PHUKET: New rules limiting stays in Thailand on “visas on arrival” to 90 days over any six month period were confirmed at a September 15 meeting of Immigration Department Chiefs in Bangkok. The new policy will go into effect on October 1.
In a related development, the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia, has stopped issuing double-entry tourist visas.
Pol Lt Col Pipat Pongpan, an Inspector at Phuket Immigration Office, told the Gazette, “Anyone who has already stayed 90 days on visa-on-arrival permits does not need to worry. We will start counting the days from October 1.
“[Foreigners from countries qualifying for visas on arrival] can come in and out of the country as many times as they like with a visa on arrival, but can stay for a maximum of 90 days in any six month period. If they stay 90 days then they must leave for 90 days before they are entitled to another visa on arrival. They can, however, go and request a tourist visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad and come back into the country,” he said.
“Extensions above the 90-day limit may be granted in exceptional cases, such as if the tourist is suffering from an illness or involved in a lawsuit,” he added.
“No new investment visas will be issued after October 1. However, existing visas in this category may be extended if the holder still has funds of 3 million baht and is still doing business in Thailand,” Col Pipat said.
Tourist visas are still available, for a fee, at Thai embassies and consulates in neighboring countries. The Royal Thai Consulate in Penang, however, will now issue only single-entry 60-day tourist visas. An official at the consulate said that an order had been sent down from Consul Pramote Pramoonsab to cease issuance of double-entry tourist visas, which allow a total stay of up to 120 days.
Double-entry tourist visas are at present still available in the Thai Consulate in Kota Bharu and Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, however.
A source in the Visa and Travel Document Division, Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), said that the move by the consulate in Penang is not due to any sweeping changes in MFA policy.
The decision whether or not to issue double-entry tourist visas rests solely at the discretion of each diplomatic mission, the source explained.
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