I just learned yesterday by chance that I’d better leave the country forthwith if I want to keep on living in it!
Thirty years on, it’s the same asinine visa run.
The story is this: my visa and work permit expire on March 5, as every year. Last year, renewal went without a hitch: the mountain of paper submitted was complete. I didn’t even have to renew the work permit: the year before, the company employing me having made ‘substantial profits’, the Labour Department kindly allowed me to pay for two years’ worth of peace of mind.
This time around, essential pieces of evidence would be missing: because of a change in the staff at beans-counting level, the fully audited financial statement of the company for the year 2010 (repeat: 2010) along with the list of shareholders will not be available, I’m told, before at least the end of March. Obviously, the lone farang working in a Thai company of three hundred plus employees has to bear the consequences of that.
A routine visit to Personnel yesterday morning triggered renewed calls for advice to Immigration and the Labour Department.
Immigration explained that, whether I came on Friday 2 or Monday 5, they wouldn’t accept an incomplete file but would issue me with a one-time seven-day extension and then the door. I knew that, from such a predicament five years ago: I then earned a one-year reprieve to being my daughter’s phoo pokkrong (guardian). What was new was the following advice: leave asap for Vientiane and ask for a three-month re-entry visa at the Thai embassy there (along with a new batch of documents, of course), then come back in time to submit your other set of documents to the Labour Department, which will issue you with a three-month work permit. Three months later, start the applications for yearly visa and permit all over again, with by then complete documentation.
The Labour Department advice was: come today and submit your incomplete documentation, we’ll take note of it, and come back on Monday 5 with full documentation and the work permit will then mirror your visa.
So I went to the Labour Department – and lucky I did, too: a few lines in the forms this year have changed, so everything has to be redone (more work for Personnel and the phoo yai), and the health certificate I produced wasn’t standard: no mention of syphilis!
Then on to the Lao embassy to ask for a visa to Laos. Remarkably, it was issued within twenty minutes, just before closing. (In the old days, you were lucky to get one processed the next day.)
[PS: The French-educated man at the counter was being officious: I learned in Vientiane that, as a Frenchman, I’d have been issued a visa on arrival anyway.]
This morning I’ve spent only three and a half hours getting a Labour Department-sanctified bai raprong pheit (health certificate) from a public hospital, certifying that I don’t suffer from contagious leprosy, terminal tuberculosis, elephantiasis or syphilis (but nothing about Aids or mental derangement – I fear the worst), that my ‘health is strong’ [meaning: I’m strong, my health is good], that my ‘heart isn’t enlarged’ and that, after half a century of a-packet-a-day, my ‘lungs are clear’. All of this verbatim.
Now it’s time to pack up and go to the airport for a three-day bucolic break that will cost the company in the order of 500 euros, mostly spent on a Lao airline, a Lao guesthouse and Lao restaurants. Prathet Thai jong jareun!
PS: What are they going to ‘confiscate’ this time?