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What will happen to foreigners with expired visas after July 31?

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PHOTO: PinoyThaiyo

Before you read further, seeking a definitive answer, we don’t have one.

But stranded foreigners, who have been able to stay in Thailand via a visa amnesty, have an approaching D-Day – July 31, 2020. This is the sunset of the current amnesty for foreigners who have, through no fault of their own, been stuck in Thailand whilst the borders have been closed. Whilst sitting out the Covid-19 outbreak in the pleasant Thai sunshine, the clock is ticking and the end of the amnesty is in sight.

Whilst there are now a few opportunities for foreigners to leave or return to Thailand, most are still unable either due to a lack of flights or closed borders in their home countries. At the time when the amnesty was announced, and the July 31 date set, it was hoped that the world would have opened back up. Whilst Thailand has largely got its Covid-19 house in order, much of the rest of the world is still battling through its first phase of the disease or coping with isolated spikes in new cases.

Thailand’s land borders with Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos also remain officially closed to all foreigners unless they have permanent residency or permission from the Thai government to re-enter.

Even early talk of possible travel bubbles with a bespoke handful of low-risk countries appears to be on hold for now as Thailand continues to repatriate citizens and allow its first foreigners in under special conditions. Certainly the process of re-opening Thailand’s borders is not going to allow all stranded foreigners to magically return home before July 31.

Now Thai immigration officials are battling with other government departments about how to deal with the tens of thousands of affected visitors who have been able to remain in Thailand until the end of July. It’s a complex situation where individuals will have varying situations for Immigration to sort out. Even a quick trip across a land border to re-new a visa is unlikely under the current situation.

The existing amnesty allowed foreigners to remain in Thailand without any new paperwork, payments or additional reporting.

So what will happen to foreigners whose visas are long expired, after July 31?

The prospect of madness at Thai Immigration offices on August 1 is surely something on Thai Immigration officials’ minds at the moment. Even the need to do 90 reporting has been put on hold until July 31, another possible headache for August 1.

An extension of the amnesty is likely but the current situation leaves tens of thousands of foreigners ‘untracked’, an anathema to Thai Immigration who have always made tracking of foreigners a hallmark of policy.

Short of actually expelling foreigners with expired visas, there will have to be some sort of system to either extend the current amnesty or find a way for foreigners to report their location, and possibly having to pay for another extension. Actually communicating any decision to affected foreigners will be a herculean task too.

With much of the visas processed by shuffling paper around busy offices, land checkpoints and airports, the actual tracking of the foreigners left in Thailand will be difficult.

Expect a decision in the next few weeks, and expect some sort of extension. But also expect that the gracious generosity of your hosts will not last forever. All foreigners with expired visas would be well advised to gather information about flights out of Thailand and to make contact with their country’s Embassies and Consulates in Thailand to register their current whereabouts and keep track of the situation.

The Thaiger would warmly suggest that foreigners become aware of their options as the end of the current amnesty draws closer.

For locals, required to do 90 day reporting, it would also be advisable to visit your local immigration office before July 31, or report online (if you’ve registered), to avoid a crush on August 1.

The Thaiger will continue to follow this important story and report any formal announcements from Thai Immigration.

 

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    James

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Thailand has been very kind and generous to tourists allowing us to stay. It was a big stress relief for me.

    Given my destination country is still closed and the airline bankrupt I would be very thankful if another extension would be granted. I would be very happy to pay a fee.

    Thailand could extend for another 90 days but require each tourist to schedule an appointment with immigration during the coming 90 days to present passport, report current address of stay and pay the fee.

    Given there had been no major issues with the tourists since April they might as well be happy to just collect a fee payable at 7eleven or similar and keep the receipt in your passport.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    I have a good idea. Let the foreigners leave?
    After all if they are infectious they will be taking the infection out of Thailand.
    Or do they want what few foreign tourists that are left trapped in Thailand spending money?

    • Avatar

      Michael Lewis

      Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      It seems that your level of intelligence does not currently exist on the IQ scale. All is not lost, maybe there are plans to add negative ratings to the scale.

  3. Avatar

    Kristof Erkiletian

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    I would personally like to extend great thanks to the Kingdom of Thailand for the amnesty and courtesy they have shown me as a foreigner during the ongoing global pandemic. I am a Canadian citizen and USA Resident, as well as a USA National Athlete who has competed all around the world including in Thailand. I honestly feel the way i’ve been treated by Thailand has been the highest quality that any guest could ever expect, especially as they face the task of protecting their own people during a world-wide pandemic. I would be honored if Thailand grants any extension of amnesty for foreigners here and would opt to pay a fee for this if necessary, although this is entirely their decision. I hope i can show the Kingdom the same level of honor that they have shown me. จงเข้มแข็งและเป็นอันหนึ่งอันเดียวกันประเทศไทย ขอบคุณมาก.

  4. Avatar

    Kristof

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    I would personally like to extend great thanks to the Kingdom of Thailand for the amnesty and courtesy they have shown me as a foreigner during the ongoing global pandemic. I honestly feel the way i’ve been treated by Thailand has been the highest quality that any guest could expect, especially as they face the task of protecting their own people during a world-wide pandemic. I would be honored if Thailand grants any extension of amnesty for foreigners here and would opt to pay a fee for this if necessary, although this is entirely their decision. I hope i can show the Kingdom the same level of honor that they have shown me. จงเข้มแข็งและเป็นอันหนึ่งอันเดียวกันประเทศไทย ขอบคุณมาก.

    • Avatar

      Ann

      Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 1:42 am

      Yes very kind of the kingdom but it’s unfortunate that the people retired their and own homes and employ Thai people can’t come back because we are not allowed.

  5. Avatar

    JamesUK

    Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Yes, they have been good to us.

    My flight has been re-booked for the end of August (by choice), it has been a nice long free extension, thank you Thailand!

  6. Avatar

    G. Cartaya

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 5:49 am

    I totally agree with many of the comments….I ‘m very gratefull to the King and PM of Thailand for all they have showned toward foreigners in the country..and hopefull for a further extension of the emergency visa to those here???.

  7. Avatar

    david mills

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Its not just tourists, many people like myself live here and need to cross to Laos for new visa. I do not see tracking anyone as an issue as everyone here would have completed a TM30.

  8. Avatar

    jim bob

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    It’s not an “amnesty”. Amnesty is a term for when an offender who has done something wrong is granted a reprieve from enforcement of the law they have broken. Visas have been extended to July 31st and therefore individuals under that program are legally in Thailand until July 31st and do not require “amnesty”. It seems to be due to a bit of internalized xenophobia that westerners are using the english term “amnesty” to refer to this program. We know the Thai government often behaves like they do not want westerners here, and this xenophobia is internalized by the acceptance of the term “amnesty”. Personally I do not violate any laws of Thailand and accordingly I am not in need of “Amnesty”. My visa was “Extended”. I am not availing myself of “amnesty”.

    • Avatar

      Kristof

      Friday, July 10, 2020 at 12:20 am

      You are correct with regard to my terminology; just using the word courtesy in place of amnesty best conveys my intended meaning.

  9. Avatar

    chao ken

    Friday, July 10, 2020 at 4:03 am

    jopefully the 90 day reporting policy for all staying expats can be relaxed exceptfor those changed to new residential address. Isn’t it now posible to trace expat whereabout with phone card registered with passport,with current technology?
    (as with tracing covid 19 with QR code)

  10. Avatar

    Thailand Welcomes Foreigners

    Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 3:42 am

    Thailand needs to think about big picture economics, as its economy contracts.
    Thailand needs countries to export to, and tourists to spend money inside Thailand.
    If Thailand starts needlessly upsetting foreigners and losing the goodwill it has earnt, Thailand will lose export opportunities, and Thailand will lose tourist customers and residents who create jobs for Thai people.

    Thailand urgently needs to modernise to make Thailand 4.0 a reality. It needs farang inside Thailand bringing money and skills in for Thai people to benefit from.

    The Thai government needs to think longer term and abolish all the needless bureaucracy that keeps farang and money out of Thailand. Thailand needs farang friends, if they start upsetting farang, they will take their money and skills elsewhere, and some other country will benefit. China will not save Thailand.

  11. Avatar

    N.Barrett

    Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 9:25 am

    What happens stranded overseas and retire visa expires ?

    I hear the Thai Embassy in London will not renew it-it lapses and you can,t get a retire visa again-will there be an amnesty ?

  12. Avatar

    Jourdana Parras

    Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    I used to live in the Middle East and tourist visas were issued with proof of a hotel booking. Could this be an option for visa extension? Say a foreigner shows proof of giving back to the country, specifically through tourism. Spend X amount and you’re clear for another 90 days. Could be a win-win for all parties.

  13. Avatar

    Amy Sukwan

    Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Don’t worry. Just like in America I’m sure the vast majority of people who go to a DMV or Immigration Office are actually there because they are bored and obviously can take care of their problem online if they only wanted to. Or maybe…

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