PHUKET: Pol Col Apirak Hongtong, Superintendent of Phuket Provincial Immigration Office (PPIO), warned again today that foreigners needing visas renewed must complete the process themselves by traveling to another country. Pol Col Apirak said, “Many foreigners still renew their visas through agents and don’t go outside the country. The numbers have not decreased at all. We have also received reports that some Immigration officers are involved. “The Immigration Bureau in Bangkok has ordered us to be strict about this. Five officers at Padang Besar were recently punished for corruption after they were found to have received money from agents handling visa runs. “A total of 84 foreigners were also arrested because they didn’t go to renew their visas in person,” Pol Col Apirak said. He noted, “Even though Immigration is more strict about this, the numbers of foreigners doing this has not decreased at all. We know that in Phuket, especially in Patong, there are many agents and also some government officers involved in this. “We have received reports that, whereas in the past tourists had to pay 2,000 to 2,500 baht to agents, the price went up after we cracked down, to 4,000 baht. “All tourists know that they need to renew the visa themselves, but because they want convenience or, for some reason, they want to stay away from government officials, [they decide to use agents]. “Any foreigner who is found not to have done the process himself or herself, correctly, will be charged with illegal entry into Thailand, and may be expelled and blacklisted.” Assigning another person to obtain an entry stamp on one’s behalf is illegal under the Immigration Act, 1979.
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