The regulation change, which was issued by the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) head office in Bangkok in Aug 2017, was revealed this week after a foreigner contacted The Phuket News asking for clarification on why he was required to have a criminal history check so he could marry his Thai fiancée.
“Specifically they are making farang (foreigners) who are marrying Thai get a criminal record check and a personality profile check to make sure farang are not marrying just to get a marriage visa,” the expat wrote.
“I will only recount to you what is said in the regulations issued,” the Head of the Muang District Office’s Registration department (Palad), who declined to be named directly, confirmed to The Phuket News on Wednesday (Feb 21).
“I did not think of these myself. So please write your story according to the regulations and not as an interview with me,” he requested.
The marriage registration model issued by the DOPA in June 2015 says, “The Department of Provincial Administration considers that marriage of foreigners to Thai citizens will have effects on socio-economic conditions…
“Where in some cases of the marriage of a Thai woman and foreign man, some foreigners will use a marriage certificate to apply for a visa to extend their stay in Thailand, work without a permit, and other illegal activities.
“Some officials have also been found to be involved in this,” said the notice.
“In order to prevent this, the Department of Provincial Administration sets a model in the case of a foreign man registering to marry a Thai woman, which are to be strictly enforced by each district office,” it said.
The Palad at Phuket’s Muang District Office – which covers all of Phuket Town, Rassada, Wichit, Chalong, Kata, Karon, Rawai and Nai Harn – explained that criminal record checks are one way which all district offices in Phuket have enforced the model set by the department.
Of note, in August last year, the DOPA issued another notice under the regulations of which it was specified that foreigners from any of 13 countries were recently being “more commonly involved in wrongful marriage and family registration”.
“Many groups of foreigners in Thailand, legally in the country on a Non-immigrant Visa-O from some 13 countries have been registering for marriage certificates and family registration in order to wrongfully obtain a marriage visa, be involved in illegal drugs, or conduct other criminal activities,” said the 2017 notice.
In order to check this is not the case and the marriage registration or family registration is for correct reasons, all district offices are to check additional information from aliens from the list of 13 countries, which the Palad denied to reveal to the public.
“It’s better not to reveal the 13 countries. It might cause damage for the countries,” he said.
The DOPA notice also stated that the Chief of each District Office – in Phuket there are three: Muang, Kathu and Thalang – was to be responsible for being the registrar of all marriage certificates.
The Palad clarified that in the process of criminal background checks for marriage certificates, fingerprints will be taken during the registration process and sent to the Forensic Police.
“The police are the ones who conduct the checks. They can only check for criminal records within Thailand, it is not possible to check for records in other countries,” he said.
“The time taken for the certificate to be approved or rejected will depend on other circumstances surrounding the foreigner.
“This includes whether the foreigner has been here a long time, already have children with a Thai person, have businesses here, and so on,” said the Palad.
“All of this is supporting evidence that they are not registering for marriage for the wrong reasons, and will mean the process will be faster. It can take just one day,” he added.
“However if they are a tourist for example, hasn’t been here very long, there may be further checking into the history of the person.
If a person is found to have a criminal record relating to drugs or breaking immigration laws, the office will refuse the marriage certificate, the Palad warned.
“We cannot issue a marriage certificate for anyone with a criminal record that makes us suspicious of their intent in registering for marriage with a Thai person,” he said.
The Palad refused to elaborate on what was regarded a “suspicious” criminal history.
“We have to look at each case,” he said.