I thought that Thai Immigration procedures at Promenada were functioning relatively smoothly, as on my last visit, in January, I arrived around 7 am, got a queue number and had my one year extension of stay based on retirement and multi-entry permit in hand by mid-afternoon. Not bad I thought!
However, I recently received an email from one of our members, a 73-year-old gentleman, who wrote that things have changed due to what was rumored to be a recent personnel change at the office.
Here’s what he experienced the first day he arrived.
“As I had done in previous years, I arrived at the Immigration Centre at 5:00 am and to my surprise I found a long queue of which I was #79. Unlike previous years, there was no longer a separate queue for the Retirement Visa Extension. There is now only one queue for all TM7 type visas (Retirement Visa Extension, Student Visa and Medical Visa) which explained why I was #79 – most of the people in the queue were students.
Apparently, the queue change was made by the new head of the Immigration Office who took over in April this year. When the tickets were handed out round 8:30 am, I missed the cut by 4 as only 75 tickets were allocated for that queue on Thursday – I was one of about 50 who were told to come back the next day.”
So he returned the following day, even earlier!
“… Was back around 1:50 am and even at that hour, I was #22 in the ‘TM7’ queue (again most of those were students). A notice on the board said that only 60 tickets were available (25 in the morning and 35 after lunch) – at least another 50 people missed out. Fortunately, I was in the morning session and had my visa extension by 11:15 am and then had to come back after lunch to get my re-entry permit.”
This gentleman got the impression that Immigration staff were not happy with the queue change either, because previously one officer handled extension of stay based on retirement/medical visa while another handled student visa and like other desks in the office, it meant one officer was handling the same type of application which made checking the documentation easier.
The set up now is that there are two staff handling all three types of extension of stay and they have to keep switching from one type to another.
Not sure what they were trying to accomplish by changing the process but maybe by now they have returned to the way it used to be?
If anyone has some updated information on this issue that they could share please contact us at [email protected]
On a related matter, I had written a while back about the Priority Lane issue and was looking for some feedback as to whether anyone had tried to use it – this same gentleman wrote that he did try but he was turned down since he is only 73 and the age threshold is now 75 (reportedly 70 before). Apparently, the Priority Lane is included in the information shown on a large painted notice board outside the office. The zero as part of 70 has been scratched out and an inserted ‘scratched-in’ figure 5 (maybe a 6) has taken its place. As to how the Priority Lane works unfortunately remains a mystery.
Apparently, there is no relief in sight for us older folks and we are relegated to sitting on the few available little backless stools for hours on end waiting patiently.
As always, we are keenly looking for members who are interested in becoming involved in one of our committees such as the Program and Events, Donations and Special Events. If you would like to participate, please email us at [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.