NOTE: This post is not designed to scare anyone, but simply prompt foreigners, currently in Thailand, about the situation with visas. There is a list of all embassies in Thailand at the end of this article.
The Thai government has had a visa amnesty in force that has allowed foreigners to stay in Thailand during the Covid-19 outbreak. It automatically extended all visas until July 31. But that date is approaching fast, and whilst there has been conjecture about an extension to the visa amnesty beyond July 31, NOTHING has been confirmed (despite rumours).
To be clear, the Thai government are not just going to suddenly throw people out of the country. The date for the finish of the visa amnesty has been widely publicised since the announcement of the amnesty. It is the responsibility of each foreigner to be aware of their visa situation, especially if their visa has expired during the amnesty. The Cabinet announced an extension of the visa amnesty for an additional 3 months on April 21 this year.
Whilst there is a lot of confusion, and everyone is waiting for clarification from Thai Immigration, your best step forward is to get as much information you can and be prepared.
So, if you are a foreigner and your visa to stay in Thailand has expired, or will expire, before the July 31 date, you will, as it stands at the moment, be required to get a formal extension or leave the Kingdom. Or renew your current visa if it is ongoing.
We are not in a normal situation where everything operates fluidly and as you have expected in the past. Embassies and consulates are under considerable pressure to help sort out the situations for many thousands of foreigners. Some embassies will be more helpful than others. Don’t expect your country’s embassy to drop everything they’re doing and attend to your situation.
Here are your options which you should be actively considering to avoid deportation, a fine or other possible charges…
• Contact your embassy or consulate (better to email at this time rather than appear in person). Tell them where you are and your current visa situation, and provide contact details.
• If you wish to extend your visa beyond July 31 there will probably be a cost associated and you will need supporting documentation to extend. The Thai Immigration department has already made it clear that you will probably need a letter from your embassy explaining why you need to extend your visa. This will need to be arranged before you apply for an extension with Thai Immigration. If your visa simply needs to be renewed it should be a much easier procedure.
• Check out possible outbound flights to your home country, including connecting flights from the airlines that are currently leaving Bangkok. BE VERY CAREFUL booking any flights immediately as there have been many, many cases of airlines scheduling flights out of Thailand that end up cancelled and leaving prospective passengers out of pocket and an extended wait for a refund. We would recommend contacting the actual airlines to make bookings rather booking through aggregation sites. Your air fares back home could be quite expensive.
• If the Thai government doesn’t extend the July 31 deadline there will likely be queues and delays in the last few days before the visa amnesty finishes. So the earlier you can gets your personal visa situation clarified, opportunities explored and an exit strategy in place, the better.
• If you are required to do 90 day reporting, and you haven’t reported during the amnesty, you should do so – online or in person – before July 31.
HERE is the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Allan McKinnon, whose advice is largely applicable to citizens from any country.
Bottomline, get as much information possible about your opportunities to leave the country or make arrangements to extend your visa NOW. Don’t wait until July 31.
EMBASSIES IN THAILAND
Here is an up to date LIST of all the Embassies and Missions currently operating in Thailand (scroll down to Page 7 for the alphabetical country listings and contacts).
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