Integrity Legal

Archive for July, 2014

21st July 2014

In recent weeks, sweeping new changes have been announced regarding Thai visa exemptions and so-called visa runs. As has been previously noted on this blog, as of August 12, 2014 those using the in/out method to obtain 30 day visa exemption status will no longer be permitted to do so. However, in the weeks leading up to this clampdown anecdotal evidence has been noted which shows that those currently seeking to enter the country this way have been denied entry. Meanwhile, further information has come to light which shows that some have been stopped at the Thai border attempting to enter on Thai 60 day tourist visas, many such individuals have apparently been turned away.

It further came to light that Thai immigration authorities will be imposing a blacklisting scheme to bar those who have overstayed in the country from reentering for certain designated periods of time. What this system will ultimately look like remains to be seen as it was recently rumored that officials are re-looking at the plan in an effort to ensure that consequences are not excessively harsh. However, it would appear that long term overstayers and visa runners could see themselves turned away at the border in the future and possibly banned from returning for an extended period depending upon their situation.

A bright note was reported this week, as officials have apparently announced that visa exemption extensions may be granted in the future for 30 days as opposed to a mere 7.  Apparently, immigration officials are looking into allowing 30 day extensions for those in Thailand on a 30 day exemption stamp. Obviously, the decision to grant a 30 day extension will be made on a case by case basis and at this time it seems that the proposed plan would require the foreign tourist to pay 1900 baht when seeking a visa extension.

All of these developments mean that in the future those wishing to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand for a prolonged period of time are well advised to obtain a long term Thai visa in a category in which they qualify. For example, those coming to Thailand to work or start a company are well advised to seek a Thai business visa as well as a Thai work permit. Meanwhile, those wishing to study in Thailand may do so, so long as they obtain a Thai education visa from a school duly accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education. Retirees may remain in the Kingdom on a Thai retirement visa so long as they have the requisite funds or pension. Concurrently, those with family in Thailand could apply for a Thai O visa so long as they meet the necessary financial requirements.

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2nd July 2014

Followers of this blog will likely have noticed the recent news that Thai visa runs are being curtailed in an effort to stop those who abuse the 30 day visa exemption stamp system in the Kingdom of Thailand. The following is quoted directly from a recent announcement made by the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Savannakhet:

Announcement Concerning the Strict Implemmentation of the Visa Exemption Scheme

From 12th August 2014, Thai Immigration Bureau will strictly implement the border crossing law and regulations to prevent visa runners from abusing the visa exemption scheme by prohibiting entry into the country.

The purpose of this scheme is for tourism only. The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Savannakhet advises those wishing to enter Thailand for other purposes to apply for appropriate visa in all circumstances.

In accordance with Immigration Act B.E. 2522 and other relevant law and regulations, employment is prohibited when entering Thailand without appropriate visa and violation is punishable by up to 5-year imprisonment or up to 100,000-baht fine or both.

Royal Thai Consulate-General Savannakhet

June 27, 2014

Clearly, beginning in mid-August immigration officers will be scrutinizing travelers entering Thailand on 30 day visa exemptions. Those deemed to be utilizing the exemption scheme inappropriately could find themselves barred from entering the Kingdom. Meanwhile, this annoucment seems to also imply that those using the scheme to work illegally in the Kingdom could find themselves facing incarceration or serious fines. Anyone thinking of traveling to Thailand long term are strongly encouraged to seek an appropriate visa. Those thinking of working in Thailand should also be prepared to undertake the process of obtaining a Thai work permit.

At present there are multiple visa options for long term tourists and others wishing to remain in the Kingdom long term. The Thai business visa can be utilized by those wishing to conduct business in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, those with spouses or family in Thailand could obtain a Thai O visa (sometimes referred to as a Thai marriage visa) in order to remain lawfully present in the Kingdom. Those wishing to undertake an educational course in Thailand may be eligible for a Thai ED visa. Those over 50 years of  age who wish to retire in Thailand may be eligible for a Thai retirement visa.

Long term tourists who wish to remain in Thailand longer than 30 days are strongly encouraged to obtain a Thai tourist visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad in order to forestall possible problems that may arise as a result of the new stricter enforcement of the Thai visa exemption system.

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