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Immigration plans big improvements



Immigration plans big improvements | Thaiger

PHUKET: Phuket Immigration has announced plans to radically improve its service to tourists and foreigners living in Phuket. Pol Col Apirak Hongtong, the Superintendent of the Phuket Immigration Office, told the Gazette today that many foreigners who come to Phuket want to extend their stay in the country, but when their Immigration stamps expire, they do not know the correct procedure for renewing or extending. “We care about tourists and foreigners living in Phuket,” Col Apirak stressed, “and the Immigration Department is ready to advise them on the correct way to do things under Thai law.” He added that, with the government planning many projects in Phuket, such as the International Convention and Exhibition Center, the island will have more visitors, both tourists and businesspeople, and must therefore be prepared to serve greater numbers. To this end, a number of measures will be taken to ensure foreigners can get their immigration requirements met more easily. These include: * A mobile visa office to take service to popular tourist sites in Phuket, with service hours of 8 am to 8:30 pm. “We’ll need some time to prepare this because at present we have only 30 officers and we need to prepare the vehicle and set it up with computer links,” Col Apirak said. * In October a number of young women graduates will join the Phuket Immigration Department, checking passports at Phuket International Airport. “We want to improve service by having more energetic officers serving people coming to Phuket. We will also install machines to check passports, which will make the process faster,” Col Apirak commented. He added that he has put in a request for digital cameras to be installed at the airport Immigration desk to take pictures of all arrivals. These pictures will be used for comparison whenever Phuket receives requests from Interpol to check for wanted criminals believed to be on the island. When a match is made, it will be easier to track them down. * The foreign language abilities of the Immigration Department will be improved, initially with the help of volunteers. The focus will be on English, Russian and Scandinavian languages. “Starting next month, we will be seeking volunteers from among the foreigners who have lived in Thailand for more than 10 years, and who speak Thai, to help us to serve people who contact the Immigration office,” Col Apirak said. Commenting on recent bad press that the Immigration Police have received, Col Apirak said, “I never think badly of foreigners. All the actions that we have taken recently have been solely on the orders of Bangkok or of the Phuket Provincial Government. The Immigration Office has no powers to set rules or to do bad things to foreigners.” Finally, Col Apirak said that any tourist or resident foreigner who has problems with Immigration law may contact him on his mobile phone at any time of day or night. He gave the number: 01-8936767.


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