I’ve never entirely understood how VIP immigration services work in much of the world — how private firms are able to arrange for expedited immigration clearance, in some places you do not even have to be present when the ‘service’ gets your passport stamped.
No doubt there are places where there is an official fee charged, and the firm has a contract or official arrangement. But I’ve also used services where it’s seemed there’s an ‘understanding’ between the person escorting me and the official working the VIP or diplomatic immigration queue with no line.
It’s against U.S. law of course to bribe a public official of another country. Fortunately the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is specific in its prohibition, focusing on intent to obtain or retain business.
Still, bribery is frowned upon when made public in much of the world, even in places where it’s widespread.
I am shocked, shocked, to find that immigration officers in Phuket have been soliciting cash from tourists in exchange for expedited immigration!
There’s apparently a mini-scandal in the resort city of Phuket, Thailand where immigration queues can back up but where such petty annoyances can be circumvented for a fee. It sounds as though the issue is that immigration wasn’t fully staffing its booths, backing up, and then officers would directly solicit (rather than work with a third party to sell to) tourists.
“We have heard that many immigration counters are not open when tourists arrive on international flights, so officers are supposedly soliciting money from them to use a ‘VIP’ lane to avoid the long queues,” said Capt Somphong Narkthong of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command.
“A total of 19 counters are supposed to be open during international arrivals to support incoming tourists. From now on, every time a counter is closed during this time, immigration will have to explain the reason to Army officers.”
…Col Watcharapol told the national media, including television reporters, “In the past, we have had problems with our computer systems and a lack of staff on hand. But right now we are fully prepared to serve all incoming tourists.”
Have you ever paid a fee to expedite an immigration process?