Expats welcome online visa extensions?

The Immigration Bureau unveiled its online visa extension (e-extension) service on yesterday, billed as making the process less messy for expats and tourists who need more time in the country.

Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the national police chief, said the e-extension would improve visa services by allowing visitors to lodge their requests online.

The move is expected to reduce corruption in the system, covering the entire process including the payment of fees. It will reduce the time to process the application from one hour to three minutes, Damrongsak said.

According to the bureau, over 200,000 expats try to extend their visas each year for reasons including holidays, teaching jobs, study or family matters. The growing number of applicants has drawn concern about the time-consuming and inefficient nature of the process.

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The service will be piloted first for expats living or working in Bangkok, who can file their applications online at the official website. However, eventually, they must show up in person at the IB office on Chaeng Wattana Road, just like the old system.

Immigration bureau office, Chaeng Wattana Road
The welcoming facade of Bangkok’s premier immigration facility is a must-see attraction for any tourist.

And as before, having travelled for however long it takes through Bangkok’s appalling traffic, applicants will have to wait in line, as usual, for an unspecified time, to get their visa stamp. In Bangkok, this will still mean that the process will take all day unless you happen to live on Chaeng Wattana Road.

In the provinces, expats must still make expensive and pointless time-consuming journeys to industrial estates outside our provincial capital, often necessitating an overnight stay. The good news is that the whole process might be reduced by as much as half an hour, for which we should all be appropriately grateful.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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