And that’s putting it politely!
I just got my work permit renewed 2 Thursdays ago. They said to me to go into the immigration office the next day (Friday) so i can get my visa extended for another year. “Fantastic!” I thought, as i wasn’t expecting them to renew it. So off i trotted back home. I knew immigration can be tough but i wasn’t expecting anything like this…..
I woke up at 10. I though i’d wait until the afternoon and go in, just in case i can sneak in as the very last person at the end of the day. I got there at 1 and the place was packed. To be fair i knew i wasn’t going to get seen that day so it didn’t bother me when they said to come back at 7 on Monday.
Immigration opens at 8:30, so i got there at 8 o clock and there was one immigration officer handing out laminated cards. I got to the front of the counter only to be told i was too late (even though immigration hadn’t opened yet; You figure that one out….) and to come back tomorrow.
Not to be deterred i arrived at immigration at 7:30. I was lucky enough to get handed a laminated card. Go me! I got queue number 56. So i waited and waited, then i waited a little bit more because i’m English and it’s ingrained in our culture. I finally got ticket number 261 and got told to come back at 3:00. “Result!” I thought. I had a class at 4:30, so i could go back to bed, get there at 2:30, be in and out by 3:30 and off to work.
Got there at 2:30, they were on number 230. “No worries.” I thought. I’ll get seen at 3:30, be out by 4 and race to work. It’s an inconvenience but at least my visa is sorted.
By 3:30 they had moved up to number 237. I handed in my number and said to cancel it because i had to go to work. They looked extremely overwhelmed by the amount of work and stress they were under. In a way i felt sorry for them because they were painfully understaffed, and it’s not their fault. They were trying as hard as they could.
Woke up at 8. Decided there was no point in going there since if i couldn’t get seen when i arrived at 7:30, there would be no chance i’d get a ticket at 8:30….
“Enough is enough!” I thought. I woke up at 6 and went straight to immigration. It seemed a bit extreme to go there 2 hours before the place opened but i just wanted it done and out of the way. I got there and the queue went all the way around the car park. I’d arrived at 6:20 (Remember, immigration doesn’t open until 8:30) yet i still was number 96 in the queue. I got talking to some of the people in the queue. One guy said he got there at 5 and he was 31 in the queue. Another guy said he got there at 5:15 and he was number 37. Needless to say i didn’t get seen that day either….
Yep, NEXT Friday. Luckily i didn’t have a lot of classes last week or i would have missed out on a lot of money. I got there at 6:30 and the queue was smaller than the day before, but still pretty long. I got number 47 in the queue, followed by ticket number 247. They told me to come back at 2:45. I nearly cried with joy. I WAS GOING TO BE SEEN! I had the whole day off and i wasn’t leaving without that stamp. So i left.
I came back obviously! I got there at 2:45 and they were at number 235. After waiting for 2 hours and making some new friends in the queue i finally got seen at 4:35. They checked the paperwork (I was expecting there to be something wrong as i’d been so so much.) And lo and behold there was a typo on one of my extensive forms. They typed 2014 instead of 2015. I pointed out it was obviously a typo as the other forms all said 2015. Luckily she ignored it and put it through. Normally they are very particular and if 1 sheet of paper doesn’t match they refuse to process it. But common sense prevailed and i was out by 5:20!
Like i said, the immigration officials are not to blame. Thailand has just recently changed its visa regulations and the immigration office is feeling the brunt of it. I hope that things get sorted soon, for their sake. It can’t be healthy to turn up at work at 8 in the morning and literally see hundreds of people waiting to see you every day. I felt stressed when people were queuing to see me when i was a bar manager, and i’m talking about two or three people! Al least i don’t have to do this for another year. I’m sure it’ll be sorted by then. I hope……