On Monday afternoon, I got a call from Immigration: ‘You failed to report to us three months ago.’
But I did: at the end of May, I went all the way to the Government Centre to renew my one-year visa!
This doesn’t count! You have to report to us every three months without fail. You’ll be fined 2000 baht.
Recap: a quarter century ago, Immigration for reasons of their own issued a regulation demanding of all foreigners to report every three months to state their current address. The regulation was simply ignored until three or four years ago when Immigration moved from its cramped Suan Phlu headquarters to the spacious Government Centre way out there in the boondocks. A section was created specifically to enforce that regulation and hassle us, long-term ‘non-immigrants’, full-time.
For a couple of years, having failed to leave the country, I wasn’t affected by this imbecility. I was even told by the section boss (a woman) to simply ignore it until I took a trip abroad and on my return the three-month clock would start ticking.
On 29 May 2012, as my visa was renewed for yet another year, for the first time ever my passport bore the mention ‘Notification of residence must be made every 90 days’. Since then, I’ve dutifully used the ‘easy’ option of sending by EMS every three months the relevant form, plus photocopies of passport pages and a stamped return envelope. At the end of May 2013, I went instead to Government House for another renewal of the visa.
And now this ‘non-immigrant’ of 35 years and counting, adviser to the Ministry of Culture and translator extraordinaire of Thai literature is to be honoured with a fine of 2000 baht for ignoring that applying for and receiving a one-year visa is not the same as giving ‘notification of residence’.
Every foreign ‘non-im’ resident I know resents this demeaning and totally useless regulation born out of some xenophobic cop’s brain. We resent it because we are being treated as potential criminals. We resent it because it is redundant since we give not only notification of residence but plenty of other documentation when we apply for and are granted the yearly visa. And we resent it because it is patently useless and contrary to normal practice in democratic countries. The estimable staff of that section would be better employed manning Immigration booths at the airport, which are perennially short of staff.