For years I have heard westerners in Thailand complain about the ambiguous
visa laws and their arbitrary enforcement by the Thai authorities. Now the
Thai government has finally stated a clear and comprehensive set of visa
requirements and the western whining goes on.
If you are married or over 50 years old a one year visa
extension is a simple process, just as those applying for a marriage visa
have a simple, understandable set of requirements to fulfill, and
immigration seems to be applying those rules in an even-handed manner.
I hope that in the near future the government institutes
what might be called a ďTĒ visa for language teachers. While countries
such as Laos and Vietnam recognize the need for and value of qualified
English teachers, Thailand generally lags far behind those states.
First of all mandatory testing of qualifications need be
instituted for language teachers of both Thai and western nationalities. Too
many Thai students with fourteen years of English tuition cannot speak the
language; students are being cheated of a proper education. Before being
hired by an institution the person applying should be required to pass a
standard test of both language and teaching skills, and once accepted the
employer register the teacher with the proper authorities. After sixty or
ninety days the teacher should be evaluated and if qualified a letter
stating term of employment and salary provided so that immigration is able
to present the proper visa. This system would provide the country with
qualified teachers holding proper work permits paying fair taxes. Schools
would have to provide a fair wage and benefits to qualified teachers.
Next a ďWĒ class visa for those who work for NGOs,
private enterprise and freelance work would provide the government with tax
income, and the individual with legal standing in Thailand. One applying for
this visa in the case of NGOs and private enterprise would present a letter
from the entity stating wages and term of contract. Immigration would
provide the proper term visa and work permit. Once again the individual,
employer and government would be protected. Freelance workers would be
provided with honest receipts by employers, which would be passed on to the
appropriate tax office, and that office providing documentation to the
individual to present to immigration in order to achieve legal status.
There are sure to be some people unhappy about the
marriage and retirement visa regulations, but as long as they are clear,
precise and even handedly applied the law is fair. Any country is free to
set those laws and never will satisfy everyone. Just as in the U.K.,
America, Germany and elsewhere there will be people who want to reside in
the country, but are not qualified. Thatís each countries decision and
good on them for enforcing those laws.
Edís Note: So what do the rest of you feel about this? We will publish
short letters on this subject over the next few weeks.