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Posts Tagged ‘lockdown’

22nd November 2021

As Thailand’s recent reopening continues unabated the Thailand Pass appears to pose issues for some wishing to travel to Thailand. The following was quoted from the official website of the Bangkok Post:

Some hotels are deceiving visitors from overseas, taking room reservations but omitting transport from the airport and Covid-testing, which means they must buy a new package on arrival or be rejected. Apisamai Srirangson, a spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Monday that some hotels misled visitors and booked them only for the room. The charge did not include a limousine service from the airport to the hotel or the RT-PCR Covid-19 test on arrival, even though both were required as conditions of entry on a Thailand Pass…Thailand Pass replaced the certificate of entry (CoE) on Nov 1 when the kingdom reopened to visitors. It requires visitors to have been fully vaccinated, have a clean RT-PCR test within 72 hours before boarding their flight and have US$50,000 health insurance.

Clearly, not all of the “bugs” have been worked out of the system as some of these issues may have been due to the vast number of technical issues associated with the increased logistics associated with traveling to Thailand under current conditions.

Meanwhile, there are rumors circulating that Thailand may soon see a reopening of the nightlife venues as the country moves forward. Prior announcements have stated that Thailand’s nightlife sector (bars, pubs, and entertainment zones) will not reopen until mid-January at the earliest, but there is now talk among some government officials that things may reopen sooner than that. However, an official announcement remains to be seen.

Recent policy changes with respect to retirement visas (and indirectly, reentry permits) may be the cause of consternation among the expat retiree community. Insurance requirements for all Thai visas except business visa holders has been a major topic of discussion recently. Meanwhile, it appears on more than one Thai consulate website that the minimum financial requirements for Thai retirement visas is increasing. For example, on the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles‘s website it now appears that 1.2 million baht will be the requirement in a bank account to obtain a Thai O-A retirement visa. In the past, the requirement has long been 800,000 THB. Concurrently, the same website is stating 100,000 THB in pension income would also prove sufficient, where once 65,000 THB was considered adequate. After further review, the Thai Consulate in Sydney‘s website showed similar information. What precisely this means for those looking to undertake the Thai retirement visa process remains to be seen.

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1st September 2021

The lockdowns in Bangkok and other highly populated areas of Thailand appear to be abating as it has recently been decreed that certain retail businesses may reopen while restaurants and other eateries may again serve dine-in customers from today onward. There seems to be an implication that further easing will be forthcoming, but we have seen that attitude before only to see things suddenly reverse. Hopefully, the business community in Bangkok and Greater Thailand has finally come through the worst of these rather stringent measures and things can move on.

Meanwhile, various destinations in Thailand are attempting to “Move On“. Notably, Phuket has implemented initiatives in the “Phuket Sandbox” program to allow travelers in that location to travel to other destinations after an initial 7 days on the island in the “7+7” program. Although this is definitely good news tourism numbers remain far below normal and therefore it remains to be seen how many people will actually avail themselves of this opportunity. The sandbox initiative has not garnered the tourism interest that many had hoped, but with high season coming this could change. It is worth noting that a number of non-immigrant Thai visa holders have availed themselves of the sandbox scheme as it is viewed as less cumbersome compared to dealing with 14 days of quarantine when traveling to other parts of Thailand.

It is notable that Thailand is one of the only jurisdictions in Southeast Asia which is permitting tourists to enter the country. Not to mention non-immigrant visa holders (most of whom were completely barred from reentry last summer). That stated, issues still arise for foreign nationals in Thailand as there are those who have problems either maintaining their status due to unforeseen work issues or no longer meet the requirements of their lawful status. Under such circumstances it is optimal to avoid falling into overstay and attempt to obtain a Thai visa conversion in order to remain in the Kingdom.

American immigration is not moving as quickly as was the case prior to 2020. That stated, things are moving more quickly compared to the situation in 2020. Although appointments for non-immigrant visas to the USA such as tourist visas are difficult to come by and even obtaining an appointment for a K-1 visa interview can be difficult. There are those who hope that a change in administration in the USA will result in concrete changes to the American immigration apparatus, but any improvements remain to be seen.

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23rd April 2021

As the government’s response to the COVID situation persists, there are a number of tangential effects reverberating in an Immigration context. For example, the oft discussed “sandbox” initiative in Thailand to allow particularly Phuket to reopen in July may be under threat. To quote a recent article from The Phuket News:

The question of re-opening Thailand to Tourism, starting with Phuket, has obviously taken a knock backwards. The Tourism and Sports Minster said, “The key determinant is insufficient vaccines, we are concerned about the re-opening timeline. We still need to discuss the vaccine administration plan. If the herd immunity goal cannot be achieved, we may have to consider opening only certain areas in Phuket,” he said.

Although July, the proposed month to begin the sandbox program, is some time off and the future is difficult to predict it seems increasingly unlikely that the program will be implemented in that time frame. That stated, a recent excerpt from the Bangkok Post could be viewed as more optimistic:

However, authorities will continue with their plan to bring in vaccinated international visitors via a pilot project called Phuket Sandbox in July. The Tourism and Sports Ministry will help distribute Covid-19 vaccines to cover 70% of Phuket’s residents to prepare for international tourists.

Meanwhile, the truncated quarantine policies, allowing for 7 days of quarantine and 10 days of quarantine for foreign vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, respectively appears unchanged. This appears to be the case so long as said foreign nationals are not originating from “high risk” countries. In that case, the 14 day quarantine remains the standard. These protocols also include those traveling to Thailand on Thai retirement visas as well as visas for marriage and business purposes.

The economy in Thailand has been taking a hit due to the recently announced “lockdown” measures (although officials are at pains to point out that an actual “lockdown” is not in effect). All bars and entertainment establishments have been ordered closed and restaurants cannot serve alcohol for some weeks. How exactly this situation plays out remains to be seen, but Thai business leaders have voiced their concerns about the devastating economic impact of these policies.

In the realm of American immigration, the situation has had something of an impact upon those seeking visas to the USA, but cases continue to process out of the National Visa Center and the Embassy continues to conduct interviews. Whether this trend continues remains to be seen, but we will provide updates on the situation as it continues to evolve.

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