Over the past couple weeks I’m sure most of our students, in fact most of the students on Koh Samui have noticed a sudden change in the way the Royal Thai Immigration Department works. The management of Koh Samui’s immigration department has been changed, and so rules new to Koh Samui are now being enforced, rules which were recently were put into effect in Bangkok and Phuket.
This change has brought about many things, panic in both the students and the schools, un-certainty with regards to extension of many visas, a large question mark on the future of the Education Visa, and confusion on how the system is now actually working. I write this now to clear up the facts, put down miss-information and hope to reinsure many unsure minds.
Contrary to general opinion, people are still allowed to extend their visa up to a maximum of 1 year. No official rule has changed in this regard. However, a couple changes have been implemented;
• Extend in Person: Before, you used to be able to let your school go to immigration for you, now this has changed. You must go to the immigration department in person to extend your visa.
• Cost: The cost of extending visas is 2,000 THB. You can no longer pay ‘extra’ to have to done right away, no questions asked. The cost is now transparent so people know exactly what is being paid for.
• Interview: When extending your visa most students will be asked to interview. In these interviews the student will be asked a series of questions about the following;
- Their stay in Thailand.
- Their stay on Koh Samui.
- Their reason for studying.
- Their reason for being on an Education Visa.
- About their financial situation.
- And other general questions about their life.
• Test: Students are now subject to be tested on their language of studying.
- English Students: Students studying English will have to write a short essay, A page of A4 paper at most, to demonstrate their English skills. The topic is your choice, but something about your stay in Thailand is always better to show immigration. Immigration’s ability to check the test is limited due to non-native speakers working at the immigration department.
- Thai Students: Students studying Thai will be expected to know some level of spoken Thai and be able to write all 44 consonants and 6 commonly used vowels. Their ability to check this test is far better when compared to the English test. As the staff can actually speak Thai they can assess fairly accurately the level of ones Thai.
• Attendance: It is now required by law for students to attend school 4 days per week, 2 hours each day. Immigration will ask to see this when extending your visa, and expect to see your attendance above 75%. This is law and so the school can do nothing regarding changing it. However please ask in school for more details about the change in study hours.
• Denial: While many students are worrying about being denied and told to leave the country, this has not happened yet. All students who have been to extend their visas have done so successfully. The few students who have been ‘denied’ at immigration have been so because of other issues, mainly behavior and attitude when at immigration.
How to act
When attending immigration please remember this simple rule.
- Behave yourself – Do not become aggressive or rude with the staff. You are asking them to extend your visa, key word being ‘ASKING’. They DO NOT have to extend it, so if you are rude to them, they can simply say no. Almost 95% of all students denied by immigration have been so because they have been rude to the wrong person.
Be patient, they have a lot of work.
Be understanding, they are only doing their job.
Be calm, getting angry solves nothing.
Be respectful, they are an official government body.