A Retiring Attitude

 |  August 31, 2010

An expat friend came to me the other day telling me about a problem he had at an immigration check point. “Everything was in order”, he said. “I was polite and did nothing wrong. But the immigration officer wouldn’t give me my visa and ended up throwing my passport at me. Those people are just idiots.”

Well, after questioning my friend a little further, I found that there was a little bit more to the story. Yes, everything was in order except the fact that the visa that he had been granted in Canada had already expired. He neglected to tell me that he failed to notice that there was a ‘Valid Until’ date which was a couple of months old. When he politely shouted out that he knew his rights and that the immigration officer should “get a brain”, I think that the officer may have taken umbrage. But throwing the passport back at him? Well, maybe it was more like a strong push, my friend corrected.

I have a suggestion about how to avoid these kinds of problems at the immigration office. Let me use a golf metaphor. Sorry, that’s just the way we old guys think. Fellow golfers ask me, “How do you deal with sand traps? I have a foolproof answer to how to avoid trouble in the sand traps. “Don’t hit your ball into the sand in the first place.” The same goes for problems at the immigration office.

If you are here on a long-term visa, like a retirement visa, you will need to extend that visa each year, and also report every 90 days. That means that at least five times a year you will have to mosey on down to our friends at immigration. I have found that the only time I, or anyone I know, has had a problem down there is when we have done something wrong, we misunderstood a rule, or when we tried to get around an immigration loophole.

Here is how you stay out of the trouble. Read every rule you can about the visa you are applying for. Do everything exactly as is required. Go early, before your visa expires. Bring extra copies of everything, including pictures. Dress nice, smile, and speak softly. The immigration people want to give you a visa. It gets you out of their hair. Just follow the rules.

On my last trip to immigration, to report my 90 days, I was in and out in four minutes. Now if I could only stop hitting my golf balls into those darn sand traps.

For further information about retiring to Thailand check out Hugh’s site www.retire2thailand.com

Hugh’s advice for the month: It seems like the slowest, and therefore the best times to go to immigration are Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I try to avoid Mondays and Fridays.