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UPDATE: Visa amnesty signed by PM

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Twitter

UPDATE: PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today signed an executive order granting visa amnesty to foreigners left stranded in Thailand by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The order, released by the Ministry of Interior, grants “special permission for some classes of aliens to stay in the Kingdom.”

It was signed by Prayuth and head of the Ministry of Interior, Anupong Paochinda.

ORIGINAL STORY:
With many flights cancelled, entire fleets grounded and hotels ordered closed, thousands of tourists and expats across Thailand are in a state of limbo… unable to leave, not allowed to stay. To make matters worse, social distancing requirements are creating chaos at crowded immigration offices nationwide, and onerous new requirements have been added for visa extensions. The situation has put foreigners and immigration officials at additional risk.

But the Immigration Bureau has announced that the Cabinet has approved a plan to offer automatic visa extensions for foreigners, though it will not come into effect until it has been signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

An immigration spokesman says a set of new rules, which also includes visa amnesty, has been approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and is due to be inked by the PM soon. The measure follows complaints of overcrowding and risk of virus infection at immigration offices across the country.

“It will be signed by the PM soon. Please wait for official announcements and don’t fall for online rumours.”

Details of the new rules emerged yesterday after local blogger Richard Barrow wrote on his social media platforms that the bureau has proposed plans to give every foreign national an automatic 30 day stay extension, citing sources within Immigration.

Richard also noted that the 90-day reporting will be temporarily suspended and those who have obtained permanent resident status will not lose their status if they are not able to return to Thailand within a one year period.

Visa amnesty will be granted to every foreigner, but the post did not elaborate on how it will be enforced.

“This is ready to be implemented straight away, but the Immigration Bureau cannot start until it has been signed by the PM. From what I understand, it’s already in the prime minister’s office. They are optimistic he will sign it very soon.”

“I just got off the phone with another Immigration official. So, it looks like the photos that I tweeted of long queues have caught the attention of the right people.”

But immigration officials said that concerned foreigners shouldn’t rely on online rumours…

“Who is he? He is not the Immigration Bureau. How could he come out to say something like that?We will make official announcements when it becomes effective.”

SOURCE: Khaosod English | thaivisa

 

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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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