After spending the first half of the month vigilantly and vocally cracking down on immigration violations, Phuket Immigration announced the results of its efforts. They focused mainly on people overstaying the stamp on their passports and not being registered correctly at the place where they lived.
Immigration was working under the slogan of getting “Phuket to be Crime Free” running a campaign that they strangely titled “White Accommodation for Foreigners.” Speaking with the Phuket Express, the Phuket Immigration Chief reported the statistics and explained the goal of the crackdown.
“For the first half of this month (December 1 to December 15) in total six foreigners were arrested for overstaying and 117 foreigners were fined for not properly registering their accommodation. Eight accommodation/hotel owners were fined for not reporting foreigners living at their premises. We are aiming to control foreigners who are staying and living in Phuket to make sure that they are being registered properly to Immigration for their accommodation and not on overstay.”
Phuket Immigration also nabbed 11 people in Mueang Phuket, two in Patong, and two in Chalong for misusing their visas. These people may have been legally allowed to stay in Thailand at the time, but were on specific types of visas and not following the terms or purposes of that visa. For example, someone staying long-term in Thailand on a volunteer visa had been found not doing any volunteer work. It is becoming increasingly common for people to get long stays on education visas while not attending any school or classes as well.
Among the immigration busts that got media attention: a Filipino man had stayed in Kathu 252 days after his passport stamp date had passed. A South African man had moved from Chiang Rai to Phang Nga and then to Phuket in an attempt to evade immigration while he said he was too poor to travel back home after 196 days of overstay. And a 63 year old American man was allegedly so worried about being grabbed by immigration that he hid out in his room for eight days overstay, subsisting on protein capsules.
As a reminder, if you have overstayed your visa, rectifying it by turning yourself into immigration carries much more lenient penalties than if immigration officers catch you themselves.
The penalties for overstaying foreigners who surrender themselves to immigration officers:
- Overstaying less than 90 days will result in a fine of 500 baht/day (maximum 20,000 baht).
- Overstaying more than 90 days will result in a one-year ban from entering the country and a fine of 20,000 baht.
- Overstaying for more than one year will result in a three-year ban from entering the country and a fine of 20,000 baht.
- Overstaying more than three years will result in a five-year ban from entering the country and a fine of 20,000 baht.
- Overstaying more than five years will result in a 10-year ban from entering the country and a fine of 20,000 baht.
If an overstaying foreigner is caught by immigration officers:
- Overstaying from one day to one year will result in a five-year ban from entering the country and a fine from 500 to 20,000 baht.
- Overstaying more than one year will result in a ten-year ban from entering the country and a fine of 20,000 baht.
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