On Thursday morning, armed with a double batch of documents – the ministry-related ones and the company-related ones, which I must present ahead of time even though the batch is not complete – I go to
Immigration the Labour Department, 9 km away. A short queue and one of the officers examines the ministry-related documents. Where is the such-and-such form to be filled by the ministry? Drat! That isn’t in the batch prepared by Personnel, perhaps not even in her list. So I go back to the ministry.
The document is completed over lunch, as it were. Then I go back to the Labour Department. A long queue this time (thirty-one persons ahead of me, a full hour’s wait). By 3 o’clock, it’s my turn, and soon two officers are involved and the section head as well. This more than middle-aged woman is more than understanding and helpful: she calls the head of Personnel, the conversation lasts and lasts, and if I try to sort out the various developments, it goes something like this:
– there is no new work permit book for my new position: it will be mentioned on my current nine-year-old book as ‘adviser to the Ministry of Culture’;
– come back next Tuesday for it; this mention should be enough for Immigration to issue you a one-year visa;
– since you will have two ‘employers’ you must pay twice the fee (so, twice 3 000 baht or 75 euros for one year; Immigration is less greedy: 2 000 baht or 50 euros, and 1 000 baht or 25 euros for one re-entry permit, if I happen to need to leave the country during the year);
– per regulation, you cannot resign from the company currently employing you for another thirty days;
– regarding the company’s documents, you must absolutely bring next Tuesday three missing documents, this, this and that, otherwise…
Otherwise is still unclear in my mind. When, back home as late as 5:30pm, I talk over the phone with the head of Personnel, she tells me that she’s been told by the section head at Labour that, if the documents required are not presented on time, the work permit cannot be extended beyond May 30! She further informs me that the audited financial statement of the company for FY2010 will be signed Friday (today) but further steps are required (such as payment of back taxes and acknowledgment thereof) which might or might not be completed by Tuesday.
All parties at Immigration, Labour, the ministry and my company have shown great willingness to help but Immigration and Labour regulations limit manoeuvrability. Yet, it’s clear something’s got to give. At this point, I can only hope for either some further goodwill on the part of Labour to extend my work permit on the strength of sponsoring by the Ministry of Culture or some further goodwill on the part of Immigration for the same reason (even if this happens on the last day of current visa cum work permit).
A wonderful long weekend ahead, thank you.
The silver lining is that, during the multiple waiting sessions at Immigration, Labour and the ministry, I’ve finished reading two more stories by Win Lyovarin from his latest collection, Sen Sommut (Imaginary lines), and that, to calm my nerves in the evening I’ve given another reading and fine-brushing to that buffalo novel that kept me busy for some two hundred hours during the past month: I’m merely waiting for the author’s clarification of three minor points to send the final text back.