Thailand has long been an attractive destination for Western expats - where money goes further and can buy a good quality of life. But the revival of an arcane immigration law has angered the expat community and got them questioning their freedoms in
Thailand, as George Styllis reports from Bangkok.
I've been made to feel as if I'm not welcome here , says Zareeka Gardner, a 25-year-old English teacher from the US. Since arriving in Thailand in April, she has racked up
immigration fines totalling 12,400 baht (£330). A large part of that is because her apartment manager failed to promptly file a form saying where she was staying.
Thailand's Immigration Act contains a clause requiring all
foreigners to let the authorities know where they're staying at all times.
Previously this job has been done by hotels collecting guests' details, or it was just ignored. But as of March, the government has been applying the law
without compromise or exception.
Landlords must notify immigration authorities whenever a foreigner returns home after spending more than 24 hours away from their permanent residence - be it a trip abroad or even leaving the
province. The same applies to foreigners married to Thais - their Thai spouse, if they own the house, must file the report.
The form, known as a TM30, must be submitted within 24 hours of the foreigner's arrival or the property
owner will be fined. If the fine isn't paid, the foreigner will be unable to renew their visa or other permits until that's rectified.
Long-term foreign residents of the kingdom have spent the weekend scratching their heads in bewilderment over the baffling requirements of the now notorious TM30 form after a recent forum at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) with senior
Thai immigration officials present on the panel.
On Thursday evening at the FCCT, foreign expats and guest speakers alike expressed concerns about the lack of clarity and consistency in the application of the TM30 regulation, and
the officials said they would do their best to forward the complaints and queries to Immigration Bureau