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Immigration ups scrutiny of foreign visitors, overstayers

WITH THE Asean Economic Community having begun at the start of the year, Thailand has stepped up scrutiny of foreigners in the country and is ready to blacklist any overstayers, a source said.

Immigration officials have increased checks of tourists arriving at several border points, demanding details on their trips here.
One regular traveller from Laos told The Nation recently that officials demanded a thorough examination of her passport, as well as particulars of her temporary stays in the country.
“They asked me to write complete information concerning the hotels I would use as well as phone numbers – something that has never happened before,” Pathumrat Saisanit said.
This closer scrutiny and inspection is part of the measures launched by Immigration Police to weed out foreign criminals. 
The bureau has requested cooperation from hotels nationwide to report check-ins within 24 hours. The information would be uploaded and linked with the bureau’s database automatically.
Pol Lt General Natthatorn Praosunthorn, head of the Immigration Police, said officials had learned that some overstayers were involved with crimes, especially drugs, or with mafia gangs, or have arrest warrants out for them from overseas.
So, starting from March 20, the bureau will blacklist overstayers as a precautionary measure. 
Individuals would be blacklisted for three years if they have stayed illegally for more than one year, or be blacklisted for five years for a three-year overstay, or blacklisted for 10 years for an overstay of five years or more.
“We would like to screen out and intercept bad guys first as disrespecting the law shows intention,” he said.
Thailand last month turned on an advanced screening system linked to immigration offices nationwide and airlines.
Before passengers arrive, the system compares their name with those on blacklists and alerts officials if there are any match-ups.
Thailand has also been collaborating with its neighbours to prepare for the opening of the region, as massive flows of tourists are anticipated, he said. 

Published : January 11, 2016

By : Patlada Konthong The Nation