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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket immigration offers 30 day extensions for stranded foreigners

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: The Thaiger

“Please, any foreigners coming to the Immigration office must wear face masks. If they don’t have one, they will have to go get one first, then we can talk.”

On Wednesday the Sorts and Tourism Minister said that he’d been discussing the problem of overstaying tourists and visitors, due to a lack of flights or border closures in their home countries, with Thailand’s immigration officials. Now some immigration offices are announcing an official ‘clemency’.

In Phuket, foreigners stranded in Thailand due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak may apply to Phuket Immigration for a 30 day visa extension to avoid the need to travel, thus risking infection and mandatory quarantine if they try and repatriate – the latest information posted in The Phuket News this morning.

The deputy chief of Phuket’s Immigration Department, Udom Thongchin, says that the extensions will be issued both to tourists and foreigners staying on other types of visas.

“It is very difficult for foreigners to leave the country due to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, and doing so right now risks infection. So we are issuing 30 day extensions in accordance with immigration regulations that allow for such measures during special circumstances, such as an outbreak of disease.”

The extensions will cost the standard 1,900 each. But it’s not quite as simple as all that. Udom said that any foreigners seeking to extend their visas will require a letter from the embassy or consulate of their home country.

“The letter must be from the embassy or consulate requesting that the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau allow the foreigner to stay in the country longer. It must name the foreigner and it must have the sentence that the foreigner ‘is unable to travel due to the COVID-19 coronvirus situation.’ It must be an actual letter, hand over with a copy of their passport at the Phuket Immigration Office during office hours.”

Anyone who has already overstayed but has yet to receive such a letter from their embassy can wait until they have the letter in hand.

“Immigration can wait for this.”

Udom confirmed that foreigners are being turned away from the Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town if they do not wear a face mask. He pointed out that his immigration officers wear gloves while interacting with foreigners and handling documents at the office.

“Also, we clean the seat and table every time after people use it.”

At this stage there has been no confirmation of a nation-wide roll out of the ‘clemency’ visa extensions for an estimated 500,000 tourists and visitors stranded in Thailand. We will post more information and confirmations as they come to hand.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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