.

The numbers look quite decent compared to common perceptions of the virtual impossibility of acquiring Thai citizenship, particularly taking in account that I may still not have been able to find all the announcements. It is just a pity that the numbers are so lumpy year to year and that the process lacks transparency or any regulated time line once it gets to the ministry.

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Just got mine. Three years and two months, start to finish.

Richard, let me join in to congratulate you on this accomplishment!

Your recent approval gives me a glimmer of hope. I am now at 3 years and 6 months from my original application date (May 2007) and not a peep since my Interior Ministry Interview in July 2008. There were probably about 250 applicants there for the interview at the Interior Ministry in 2008, and probably, as you say, not more than 5 were farang. I wonder if you were one of them?

Did you have any assistance in speeding up the process or, like me, did you simply wait your turn to come around without trying to move things along?

Again, congratulations! Hopefully, I too, will have good news in the not-to-distant future...

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I don't think we were at the same interview session. If I remember correctly, mine was in August 2008.

As for speeding up the process, I did have one of my staff members do some lobbying on my behalf...making frequent phone calls and visits in person to the various offices, as well as asking some "phu yai" to do the same.

But who really knows what helps and what doesn't? I'm not entirely sure.

Just stick with it...if your case is like mine, just when you were about to give up hope you'll hear something.

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I don't think we were at the same interview session. If I remember correctly, mine was in August 2008.

As for speeding up the process, I did have one of my staff members do some lobbying on my behalf...making frequent phone calls and visits in person to the various offices, as well as asking some "phu yai" to do the same.

But who really knows what helps and what doesn't? I'm not entirely sure.

Just stick with it...if your case is like mine, just when you were about to give up hope you'll hear something.

How was your approval communicated to you? If by letter, what did it say? How long after the notification did you get your I'D card? Did you need to use the Thai name you previously registered or could you use your own name in Thai script?

Sorry for all the questions but in my position I'm sure you understand my curiosity.

Edited by TheChiefJustice
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I don't think we were at the same interview session. If I remember correctly, mine was in August 2008.

As for speeding up the process, I did have one of my staff members do some lobbying on my behalf...making frequent phone calls and visits in person to the various offices, as well as asking some "phu yai" to do the same.

But who really knows what helps and what doesn't? I'm not entirely sure.

Just stick with it...if your case is like mine, just when you were about to give up hope you'll hear something.

How was your approval communicated to you? If by letter, what did it say? How long after the notification did you get your I'D card? Did you need to use the Thai name you previously registered or could you use your own name in Thdi script?

Sorry for all the questions but in my position I'm sure you understand my curiosity.

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I don't think we were at the same interview session. If I remember correctly, mine was in August 2008.

As for speeding up the process, I did have one of my staff members do some lobbying on my behalf...making frequent phone calls and visits in person to the various offices, as well as asking some "phu yai" to do the same.

But who really knows what helps and what doesn't? I'm not entirely sure.

Just stick with it...if your case is like mine, just when you were about to give up hope you'll hear something.

How was your approval communicated to you? If by letter, what did it say? How long after the notification did you get your I'D card? Did you need to use the Thai name you previously registered or could you use your own name in Thdi script?

Sorry for all the questions but in my position I'm sure you understand my curiosity.

My staff lady had weekly contact with Special Branch and with Interior Ministry, so all notifications came via her. Nothing in the mail or otherwise direct to me -- though I suppose it would have had she not been running interference.

From Royal Household approval to Ministry of Interior final approval: three months.

From Minister of Interior final approval to publishing in Royal Gazette: three months.

From publishing to ID card: one month.

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Sorry, forgot to answer your question about names.

You can have your new ID card issued in your original farang name, or you can choose a Thai one. You don't have to stick to the one you used when making the application. The surname you choose, though, does naturally have to follow the rules (it must have meaning, not duplicate anyone else, not have any royal words in it, not exceed a certain number of syllables, etc. etc.).

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Haha..Cool. Congratulations. It's a very nice story. :o (The bureaucracy was unbelievable. :D )

now you can have a nice little earner off farangs ,

signing their residency application.

assuming you are a property owner .

sir , i have sent you a PM .

PLEASE HELP. :jap:

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I have done some more research in the Royal Gazette to investigate revocation of nationality. If you remember, Immigration Order no. 2009.142/882 of 26 Feb 2009, as posted on the Immigration Div 2 website http://imm2.go.th/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=86, instructed immigration officers to forward details of Thai citizens observed to be holding passports of another nationality to Special Branch so that their Thai nationality may be revoked through publication in the Royal Gazette. The thread about this on the Immigration website also referenced a rather ancient letter of 1970 from the Interior Ministry to the Foreign Ministry requesting that the Thai embassies and consulates should refer names of Thais with other nationalities to them for revocation of nationality. So I thought it might be interesting to know something about the cases of revocation of Thai nationality that have actually taken place in as much as this impinges on the issue of dual nationality. I confined myself mainly to the period that the current Nationality Act has been in force. That is the 1965 Nationality Act as amended by Revolutionary Decree 337 in 1972, the Acts of 1992 (Versions 2 & 3) and the Act of 2008 (Version 4). I have examined the different classes of Thai national separately.

1. Thais by descent (born to a Thai parent). The wording of the 1952 Nationality Act that was in force prior to the 1965 was unequivocal on this issue,” A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien shall lose Thai nationality”. However, the language was softened in Section 22 of the 1965 so as to become ambiguous, “A person of Thai nationality who has been naturalised as an alien, or who has renounced Thai nationality, or whose Thai nationality has been revoked, shall lose Thai nationality.” As if the drafters were no longer quite sure what they wanted, the wording still appears to allow Thai nationality to be revoked but also appeared to introduce the mutually exclusive concept of Thais volunatarily renouncing their Thai nationality in order to acquire or retain another nationality. The Interior Ministry ‘s 1970 letter to the Foreign Ministry appeared to show a resolve to pursue Thais naturalized as aliens in the same unequivocal way as allowed by the 1952 Act. However, we can only assume that little of substance occurred as a result of that letter. I have been unable to find a single announcement of revocation under Section 22 of the 1965 Act. My assumption is that the Interior Ministry relented in the early 70s and decided that the ambiguity in Section 22 made it impossible to revoke nationality of Thais by descent without risk of legal challenges. There have been very few announcements of voluntary renunciation of Thai nationality in order to be naturalized as alien, except for the hundreds of women married to Taiwanese and a handful pursuing German, Dutch, Singaporean or Korean nationality (all countries that prohibit or restrict dual nationality). Therefore the Interior Ministry must by now be aware that there are hundreds of thousands of Thais around who have been naturalized as aliens without renouncing their Thai nationality.

2. Thais by birth in Thailand to alien parents. Revolutionary Decree 337 of 1972 made it much harder to obtain Thai nationality this way and even retroactively revoked the nationality of thousands of Thai citizens whose fathers were not permanent residents at the time of their birth in Thailand. The vast majority of these Thai citizens have been Chinese and were officially allowed dual nationality by China until the mid 70s when China abandoned its “Greater China” policy towards the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, in order to promote better relations with the governments there that had been concerned about the loyalties of their Chinese communities since the communist takeover. Then China prohibited dual nationality in its own nationality law, although this aspect of the law is not as vigorously applied as it is in countries like Singapore and Malaysia where a sole nationality is enshrined in the constitution. The 1965 Act toughened the grounds for revocation of Thai nationality by birth in Section 17 (1), “He has resided in a foreign country, of which his father has or used to have nationality, for a consecutive period of more than five years as from the day of his becoming sui juris.” and (2) remained unchanged, “There is evidence to show that he makes use of the nationality of his father or of a foreign nationality, or that he has an active interest in the nationality of his father or in a foreign nationality.” The length of permitted residence in the father’s country was reduced from 10 years in the 1952 Act to 5 years and there is evidence that that Interior Ministry meant business in pursuing those Chinese Thais who spent too much time back in China. (However, it is clear that Chinese Thais through birth in Thailand to alien fathers were not the target of the Interior Ministry's 1970 letter to the Foreign Ministry, since Thailand didn't resume diplomatic relations with China until 1976.) There are long lists of announcements of revocations of nationality under Section 17 (1) and (2). The 5 year time limit is important because all these cases quote both clauses (1) and (2) of Section 17 which suggests they were simply presumed to have their father’s nationality, as a result of being away for over 5 years. No further evidence of another nationality is cited in the announcements, except in the case of a British man born in Thailand to alien parents whose Thai nationality was revoked in 2004 under Section 17 (2) only without recourse to the 5 year rule. In his case the announcement specified that he had actually used his British passport to enter and leave Thailand as evidence with no suggestion that he had remained in the UK for more than 5 years. Most of these revocations took place earlier on in the post-1965 Act period but they have continued until the 2000s with the most recent announcement in 2008. The vast majority are Chinese names with a sprinkling of Indian and Burmese names. A much smaller but significant number of Thais by birth have lost their Thai nationality for bad behaviour under Section 17 (3) and (4). Sometimes the nature of the offence is specified as a conviction for drugs or similar and sometimes it is left vague as an offence to public morals or posing a security threat.

3. Naturalized Thais. The 1965 Act interestingly lowered the residence qualification for naturalization from 10 to 5 years but also lowered the bar on revocation by reducing the time allowed without a residence in Thailand from 7 to 5 years: Section 19 (5) “He has resided abroad without having a domicile in Thailand for more than five years”. Section 19 (2) remained unchanged, “There is evidence to show that he still makes use of his former nationality”. However, I was unable to find any cases of naturalized Thais whose Thai nationality was revoked under Section 19 (2) or (5). There are several cases of naturalized Thais losing Thai nationality as a result of bad behavior or using false information in order to obtain Thai nationality.

4. Women who adopt their husbands’ Thai nationality. In the 1965 Act there is not even an ambiguous suggestion that they shouldn’t have dual nationality. It was probably still assumed that women lost their nationality automatically on marriage to an alien, as they did in many countries including the UK and Thailand until the early 50s. Thus it is only possible to revoke these Thais’ nationality for using false information to obtain Thai nationality or bad behavior. Several women have lost their Thai nationality for these reasons over the years.

It is too early to conclude that Immigration didn’t mean business with its order on dual nationality last February and, for all I know, there may be a large pipeline of Thais of all nationality classes waiting to have their Thai nationality revoked in the Royal Gazette. Also the law and/or the interpretation of it may change. However, looking at the historical record as it pertains to the 1965 Act and in respect of the following classes of Thai dual nationals it appears that:

i) Thais by descent have nothing to fear.

ii) Well behaved women who have adopted their husband’s Thai nationality have nothing to fear.

iii) Thais by birth to alien parents have been the no. I target over the years and need to be careful not to stay out of Thailand for more than 5 years or show their other passports to Immigration as well as maintain good behavior.

iv) Naturalized Thais have never been a specific target, probably because they are seen as more deserving than Thais by birth as they have been carefully screened for approval as well as tested by lengthy waiting periods. However, apart from maintaining good behavior, they should also follow the advice in iv) above, in case there is any change in the implement of the law.

v) All should watch out for any changes in immigration procedure that might make airlines provide information about travellers’ nationality direct to immigration, as the UK has been trying to introduce.

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Arkady,

You've been busy. Thanks for great information.

To tell you a secret, one day I plan to apply for Thai citizenship. My question is: Will it be permanent, or can it be revoked at any given time, and I'll be stranded without any legal nationality?

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Dear Arkady, your last post is quite interesting and your knowledge of the matter is far greater than mine, but there is one thing that I'm quite sure about. You can not have citizenship revoked or stripped unless you have another citizenship/nationality. No matter whether you are a citizen by birth or naturalized, and even if you commit crimes, you legally can not lose citizenship if you have no other. Or else where would you be deported to? Countries do not necessarily accept former citizens to reclaim citizenship (or even return for that matter) especially one's who have committed crimes. This is my knowledge based upon discussions I've had with a lawyer in the past concerning someone immigrating from Iran. Would such a person really end up in the Immigration Detention centre for the rest of their life?

However, I don't rule that possibility in specific serious cases that high level action between two countries may allow a former citizen to be returned to their former country (reluctantly reinstating their former citzenship or residence), but it is not true for all countries.

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I had the same thought as Time Traveller. If your Thai citizenship is revoked and you have already surrendered your original citizenship, where would they send you? Some countries probably would refuse to resurrect your citizenship so where would you go? Would you suddenly become a refugee or non-person?

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Dear Arkady, your last post is quite interesting and your knowledge of the matter is far greater than mine, but there is one thing that I'm quite sure about. You can not have citizenship revoked or stripped unless you have another citizenship/nationality. No matter whether you are a citizen by birth or naturalized, and even if you commit crimes, you legally can not lose citizenship if you have no other. Or else where would you be deported to? Countries do not necessarily accept former citizens to reclaim citizenship (or even return for that matter) especially one's who have committed crimes. This is my knowledge based upon discussions I've had with a lawyer in the past concerning someone immigrating from Iran. Would such a person really end up in the Immigration Detention centre for the rest of their life?

However, I don't rule that possibility in specific serious cases that high level action between two countries may allow a former citizen to be returned to their former country (reluctantly reinstating their former citzenship or residence), but it is not true for all countries.

I will try to answer this as well as Tombkk's related question. In saying that a person cannot be deprived of a nationality, if they have no other nationality and the act would render them stateless, I assume you are referring to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness, Article 8, "Contracting States shall not deprive people of their nationality so as to render them stateless. (Exceptions: where otherwise provided in the Convention; where nationality has been acquired by misrepresentation or fraud; disloyalty to the Contracting State)." The problems with this are most importantly that Thailand is not a contracting party to the convention (nor are the US or Iran for that matter); and secondly that the convention does, indeed, allow deprivation of nationality resulting in statelessness for the behavioural reasons that the Thai Nationality Act provides for revocation of nationality. Thus, even if Thailand were a contracting party to the convention, all of the criteria for revoking nationality in the Nationality Act (making use of another nationality, obtaining nationality through misrepresentation, bad behaviour or posing a security or public morality threat which can interpreted as disloyality) would be permitted, even if the latter reasons resulted in statelessness. Historically thousands of former Thais, born in Thailand to alien parents without permanent residence were rendered stateless as a result of Revolutionary Decree 337 in 1972 and many of the survivors have remained stateless to this day. In a notorious case in 2002 the district chief of Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai, revoked the Thai nationality of 1,243 residents thereby rendering them stateless. The district office then persistently refused to obey the instructions of the Provincial Administration Dept to reinstate their Thai nationality on the spurious grounds that the Provincial Governor had not issued an order to that effect. Nearly all of the 1,243 victims of this pernicious abuse of power by local officials have since regained their Thai nationality but it took several years and was only achieved through the actions of legal activists who took the case pro bono to the Administration Court on their behalf.

The issue of recovering a former nationality is an interesting one. Thailand allows those who have formerly had Thai nationality to apply without the 5 year residence qualification but the approval is still subject to the discretion of the minister and the law provides for no fast track. In Vietnam there is quite a problem with stateless women who married Taiwanese men and gave up their Vietnamese nationality in order to become Taiwanese but get dumped by the men without completing the process. They are allowed into Vietnam but Vietnamese law, like Thai law, provides no automatic right or fast track for them to recover their Vietnamese nationality. They and their children have to wait many years as stateless persons without the right to work, go to school or access medical care and other public services. Incidentally US law also provides no privileges for former citizens applying to recover their citizenship but the UK provides the right to recover citizenship once and once only to former citizens who have renounced citizenship in order to obtain or retain another citizenship, if they have documentary evidence from the country of their other nationality that renouncing UK citizenship was a legal requirement in their specific case (probably not the case in Thailand where only a declaration of intent is required for naturalization). Even so, the UK only provides these former British citizens with exemption from the residence, language and knowledge of life in the UK requirements and they still need to undergo the security vetting and wait in the queue with all other applicants for British citizenship. So it is in really neither automatic nor quick but better than nothing. Those who cannot provide evidence that renouncing UK citizenship was a legal requirement in their specific case and those who have renounced it more than once may be permitted to recover British Citizenship at the discretion of the Home Secretary but, according to Home Office guidelines, this is only to be granted in the event that there is evidence of permanent settlement in the UK or of intention to settle permanently in the UK.

Thus I think the answer to Tombbk's question is, yes, you could be stripped of your Thai nationality and rendered stateless, in the event that you had given up your former nationality to become Thai. The ease of recovering your former nationality depends on the country but it is not particularly easy in most countries and many technically require you to go back there and qualify on grounds of residence which can be difficult, if you are stateless and cannot get a visa. However, depending on the circumstances some Western governments might use their legal discretion to restore nationality to a former national who has been rendered stateless by the actions of another government. Anyway I don't think one should be too gloomy about the situation of those who are obliged to give up former nationality to become Thai or do so voluntarily. Apart from obtaining Thai nationality by misrepresentation, the behavioural reasons stated in the Royal Gazette for revocation of Thai nationality in recent years are clearly for serious crimes that would involve jail time in Thailand or overseas. Before the sentence has been completed the host country would no doubt appeal to the country of former of nationality to take their former citizen back, rather than have to keep him in an immigration detention centre indefinitely. There is no likelihood of farangs or others who have gone through the naturalization process via Special Branch being subjected to the same arbitrary racial discrimination meted out to the unfortunate residents of Mae Ai which is sadly reserved for hill tribe people.

Finally the Thai Registration of Aliens Act provides for the automatic issuance of an Alien Registration Book to any former Thai national who has lost Thai nationality for whatever reason. This provision was probably written with the pre-1965 nationality laws in mind which stripped Thai nationality from women who married aliens. Probably some one whose Thai nationality was revoked for bad behaviour or obtaining Thai nationality through misrepesentation would also be subject to a deportation or blacklisting order by Immigration that would make it difficult to exercise the right to automatically be registered as an alien (i.e. a PR). I don't know how they would view some one who lost Thai nationality for making use of another nationality today but I do know that many of the Chinese who lost Thai nationality during the Cold War era for remaining in China for more than 5 years or as security threats, some of whom were students, were also blacklisted for over 20 years and couldn't return home until they were quite old. However, there is evidence that, despite the difficulty in getting PR from scratch today, the provision is still being implemented in certain circumstances. There is a thread in TV that describes the case of a Burmese man who applied to Immigration's dept for investigating Thai nationality and was issued with an Alien Book by Immigration because he was able to prove that he formerly had Thai nationality but couldn't provide evidence that he was still entitled to it as born in Thailand to parents with PR, i.e. Immigration took the view that his Thai nationality had been revoked by Revolutionary Decree 337 as born in Thailand to parents without PR. It is probably safe to assume that Thais who voluntarily renounced citizenship to naturalize as aliens could automatically acquire PR in Thailand but I think all other cases would depend on the circumstances.

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Arkady,

Quite randomly, I was asked by an old lady crossing into Laos at the Friendship bridge to fill in her Thai departure card, as she couldn't write.

She was for all intents and purposes Thai, born in Udon Thani in the 1940's, but she held a Vietnamese passport. She lived in Thailand. Her name was even Thai as far as I can recall. Her passport did not appear to have any visa for Thailand.

I was wondering the circumstances were that would lead to a situation like this?

I tried to explain to her that she was probably eligible for Thai nationality, but she didn't really 'get it'. She seemed quite comfortable with the fact that she'd be able to come back to Thailand with no problems.

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Arkady,

Quite randomly, I was asked by an old lady crossing into Laos at the Friendship bridge to fill in her Thai departure card, as she couldn't write.

She was for all intents and purposes Thai, born in Udon Thani in the 1940's, but she held a Vietnamese passport. She lived in Thailand. Her name was even Thai as far as I can recall. Her passport did not appear to have any visa for Thailand.

I was wondering the circumstances were that would lead to a situation like this?

I tried to explain to her that she was probably eligible for Thai nationality, but she didn't really 'get it'. She seemed quite comfortable with the fact that she'd be able to come back to Thailand with no problems.

Samran, The lady was certainly entitled to Thai nationality at the time of her birth but it would have been automatically revoked in Dec 1972 under Revolutionary Decree 337, if her parents did not have Alien Registration Books at the time of her birth. I would think it quite likely that this was the case because most of the Indochinese immigrants who came to Thailand before the Second World War were from rural areas and didn't have any identity documents issued by the French colonial authorities and/or didn't pass through legal immigration checkpoints. Having a passport or some kind of document proving nationality and entering legally were prerequisites for alien registration and being a PR in Thailand in the 30s and 40s. So she may have been born Thai and then lost her nationality but been entitled to PR and an alien book as a former Thai citizen. That would explain her having a Thai name and living permanently in Thailand and she could indeed have a Vietnamese passport in this scenario, as Vietnam has made efforts to grant nationality to stateless people in this situation that they accept as ethnic Vietnamese. If she got the Vietnamese passport some years after becoming stateless but with Thai PR, she may have kept it from the Thai authorities that she had obtained another nationality, fearing deportation to Vietnam and I think this may be common amongst these Vietnamese since Thai district offices are likely to squelch their applications for recovery of Thai nationality if they know they are no longer stateless. Also those without PR risk deportation to a country they know nothing about, since the 1992 Nationality Act classified them clearly as illegal immigrants. Perhaps she could pass the Thai checkpoint by showing her alien book and tabien baan for a day trip to Laos or maybe she also had a Thai alien travel document (issued to stateless PRs). The only thing I can't explain is how the Lao side would let her in with no Thai exit stamp in her Vietnamese passport but maybe this is common as there are still a lot of these Vietnamese in Udon and Nong Khai and Laos has a special relationship with Vietnam.

You are right that she should be entitled to apply for recovery of Thai nationality under the 2008 Nationality Act (and an earlier cabinet resolution in the 90s relating specifically to the Vietnamese community in Thailand), which made people who had lost Thai nationality under Decree 337 automatically Thai, unlike those born after Decree 337 but before 1992 who need the permission of the minister. But if she is illiterate, she has probably never got around to attempting what is not a straight forward process owing to the unfortunate racism displayed by Thai local officials towards these largely poor racial minorities, even though most of them are indistinguishable from Thais.

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  • 1 month later...

I had my Interior Ministry interview today, just over three years after my initial application at Special Branch.

One question surprised me. The committee secretary, a rather fierce woman, asked whether I was willing to give up my current citizenship. I replied that if it was required, then I would. She then said that if I didn't, my Thai citizenship would be revoked. This wasn't consistent with what Special Branch had told me when I applied, so I had my secretary follow up with Special Branch. They said that the committee was not supposed to ask that question, and furthermore confirmed that (in their opinion) there was nothing in Thai Law to forbid dual citizenship, and that the Interior Ministry had no legal right to force me to give up my existing citizenship.

I'm told that the time from this stage to getting citizenship is mostly dependent on how long the Interior Minister takes to sign. It can take years. Apparently, the current minister has expressed the view that he doesn't view this as a priority relative to his other duties (except in special circumstances, which I will leave you to guess), so I am expecting a long wait.

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There is some discussion on the point of giving up Thai nationality. Frankly, I'm a bit (pleasantly) surpised by the answer from Special Branch.

The THai interior minstry seems more and more going into the direction that one must give up the original nationality when one becomes Thai. (As a lot of other countries do) Now one is required to sign a statement that one intends to give up the original natioanlity as a part of the process.

While the nationality law doesn't say that one need to give up the original nationality if you opt for Thai citizenship, it does say something like that you cannot make use of it. The qustion is what "making use of" is.

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Special Branch told me that the debate about whether dual nationality is allowed or not under the Nationality Act and whether the Act should be amended to specifically prohibit it has been raging at the Interior Ministry for as long as anyone can remember. Their view, as stated by Jamesthailand, is that it is not specifically prohibited. However, as Mario says, the pro-xenophobia camp seems currently to be getting the upper hand at the ministry and is trying to impose its own interpretation on the naturalisation process. This seems an unfortunate retrogressive move when many countries are moving in the other direction, e.g. Vietnam has recently moved to allow dual nationality even for naturalised Vietnamese. I suspect it is a backlash caused by resentment at the provision in the 2008 Nationality Act that allowed foreign men married to Thai women to apply for nationality without having PR first that was clearly added to avoid conflicts with the constitutional provisions against gender discrimination.

Many people who got Thai nationality as result of being born in Thailand to alien parents have involuntarily lost their Thai nationality for "making use" of their father's nationality. However, nearly all of these people were also cited as being guilty of being not domiciled in Thailand for over 5 years (another reason for revocation), in addition to "making use" of their father's nationality. Normally no specific evidence was cited of the use of the other nationality but I presume this wasn't necessary due to the combined use of the 5 year for which evidence would have been readily available from Immigration. There has been one specific case of revocation of Thai nationality specifically on the grounds of making use of another nationality alone. In this 2004 case a British man provided the evidence himself by entering and leaving Thailand on his British passport. Clearly that constituted "use" of another nationality. There are no cases known to me of naturalised Thais involuntarily losing Thai nationality, although there are several of women who got it through marrying Thai men. What may be a concern to some, particularly with the possible advent of e-borders involving airlines automatically notifying citizenship to immigration services, is whether leaving Thailand to go on a short trip to a farang country without a visa for that country could in future be interpreted as "use" of former nationality.

Three years seems rather a long time between application and interview, given the small numbers who apply and rapid processing of them by Special Branch and the other government agencies responsible for vetting applicants before they are passed to the ministry, which only takes about two months. I am not sure why the minister needs several more years to consider and sign the applications already approved by the committee at the ministry. Males being naturalised are announced in large groups, which presumably require only one ministerial signature per group.

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Special Branch told me that the debate about whether dual nationality is allowed or not under the Nationality Act and whether the Act should be amended to specifically prohibit it has been raging at the Interior Ministry for as long as anyone can remember. Their view, as stated by Jamesthailand, is that it is not specifically prohibited. However, as Mario says, the pro-xenophobia camp seems currently to be getting the upper hand at the ministry and is trying to impose its own interpretation on the naturalisation process. This seems an unfortunate retrogressive move when many countries are moving in the other direction, e.g. Vietnam has recently moved to allow dual nationality even for naturalised Vietnamese. I suspect it is a backlash caused by resentment at the provision in the 2008 Nationality Act that allowed foreign men married to Thai women to apply for nationality without having PR first that was clearly added to avoid conflicts with the constitutional provisions against gender discrimination.

Many people who got Thai nationality as result of being born in Thailand to alien parents have involuntarily lost their Thai nationality for "making use" of their father's nationality. However, nearly all of these people were also cited as being guilty of being not domiciled in Thailand for over 5 years (another reason for revocation), in addition to "making use" of their father's nationality. Normally no specific evidence was cited of the use of the other nationality but I presume this wasn't necessary due to the combined use of the 5 year for which evidence would have been readily available from Immigration. There has been one specific case of revocation of Thai nationality specifically on the grounds of making use of another nationality alone. In this 2004 case a British man provided the evidence himself by entering and leaving Thailand on his British passport. Clearly that constituted "use" of another nationality. There are no cases known to me of naturalised Thais involuntarily losing Thai nationality, although there are several of women who got it through marrying Thai men. What may be a concern to some, particularly with the possible advent of e-borders involving airlines automatically notifying citizenship to immigration services, is whether leaving Thailand to go on a short trip to a farang country without a visa for that country could in future be interpreted as "use" of former nationality.

Three years seems rather a long time between application and interview, given the small numbers who apply and rapid processing of them by Special Branch and the other government agencies responsible for vetting applicants before they are passed to the ministry, which only takes about two months. I am not sure why the minister needs several more years to consider and sign the applications already approved by the committee at the ministry. Males being naturalised are announced in large groups, which presumably require only one ministerial signature per group.

Hi Arkady - on this 5-year non-domicile rule, is there a process that reports those who spend more than 5 years living abroad, or is it let to the immigration officer to spot it and make a report to the Interior Ministry? Are there any cases of naturalised Thais living away for more than 5 years losing nationality? What about those who stay on a Tabien Bahn in Thailand while living abroad? Are they classed as non-domiciled even though they have a Thai reidential address?

Very confusing.

Edited by Thanet
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Hi Arkady - on this 5-year non-domicile rule, is there a process that reports those who spend more than 5 years living abroad, or is it let to the immigration officer to spot it and make a report to the Interior Ministry? Are there any cases of naturalised Thais living away for more than 5 years losing nationality? What about those who stay on a Tabien Bahn in Thailand while living abroad? Are they classed as non-domiciled even though they have a Thai reidential address?

Very confusing.

This provision was undoubtedly aimed at second generation Chinese who obtained Thai nationality through being born in Thailand to Chinese parents and most of those who have had their Thai nationality revoked fall into this category. However, an amendment to the Thai Nationality Act in December 1972 eliminated this automatic right to Thai citizenship by birth in Thailand and China also amended its own nationality law to make dual nationality illegal around the same time or earlier. These legal changes have reduced the flow of these revocations substantially, although they have continued into the 2010s, more recently involving more non-Chinese.

The 5-year rule applies both to naturalized Thais and those born in Thailand to two alien parents but, interestingly, not to women who adopt their Thai husbands' nationality. I haven't found any instances of naturalized Thais who had their Thai nationality revoked as a result of either the 5-year rule or for "making use" of their former nationality.

There is no detail in the Nationality Act about how the 5-year rule should be applied and I haven't come across any ministerial regulations on the subject, although no doubt some were issued at the time they were regularly revoking the Thai nationality of Chinese born in Thailand for staying away. I doubt whether being on a tabien baan would make any difference because anyone can stay on a tabien baan indefinitely and anyway I suspect that revocations under this provision occurred before the tabien baan system existed. I guess that Immigration records were used and that the revokees stayed continuously out of the country for over 5 years but can't be sure. Quite a few of these unfortunate Chinese were studying in China during the Cold War and not only lost their Thai citizenships but were declared persona non grata and could only return to visit their families in Thailand 30 years later. It is possible that they stayed away studying for over 5 years which was common in those days before budget airlines. I doubt that Immigration keeps a tally on Thais in these two categories these days to check compliance with the 5-year rule, although perhaps they did in the past. I suspect that those who had their Thai citizenships revoked under this provision in more recent times were people that the authorities were out to get and keep out of Thailand, due to suspicion of criminal or political activities. It has also become more common to revoke Thai nationality on the grounds of being a threat to national security or after being convicted of a serious crime like drug trafficking.

There was a letter in 1970 from the Interior Ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for cooperation in tracking down Thais with another nationality living abroad so the Interior could revoke their Thai nationality but apparently no action was taken by the MFA. No revocations of Thais born to Thai fathers (or mothers since 1992) have been reported since the 1962 Act and the MFA's website now contains helpful advice to dual national Thais on how to juggle passports while travelling.

Edited by Arkady
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I had my Interior Ministry interview today, just over three years after my initial application at Special Branch.

One question surprised me. The committee secretary, a rather fierce woman, asked whether I was willing to give up my current citizenship. I replied that if it was required, then I would. She then said that if I didn't, my Thai citizenship would be revoked. This wasn't consistent with what Special Branch had told me when I applied, so I had my secretary follow up with Special Branch. They said that the committee was not supposed to ask that question, and furthermore confirmed that (in their opinion) there was nothing in Thai Law to forbid dual citizenship, and that the Interior Ministry had no legal right to force me to give up my existing citizenship.

I'm told that the time from this stage to getting citizenship is mostly dependent on how long the Interior Minister takes to sign. It can take years. Apparently, the current minister has expressed the view that he doesn't view this as a priority relative to his other duties (except in special circumstances, which I will leave you to guess), so I am expecting a long wait.

By the way, how did the interview go, apart from the curved ball and were there a lot of other applicants there at the same time? Did they visit your home and office shortly before calling you for interview or have they given up doing this? Finally where do you have to go for the interview?

Good luck with the final stages of your application.

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From the Thai Law forum:

"Thai Cabinet to Review Thai Nationality Bill on Tuesday

29 January 2011

The Thai Cabinet is set to review the new Thai Nationality Bill this Tuesday, which will provide for tens of thousands of Thais living as “stateless” individuals along the Thai-Burmese border to apply for Thai citizenship.

The bill would replace the old bill which provides for individuals with stateless status to apply first for Burmese citizenship status, and then transfer their Burmese nationality status to Thai nationality status.

A committee would be created under the new bill, to include the permanent secretary to the interior and the provincial administration department chief, to check and verify the citizenship status of stateless persons and then approve Thai citizenship status for them.

The passage of this bill will grant legal status to thousands of the descendants of Siamese, whose families moved to modern Burma prior to the timeframe when the map of the country was redrawn 143 years ago. These stateless people now live in Chumphon, Ranong, Tak, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phangnga and all lack legal documentation.

Numerous people that back the bill, members of the Network of Stateless Thais, walked around 320 kilometers to meet with House Speaker Chai Chidchob. Around 300 members of the network traveled this distance to hand Chidchob their petition to act affirmatively on the proposed bill. In response, Mr. Chidchob stated he would make the bill a priority."

I wonder what happened at the cabinet meeting. I can't find any reports of it. The reports sounds as if this could be put to Parliament as a bill that could be a new Nationality Act amending the current 1965 Act but it is not very clear. It could in fact be a proposal not for a bill but for a cabinet resolution. There have been a lot of cabinet resolutions on nationality, particularly to do with minorities, many of which were wrapped up as statutory law in the 2008 Act. I am also not sure what is meant by the concept of applying for Burmese citizenship first and then transferring Burmese nationality to Thai nationality. I don't know of any part of the nationality law or regulations that deals with anything like that but there are a lot of ministerial regulations and cabinet resolutions I have not read.

The whole thing sounds very strange and no doubt the Thai Law forum got things muddled or something was lost in translation. However, we should keep alert for anything coming out of this that might effect nationality in general.

Edited by Arkady
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  • 2 weeks later...

A small update on my citizenship application.

I just called the Ministry of Interior to find out the status. I had my interview in 2008.

I was told that my application has now gone back for a third time to check on criminal records, drug offences etc. I was told that every time a new minister comes in, he asks that all outstanding applications be reviewed again.

So, there is no end in sight to this never-ending wait, I'm afraid.

Edited by TheChiefJustice
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A small update on my citizenship application.

I just called the Ministry of Interior to find out the status. I had my interview in 2008.

I was told that my application has now gone back for a third time to check on criminal records, drug offences etc. I was told that every time a new minister comes in, he asks that all outstanding applications be reviewed again.

So, there is no end in sight to this never-ending wait, I'm afraid.

Sorry to hear that. So far I know of cases where the entire process from application to ID card took between 18 months and 11 years. It seems that real fast track cases are not possible without some type of poo yai intervention. However, others may take between 3 and 11 years and others still may even never hear anything more at all and there is no obvious pattern. Perhaps they have internal guidelines to fast track those who have paid a large amount of tax or have other qualities they like or maybe they just select some lucky applicants at random and throw the rest back into the bucket for a few more years. I can well believe that re-checking of criminal records is ordered by new ministers, as a way to appear thorough and cast aspersions on the work of their predecessor and I remember Purachai, as Interior Minister in the Thaksin government, publicly ordering the police to re-check all applicants for citizenship and PR twice before deciding that none of the applicants were worthy of his signature. However, the checking only takes two months when candidates first apply and the current minister has already been in office for about two years, giving time to have re-checked the backlog several times over. At any rate, professional criminals are unlikely to be so patient as to wait patiently for a decade or so and are much more likely to go through the back door and get instant Thai nationality from corrupt district office officials.

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I know a guy who has been waiting 14 years...though he's an Indian tailor shop owner (not sure if they rank lower on the list of priority than farangs, but perhaps they do).

18 months is very fast. Mine took just over three years.

Well anyway, over 90% of successful applicants are Asian's, including a lot of Indians and other subcontinentals. I would think, if anything they like people who pay a lot of tax which includes corporate income tax, if you are a shareholder in your company. Tailor shop owners probably tend not to be over generous in their tax payments, as they take a lot of cash. I was originally sceptical about the 18 months but verified it with the Royal Gazette. That guy had paid a large amount of tax and had a reasonably senior poo yai (but not outrageously high up) to follow up for him a couple of times. But your 3 years is the next fastest I know of, along with our distinguished OP, Dbrenn, who was also 3 years. I also knew a farang who took 8 years, even though he had a well paid, respectable job and good connections (military I think) to help him. Sadly, he passed away 6 months after celebrating his citizenship but at least he died Thai. I suspect that outside of the applicants who have good connections to put on pressure for them, there is a lot of randomness and luck involved.

Elections are coming and even if the Dems and PJT can form another government, it will probably be some one else's turn at the Interior Ministry wheel. Hardly anyone ever gets a second term there.

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I know a guy who has been waiting 14 years...though he's an Indian tailor shop owner (not sure if they rank lower on the list of priority than farangs, but perhaps they do).

18 months is very fast. Mine took just over three years.

Well anyway, over 90% of successful applicants are Asian's, including a lot of Indians and other subcontinentals. I would think, if anything they like people who pay a lot of tax which includes corporate income tax, if you are a shareholder in your company. Tailor shop owners probably tend not to be over generous in their tax payments, as they take a lot of cash. I was originally sceptical about the 18 months but verified it with the Royal Gazette. That guy had paid a large amount of tax and had a reasonably senior poo yai (but not outrageously high up) to follow up for him a couple of times. But your 3 years is the next fastest I know of, along with our distinguished OP, Dbrenn, who was also 3 years. I also knew a farang who took 8 years, even though he had a well paid, respectable job and good connections (military I think) to help him. Sadly, he passed away 6 months after celebrating his citizenship but at least he died Thai. I suspect that outside of the applicants who have good connections to put on pressure for them, there is a lot of randomness and luck involved.

Elections are coming and even if the Dems and PJT can form another government, it will probably be some one else's turn at the Interior Ministry wheel. Hardly anyone ever gets a second term there.

There is no rhyme or reason.

One guy I know, Taiwanese born but grew up in Thailand from age three had basically waited his entire 20's with no news. Ethnically Chinese, indistinguishable from other Thai Chinese, very wealthy parents still had no luck. My last contact with him was about 2008, with no positive news then.

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