Immigration Officers Raid Popular Co-working Space

 | Wed 1 Oct 2014 23:41 ICT

CityNews – Immigration officers, police and soldiers this morning raided a communal workspace in the Suthep area that is popular with foreign ‘digital nomads’, reports said.

Photo: Chiang Mai CityNews.

Witnesses told CityNews that between 10 and 18 foreigners were rounded up at Punspace in Sirimangkalajarn Soi 11 and taken to the immigration office.

The officials entered the building – where people can pay to use the office facilities by the day or week – and demanded to see the passports of everyone inside, the witnesses said. Only one man had his passport on him, and he was released when officers saw that he had a valid tourist visa.

The rest were “invited” to go to the immigration office, where staff checked whether any had overstayed visas, been blacklisted or were working illegally, an immigration officer told CityNews. None were arrested and all were free to go after several hours.

One of the foreigners said the immigration officials treated them “extremely kindly” and thought they were all working for the company, rather than simply using its office space and services.

“It turns out that the reason for the raid wasn’t because we were working online, it was because they thought Punspace was illegally hiring western staff without work permits. They did not know the concept of a co-working space or why we would pay to use an office,” he said on his blog.

The owners of Punspace were helpful, he added, bringing lunch for those affected and giving them a free month’s use of the facilities.

Chiang Mai immigration officials said at a press conference in August that “digital nomads” – people who can work remotely from anywhere – would be able to do so on a tourist visa.