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The end of the visa amnesty – get your house in order



Up to 500,000 foreigners are now thought to have been part of the Thai government’s visa amnesty which was introduced in April for foreigners, both on tourist and other visas, who were stuck in Thailand and unable to leave. Around the world, planes had been grounded and Thailand closed its borders at the time. Six months later, and following 2 extensions, the visa amnesty is set to finish on September 26.

In the past, if your visa lapsed during the amnesty, it was automatically rolled over. But as restrictions on travel slowly ease Thai Immigration have said it’s unlikely the amnesty would be extended again.

They’ve said that those without valid visas must leave Thailand or submit an application for extension, which would be considered on a “case by case basis”. It’s now estimated that there are less than 100,000 foreigners remaining in the Kingdom who are here on elapsed visas.

The Immigration department has signalled 2 groups that would be allowed to get their visas extended. In both cases the 30 day extension would cost 1,900 baht for the visa processing fee. The exemptions have been approved by the Thai cabinet.

• foreigners who are too sick to travel and not fit-to-fly (requiring a medical certificate), or…

• foreigners who are unable to travel for other reasons, problems with flights, etc (requiring a letter of explanation and request for extension from their embassy or consulate).

The American, British and Australian embassies have all said they will provide the letters on request. In all cases the embassies earlier refused to provide the letters of request but have since relented, acknowledging the problems of travelling back to their countries at this time, even though there are some flights available for emergency travel.

Another option for post September 26 visas could be a new 90 days non-immigrant visa. You would need to discuss this with your local immigration office, or consult a qualified and professional visa agent to arrange for you. Getting a visa through an agent will probably cost you between 25,000 – 75,000 baht.

There are plenty of ads being posted at this time offering magic extensions to visas and opportunities to stay in Thailand after September 26. Please be aware that some of these alleged visa agents are scams. There are also plenty of very good visa agents who will be able to provide you with advice and solutions, at a cost, allowing you to remain in the country.

There will be some foreigners, fearful of the looming September 26 deadline for visas, who fall between the cracks and are either unable to find the cash to organise a new visa or afford to fly home, often at highly inflated airfares. At some stage you will need to address the situation and speak to an immigration official to sort out your options – the sooner the better. Alternatively make contact with your Embassy or Consulate, ensure they at least know how to contact you, and find out about possible repatriation flights.

If, under your current visa, you are required to 90 day reports to immigration, you are now required to bring this up to date (before or on August 31). If you haven’t done your 90 reporting by now you could be subject to a fine of 2,000 baht or more.


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  1. karl

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9:18 am

    Since many have to leave, it is finally easier to find a hotel room in Thailand. It is of course also nice that e.g. Phuket is not so full of tourists anymore.

    Please continue.

  2. Preesy Chepuce

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Way too much bureaucracy. Is it worth having to deal with a 100,000 farang for a measly 1900 baht? Why not just make a blanket indefinite extension for everyone?! it’s a lot easier to manage, and more sensible for disease control.

  3. kuhnarthur

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 9:58 am

    I wonder how they can bring 500.000 tourists until Sept 26 from to overseas. That means from now on about 25.000 people per day have to have a flight.

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      Monday, September 7, 2020 at 10:40 am

      The 500,000 is the estimated number of tourists and foreigners left in Thailand as a result of the border closures. They’re already here.

  4. Ian

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Let me get this right: Thailand wants to get rid of a few hundred thousand long-staying tourists who are here already and at the same time come up with plans to attract the very same people to come to Thailand? Thai logic at its best!

  5. Toby Andrews

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Not very clever.
    They are forcing a 100,000 foreigners out, some who support Thais families, who spend far more than ordinary Thais, who are virus free, and Thailand is going broke!

    • barry

      Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      yep absolutely – I’m repeating myself, but why no simply introduce an exceptional extension measure, specifically for foreigners in Thailand who want to stay stay in the country and have the means to support their stay here.

      No more amnesty, something practicel.

      Call it Thailand’s “COVID-19 Emergency Stay Permit”.

      – Make foreigners register online to apply, then come to their local immigration office to pay and process.

      – To processe, foreigners needs 2 photos, proof of sufficient funds to finance stay in Thailand, housing info and of course the fees, along with a statement of understanding that the stay permit will be revoked when borders reopen

      – Emergency permit is renewable every month or every 90 days (and subject to 90 day reports) until Thailand’s borders are fully reopened

      – The permit if offered to *all foreigners* on amnesty, not just tourists, regardless of current / expired visa (tourist, VOA, non immigrant type B, O-A….), as long as they can justify funds to stay in Thailand.

      Problems solved: no more amnesty, no more talk of “stranded/freeloader”, Thai government makes money, fully controls the situation and can communicate positively on the subject, locals make money, foreigners are happy, those caught in the gaps (expired non-Bs) have a solution…

      Aaah, if only Thai officials came to the Thaiger’s comment section for advice 😉

      • Andrzej

        Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 10:12 pm

        Exactly Barry. Agree with you 100%.

  6. Bobby

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Why just not open the border with Laos so people can do their visa duties over there ? They’ve had less than 30 people infected and not a single death…
    It just doesn’t make sense to get rid of the last foreigners remaining here that are spending their money here and supporting the thai economy and families

    • barry

      Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      Problem with this idea is that it’s a two-way street, and mean Laos would need to agree to let people in from Thailand, I think they’re quite strict about that, quarantine rules etc…

      I’m convinced the “Emergency Stay Permit” I mentioned above is the solution, but alas….

      • Bobby

        Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 5:13 pm

        I agree with you it’s not that simple, but both Thailand and Laos are part of the ASEAN so I thought they could work on this together. But it’s just a solution among many other just as the one you mentioned above (which would be perfect I have to say). Let’s just hope the government will implement a real solution rather than kicking everybody out…

  7. James

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    I wish they would kick out the arrogant farangs who walk about in public not wearing a mask. They make us all look bad.

    They think they are above the law.

  8. Alex

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    This whole Covid-19 BS doesn’t make sense! Just cut the crap already!

  9. Preesy Chepuce

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    None of this visa bureaucracy helps Thailand. The richest 20 democratic advanced countries in world should be visa free with automatic 1 year visas, and spouses of Thai allowed to work and make businesses and create jobs for Thai people and exports to those rich countries. Thailand would benefit by making the most of its popularity with the richest most advanced countries.

  10. Andrew

    Sunday, September 6, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    September 26, you have to leave. Not really. It’s all about money. “Getting a visa through an agent will probably cost you between 25,000 – 75,000 baht.”
    Why I can’t do it myself going to Immigration, but travel agent can for $$$. Ahh, Asian problem… how do they call it?!

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