Getting a Thai visa can feel like crossing a field full of landmines. On one hand, the rules always seem to be changing, while the immigration officer holds a lot of power over your application. A few tips will help you out, no matter what the current rules may be.
First, dress professionally. Nothing hurts your chances than looking like a slob, and it’s certainly something the immigration officer may look at. Start with clean clothes, khakis or slacks, and a collared shirt – polo shirts and dress shirts both work fine. For women, a conservative, long dress or skirt paired with a shirt that covers your shoulders will be fine. Do a quick smell check, and aim for ‘neutral’ instead of ‘overpowering’.
Second, ensure your documents are clean and in order. Hand over the documents needed in an organized manner. You get bonus points if you’ve brought them in a portfolio of some kind, or at least something to protect them. In general, try to reduce the number of things an immigration officer has to do before looking at your paperwork. Double-check your paperwork before making the trip to the office – nothing’s worse than waiting in line, getting to the officer, and being sent away because you forgot one form.
Third, be ready to answer any questions the official may ask. Tell the truth – they’re better at detecting lies than you think! You might even have some ideas of your itinerary through the country, or some specific places you’d like to go. If you’ll be working or studying in Thailand, have some specific names of the people (or schools or businesses) you’ll be working with.
Fourth, smile and be pleasant to sit next to! The officer has sat next to more than her share of foreigners, and not all of them will look or smell as pleasant as you. This doesn’t mean you have to suck up, but it does mean you should try to make the process as easy as possible. In short, don’t let your hygiene or clothes be the reason you lose the visa!
Fifth, show up early – there’s always a line. Immigration is almost always busy, so get there early. Bring your tablet or a good book to keep you occupied for up to a few hours. Try to be patient – they’re always busy.