Thailand’s Immigration Bureau has begun preparing to launch a pre-screening system for visitors to the country before the end of 2012.

The new step, in addition to equipping immigration officials with foreign-language skills, is part of preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will kick off in 2015.

Immigration Bureau Chief Police Lieutenant-General Panu Kerdlarpphol explained that the new system will allow authorities to check passenger names against blacklists before their arrival.

He also commented that in order to prepare for the AEC, fluency in English would be a necessary qualification for immigration officers but noted that his bureau is also consider getting officials to learn a third language such as Lao, Cambodian, Mandarin or Japanese depending on the number of visitors from those countries.

The AEC will remove several barriers on travel within the ASEAN region, allowing for the freer migration of Southeast Asian citizens. Thai officials expect that many will seek to move into or through their country, which is in a strategic location in the region