Visas for Thai Friends
Because of the ease at which people from western countries travel around the world, they often assume that it is easy for people from countries like Thailand to visit their home country. For the USA, UK and Australia (the primary countries yours truly is familiar with), this is not the case at all.
To travel to these countries requires jumping through a number of difficult hoops, climbing several mountains, negotiating assorted rivers and streams, kayaking shark infested waters and doing this while juggling six bowling balls blindfolded. Often, at the end of this arduous procedure, the friend is refused a visa.
Of course, in order to travel outside one’s country, a passport is necessary. This is usually not a problem. If your friend has a Thai national identity card, they can get a passport. Some people, for various reasons, do not have a Thai ID card. If they don’t, it is impossible to get a passport.
Step number one then, is to determine whether your friend has a national ID and, if so, get a Thai passport.
In order to go to the USA, UK or Australia, a Thai national needs to have a visa. The visa is issued from the embassy of the country they want to visit.
All three of these countries are extremely strict about issuing visas. It is not simply a matter of showing up there, flashing a Thai smile, paying the fee and then getting the visa. Not at all!
And no, you can’t, as a US citizen, for example, help them. At least not very much. Your friend is pretty much on their own.
Generally speaking, your friendly but naïve tourist goes off to the American, UK or Australian Embassy with their friend of one week and a brand new Thai passport. After a period of time, usually longer rather than shorter, weeks rather than days, the visa will be denied.
Yes, the naïve tourist complains to anyone who will listen and sometimes even makes a scene. He also returns to America, the UK or Australia without his friend. Similar scenarios are being played out at many European embassies.
Note: If your friend is denied a visa, that denial is stamped in their passport and doesn’t look good should they apply again.
Is there nothing you can do? Well, yes, there are a few things you can give a try.
First, it helps to understand what the embassy wants. There is a logic to it, even though you may not agree with the political underpinnings.
Plainly put, your embassy wants to make as sure as possible that your friend returns to Thailand. They want some sort of documentation that establishes the high likelihood of them coming back.
Here are some things that help in this regard:
Your friend should have a job and be able to show that they have held it for awhile. Obviously, some jobs in the field of, shall we say, “entertainment,” are not satisfactory. If they have been a teller at Bangkok Bank for 4 years, however, this is a good sign.
If your friend owns property, this too is good. If they have a bank account with several hundred thousand baht in, this is also helpful.
If your friend has been out of the country – especially a western country – and returned, this can give a good impression. If they haven’t, you might consider taking them to Singapore or Malaysia for a few days because this can look good. (Don’t forget, if you leave Thailand, your visa is void even if you have time left on it.)
Note: Even if your friend has all of the above and more, there is no guarantee they will be granted a visa. Yours truly has had students from well-to-do families be denied a student visa.
Like it or not, landless waitresses who cannot establish that they have a legitimate salary and some money in the bank, will simply not be given a visa.
Bangkok and other major cities have law firms that specialize in helping Thais get visas. The cost, results and competence of these firms varies widely. Try to get a recommendation from someone who knows or do a lot of shopping around.
If your friend is someone who you feel romantically attracted to and are considering marriage, it would be wise to see a lawyer specializing in immigration procedures in your own country.
A couple of bits of advice relative to this latter issue. Write letters often and save them. If you use email, save it all. Take pictures when you are together and make sure that the date stamp is switched on. These things help you establish that you have known the person for awhile.
You’re going to have to climb that cliff slowly anyway, so you might as well make sure that with each step you have a good foothold.
For more information, visit Thai Marriage Visa