Abuse and Crackdown on the Thai ED Visa
Visa abuse is not a novelty in Thailand and for the past years we have seen a race between foreigners who abuse the visa system to stay in Thailand (and those who assist them) and the Thai Immigration who always finish by catching up.
Those who wanted to stay in Thailand started to use other methods such as the Visa Run, the Tourist Visa or the Education Visa. The Thai immigration has for the past years done all it could to make visa run as inconvenient as possible for those using it creating in the process a new business activity. There was also recently a recent crackdown on back to back tourist visa but to date nothing was done in order to stop the abuse in relation to the Education Visa and we have seen Thai language schools and Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)/Diving school flourished.
It seems that the immigration is now catching up with those that were purchasing Thai language schools package in order to obtain ED visas and stays in Thailand most of whom are not actually following the courses they had paid for. Immigration Officers in Pattaya and Bangkok are now checking the Thai language knowledge of so called “students” requiring an extension of their ED visa based on Thai language school documents. We can only guess that this is only the first step and that other measures will be soon taken in order to reduce the number of ED visas which are delivered by Thai Embassies to the point where genuine students will be inconvenienced by the measures.
Finally, we cannot help to wonder whether Thai Immigration officers will also start to check the knowledge of the so called “students” of Muay Thai School (Thai boxing) and Diving School, that would certainly be an interesting spectacle that would make the trip to the immigration office worthwhile.