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2 Bangkok Immigration Officers Suspended Amid Bribery Investigation

Foreigner said officers told him business visa wouldn't be approved without 20,000-baht kickback.

Bangkok Chaeng Wattana Immigration Office

Two Chaeng Wattana immigration officers have been suspended for allegedly demanding a 20,000-baht bribe to approve a foreigner’s business visa.

Royal Thai Police spokesman Pol. Col. Krishna Pattanacharoen said Tuesday acknowledged a video posted to Facebook by the foreign visa applicant, who said he had prepared all of the required documentation for a non-immigrant “B” visa but, at the end of the process, the officer made it clear the application would be rejected without an envelope containing 20 1,000-baht notes.

The foreigner said he was told that “Thailand is a good place to be right now and allows foreigners to work. If you can’t get the visa, where would you go?”

The applicant reported the officer to Immigration Police Division 3, which covers the Bureau’s Nonthaburi headquarters in the Chaeng Wattana government complex. An investigative panel quickly found merit in the accusations, finding the officer who met with the foreigner and his boss culpable.

The two have been transferred to inactive posts – bureaucratese for suspended – pending completion of the investigation.

Corruption among immigration officers is Thailand’s worst-kept secret and often considered a “price of doing business” for foreigners in Thailand. Chaeng Wattana officers routinely are known to reject tax and income documents deemed perfectly acceptable by the Revenuer Department and Excise Office unless they are paid huge bribes, often in the amount of 35,000 baht.

Only rarely is anything ever done about it, and then only usually when the cases are so egregious they can’t be ignored or end up in the headlines.

In 2018, a police superintendent and three deputy chief inspectors at Don Mueang International Airport were removed for orchestrating systemic bribes of tourists seeking visas on arrival.

Last year, two immigration officers at Suvarnabhumi airport were fired for colluding in forging visa stamps – for a price of course – for foreigners entering the country illegally.