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New visa amnesty allows foreigners to stay in Thailand until October 31, with 60 day extensions

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The visa amnesty, twice extended, expired on September 26. Then another amnesty was launched yesterday which allows foreigners, without visas or with lapsed visas, until October 31 to sort out their visa situation. The grace period acknowledges the problems many foreigners are having organising flights back to their home countries at a time much of the world has an acceleration of cases. Extensions will now be 60 days each.

Dr. Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesperson for the CCSA, read a message from the Thai PM.

“As Covid-19 is still causing harm and there are many infections around the world, more than 30 million cases, some foreigners have to stay in Thailand, and cannot travel out of the Kingdom of Thailand to go back to their home countries, and they cannot follow Section 35 and Section 37 (5) of the Immigration Act 2522 and other related laws.”

Up to the end of last week, Thai Immigration officials predicted there were some 150,000 foreigners still in Thailand without a valid visa.

In July, following weeks in April and May when much of Thailand was in a lockdown, immigration officials granted automatic visa extensions to September 26. In the lead up to last Saturday’s sunset of the visa amnesty, many foreigners jumped through the Immigration department’s hoops to either get a new visa, or a 30 day extension to their old visa. The last minute rush caused confusion, queues and pleas for another extension.

Now, a new immigration regulation will allow foreigners to apply for 60 day extensions to stay in Thailand if they are “unable to leave due to limited flights or other issues”. The extensions, prior to this announcement, required a letter from applicants’ embassy and a payment of 1,900 baht. The extension was only applicable for 30 days. The new extensions will last for 60 days.

Front line immigration officials, expats and visitors alike will feel aggrieved this morning after the announcement. Officers had to face long lines of angry and confused foreigners last week at their offices around the country. Now the countdown starts again as it ticks down to the October 31 date for foreigners to get their visa affairs in order.

Not so much a ‘last minute decision’ as an ‘after-deadline decision’, the turnaround from Thai Immigration will only encourage foreigners to wait until the last moment when the next deadline looms. Last week there were threats from Immigration officials across the country that there wouldn’t be another extension and that foreigners overstaying their visas would be fined, jailed and deported. So whilst the new amnesty is clearly a welcome development for foreigners trying to stay in Thailand, it does little to foster further trust in announcements coming out of the country’s immigration offices.

 

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Svcoquette

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Immigration thank you for this and thanks to all the Phuket immigration officials for doing their job in a cool and collected matter these past weeks.
    We are supposed to back 5 Oct to see if our “Conditional” extension has been approved. Is this still necesssary?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 10:10 am

      It would probably be a good move – along with a bunch of flowers for the much-maligned and under-appreciated immigration staff, many of whom have gone the extra mile to do what they can to help.

      (and I do mean “a bunch of flowers”, literally, not a bottle of whisky or some tea-money)

      • Avatar

        Svcoquette

        Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 11:08 am

        Somehow I don’t think that tall guy in the yellow shirt first greeting the applicants and checking their paperwork would appreciate flowers. He probably had the toughest job but he kept his cool and was patient and professional with everyone.

      • Avatar

        broken but healthy falang

        Wednesday, September 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm

        i got reply from Kanchanaburi immigration officer to my plea for help, i was begging them to not take my money now as i don’t have money left for food – she told me “it’s useless to come here and ask for help”. i gave them my last money on Monday – now they have extended amnesty, RIGHT AFTER they got all the money from farangs who stuck here, lost their jobs and all the savings in last six months. so yeah! i definitely will buy some flowers for them, a bit later…

        • Avatar

          Cyrus

          Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 4:35 pm

          Borrow money from your family and GO HOME.

          • Avatar

            Tas

            Monday, October 26, 2020 at 12:04 pm

            What a stupid thing to say. Maybe that is a possible avenue for you but you have no right to dictate strategy to anybody without knowing their circumstances. Go home yourself and stop making uninformed judgements about how others should deal with their difficulties.

  2. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Why, oh why could this not have been done one or two months ago?

    Thai Immigration staff have been working way beyond what’s required or expected, putting in extra thankless hours to try to help, doing far more than their opposite numbers in the West would have done, but their hands have been tied.

    150,000 “tourists” have been unable to leave but told they’ll be blacklisted or jailed if they don’t; meanwhile they’ve been spending far more between them here than all those likely to come on Special Tourist Visas are ever going to.

    Even some embassies have attempted to help, for a change.

    … and visa agents have been raking it in as never before.

    … and all because one or two petty jobsworths couldn’t think ahead.

  3. Avatar

    gosport

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Everyone complains about the immigration regulations, no one complains why they dont want to leave?

    • Avatar

      Frank Leboeuf

      Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 11:51 am

      Probably because the time spent dealing with Thai regulations and immigration is shorter than the time spent doing other things in the country, meaning the balance is still in favour of staying, especially in current worldwide circumstances?

  4. Avatar

    murika

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 11:11 am

    good news for all the people on koh pha ngan who were too high to even bother about all those stupid paperwork, meanwhile so many who wanted to respect the law and take care of their visa in time, end up paying an agent for nothing, i know someone who paid 16k to get 3 month in July (because we have been told before that July 31 would be the end of amnesty), another one has been asked 25k by immigration officer, because their were not enough time to do renew her nonB visa before the 26 of September, because to many people was asking at that time, actually their was plenty of time (this happened to all the farang teacher from one school who were all in the same situation, 5 persons, so immigration officer put 125k in her poket that day and the problem was comming from the thai school who didn’t take care of the visa on time), another one who has been working legally in Thailand for 10 years with all the paperwork done, end up paying 50k to switch to an education visa, because his visa couldn’t be renew because the border are closed, that person now is at risk to get controlled while working and put to jail because he don’t have the right to work under that visa, like payut said, good farang in, bad farang out, it’s quite the opposite actually…

  5. Avatar

    Kevin

    Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Hi all,

    My visa Non- O expired on March 26, 20. I got 2 month (60 days) extension til Nov 26,20. Will I able to extend another 2 months or will they will give another amnesty extention soon?

    Thank you

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Foreigners can register for vaccination next month (next week for some on Phuket)

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Pixnio

But when they will actually be vaccinated remains up in the air. While a Public Health Ministry spokesperson declared just days ago that Covid-19 vaccines were reserved for Thais, not expats, the government now says that statement was taken out of context.

Yesterday, Opas Kankawinpong from the Disease Control Department confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand would also be vaccinated.

“Anyone living in Thailand, be they Thai or foreign, will be able to get the vaccine if they want it. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Opas went on to say that the goal of herd immunity means vaccinating at least 70% of those living here – both Thai and foreign. He says there is an estimated 3 million foreign nationals living in the Kingdom long-term, pointing out that a significant proportion of the migrant worker population in Samut Sakhon has now been vaccinated. The central province was the epicentre of a second wave of infections in December, centred around its fish markets and factories.

According to the Bangkok Post, Opas then went on to say foreigners who want to be vaccinated can contact their embassy. However, judging by the comments on social media, no foreigner who has tried this has had any success. Both the British and Australian embassies have told their citizens that they are covered under Thailand’s vaccination rollout – and that’s that.

Opas says priority for foreigners will be accorded in the same way as it is for Thais. The eldery and at-risk, as well as those living in high-risk areas and people with underlying conditions, will be first in line. Inoculation is expected to be carried out using the locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine.

Meanwhile, Pensom Lertsithichai from the Foreign Ministry says that from next month, foreigners should be able to register to be vaccinated.

“The ministry is trying their best to help foreigners, so they can either use the mobile app or contact hospitals directly and register to be vaccinated.”

Phuket is a step ahead, with the Phuket News confirming that foreigners working on the southern island can register to be vaccinated from next Tuesday. However, they must be in possession of a valid work permit and have their employer register them on the “Phuket Must Win” website.

Phuket expats without a work permit will be included in the following phase. The island is in a race to vaccinate 70% of its population in order to re-open to vaccinated international tourists from July.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand plans to include 3 million foreigners in mass vaccination program

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Photo via Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

The Thai government says it is planning on including 3 million foreigners in its mass Covid-19 vaccination program in an effort to protect the entire population. Opas Kankawinpong, the head of the disease control department, has confirmed the news, saying that anyone can get the vaccine if they want it.

“Anybody living in Thailand, whether they be Thai or foreign, if they want they vaccine, they can get it. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

But the announcement is also peppered with caveats, including that foreigners will have to wait their turn. (The Thaiger will publish all the latest information from the government about foreigners registering for vaccines)

Expats have been voicing their concerns in the past few weeks about, what they say, is a lack of public information, confusion over private vaccines, and problems registering on apps. The mass immunisation program hasn’t started yet, but the government is sticking to its previous announcement that major tourism areas will open in July to vaccinated travellers.

The plan was contingent upon 70% of local residents being vaccinated in order to achieve a herd immunity to the virus. But 50 million Thais and 3 million foreign residents would need to be inoculated over the next few months.

Anxiety over the massive amount of people who have yet to receive even their first dose is growing, as the country deals with its largest outbreak of Covid since the pandemic began. Reports of only frontline workers as having received the vaccines from the stock of 2.5 million Sinovac vaccines, have left critics saying that the government’s slow vaccine rollout is not helping the latest wave.

Meanwhile, another 1 million Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine doses from China arrived in Thailand while another batch of 500,000 doses will arrive next week. The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation formally accepted the delivery at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport this morning.

More than 2/3 of deaths in Thailand from the virus have been recorded just in the past month alone. But new, daily infections have been hovering around the 2,000 mark since the middle of April. The Public Health Ministry says it is working on other ways to communicate with foreigners about getting the jabs.

Friday Thailand reported 2,044 new Covid-19 infections and 27 deaths.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines in Thailand right now

Tim Newton

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Which Covid vaccines are available in Thailand?

Thailand’s FDA has licensed 3 Covid-19 vaccines – AztraZeneca/Oxford University, Sinovac from China and Johnson Johnson. Only the AztraZenaca and Sinovac vaccines are currently delivered and available in Thailand at this time. Others will likely be approved for use in Thailand in the next few months, including the Pfizer/Moderna mRNA vaccine (paperwork submitted) and Sputnik V from Russia.

Who imports the vaccines?

The Thai Government imports all vaccines and organises the distribution throughout the country. At this stage they have prevented private institutions or private hospitals from independently importing Covid vaccines. That situation could change as the government have publicised mixed messages about the issue in the past.

Who is receiving the vaccine now?

Whilst there has been delivery and distribution of vaccines up to date, there are more on the way with the intention of vaccinating around 70% of the Thai population by the end of the year. Only in Phuket has there been any major vaccination where a reported 22% of the island’s population has received at least one dose. The second most vaccinated province is Samut Sakhon, the hotzone for the late December 2020 outbreak. The rest of the country is still sitting at around 1% or less.

Are the vaccines safe?

Based on the evidence available, and the nearly 1.2 billion people now vaccinated, yes. Despite some noise on the internet, the vast majority of people receiving the approved vaccines for Covid 19 are not displaying any concerning side effects following vaccination. Like all vaccines, there will be a small number of people with adverse reactions but the numbers are statistically negligible compared to the risks of not having a vaccine at all.

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic there had been a lot of work done to research vaccines for coronaviruses. The onset of a worldwide pandemic certainly hastened a lot of the research and hardworking that had already been done. So the normal lead time for a completely new vaccine was drastically shortened.

As of today (May 6), 1.16 billion people in the world have now been vaccinated – well on the way to a major milestone in the fight against Covid-19.

Be careful when consuming information on the internet and check the source of the information. If you have never heard of the source of the information before, Google them and check their credentials. There is, sadly, a lot of nonsense being published across the internet. Caveat emptor.

Who is being targeted for vaccination?

Healthcare professionals and people in the healthcare sector, populations in outbreak areas, elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions. The vast majority of people are Thai with only a small group of expats vaccinated – mostly working in the education sector.

The news for foreigners receiving a vaccination keeps changing. As it stands the foreign population are at the bottom of the list with no definitive policy on how or when Thailand’s foreign population will be vaccinated.

What does the vaccination cost?

The vaccine is free to Thais, fully paid for by the Thai government through its public health system. There are no privately available vaccines at the moment, for payment or otherwise.

When will expats be able to expect the vaccine?

We simply don’t know at the moment. The situation is very dynamic with foreign embassies being challenged to help their citizens. At this stage they are refusing to provide any assistance, across the board, regarding helping with vaccination of their citizens.

The Thaiger will report the latest information about this issue, accurately and in a timely manner.

Can I still go to hospital or clinics for other medical situations?

Absolutely. And you should still keep any regular appointment you may have had before this current outbreak. But it’s also a good time to think ahead and stock up on any vital medications and keep the phone number of your physician at hand. Take appropriate precaution if you need to visit a Thai hospital at this time and understand that there may be longer waiting times than usual.

If you have private health insurance you should be using the services of a private hospital at this time rather than overloading Thailand’s public health system.

Can I travel to Thailand at this time?

Yes. There are visas available and the borders are technically “open”. But there are still hoops to jump through and paperwork to prepare. DON’T make any booking for flights or ASQ hotels, or anything else for that matter, until you have spoken to the Thai embassy in your home country, even if you intend to travel from another part of the world.

 

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