HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

One expatís thoughts on the visa situation

One expatís thoughts on the visa situation

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.
Dean Swift
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.