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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Embassy’

14th February 2021

Since the last posting on this blog there have been a number of developments and discussions with respect to both Thai and American immigration issues. One development which has received substantial media coverage has been the Executive Orders signed by President Biden with regard to Immigration policy. Of particular note to the administration of this web log was the order titled: Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. The content of this Executive Order seems designed to impose a new policy paradigm upon the Immigration bureaucracy (or perhaps reimpose of a previously existing paradigm). This effort to change the prevailing paradigm is evidenced in the opening lines of the order itself:

Consistent with our character as a Nation of opportunity and of welcome, it is essential to ensure that our laws and policies encourage full participation by immigrants, including refugees, in our civic life; that immigration processes and other benefits are delivered effectively and efficiently; and that the Federal Government eliminates sources of fear and other barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing government services available to them…The Federal Government should develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship, and it should embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy.

Clearly, the administration seeks to re-establish a sense of decorum and compassion tot eh immigration system. The order goes on the delineate as to more concrete steps toward those ends:

Sec. 3.  Restoring Trust in our Legal Immigration System.  The Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall review existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (collectively, agency actions) that may be inconsistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

(a)  In conducting this review, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(i)   identify barriers that impede access to immigration benefits and fair, efficient adjudications of these benefits and make recommendations on how to remove these barriers, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law; and

(ii)  identify any agency actions that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system — such as the final rule entitled, “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements,” 85 Fed. Reg. 46788 (Aug. 3, 2020), in light of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act (title I of division D of Public Law 116-159) — and recommend steps, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to revise or rescind those agency actions.

(b)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall each submit a plan to the President describing the steps their respective agencies will take to advance the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

(c)  Within 180 days of submitting the plan described in subsection (b) of this section, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall each submit a report to the President describing the progress of their respective agencies towards implementing the plan developed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and recognizing any areas of concern or barriers to implementing the plan.

It remains to be seen precisely how this will impact the American immigration system, and it should be noted that the apparatus is unlikely to fundamentally change over night. That stated, there is good reason to hope there may be “light at the end of the tunnel” after months of seemingly unnecessary delay and obfuscation in the visa process. There does appear to one area of particular interest to the current administration with respect to US immigration. Namely, there have been a number of issues associated with the “Public Charge rule” and prior to the issue of COVID-19 coming to the forefront of immigration analysis, public charge was shaping up to be a significant obstacle for a number of family based immigration cases (including, but not limited to: the K-1 visa, the K-3 visa, the CR-1 visa, and the IR-1 visa categories). The recently promulgated order seems to take this issue seriously:

The Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the heads of other relevant agencies, as appropriate, shall review all agency actions related to implementation of the public charge ground of inadmissibility in section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4), and the related ground of deportability in section 237(a)(5) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(5).  They shall, in considering the effects and implications of public charge policies, consult with the heads of relevant agencies, including the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

(a)  This review should:

(i)    consider and evaluate the current effects of these agency actions and the implications of their continued implementation in light of the policy set forth in section 1 of this order;

(ii)   identify appropriate agency actions, if any, to address concerns about the current public charge policies’ effect on the integrity of the Nation’s immigration system and public health; and

(iii)  recommend steps that relevant agencies should take to clearly communicate current public charge policies and proposed changes, if any, to reduce fear and confusion among impacted communities.

(b)  Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall each submit a report to the President describing any agency actions identified pursuant to subsection (a)(ii) of this section and any steps their agencies intend to take or have taken, consistent with subsection (a)(iii) of this section.

It seems the administration is particularly keen to address the difficulties imposed by rules changes pertaining to public charge and hopefully some revision of the rules may be forthcoming sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, although there has not been a great deal of substantive change to current immigration policy in Thailand, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding possible policy changes to in an effort to revitalize the Thai tourism sector which, depending upon the source, seems to have seen between 1-3 million layoffs since the response to the pandemic began. Once solution discussed has been the notion of a “vaccine passport” or “immunity passport“. Essentially, this notion centers upon the idea that those who can prove they have been inoculated against COVID-19, via one of the many vaccinations currently on the market, will be allowed to travel to Thailand without the need to quarantine in one of the alternative state quarantine (ASQ) facilities. Notwithstanding the fact that there has ben a great deal of discussion on this matter, it currently appears, as with the so-called “travel bubble” scheme, that this program will not be implemented any time soon. As the tourism sector in Thailand languishes, long stay tourists may avail themselves to special tourist visas or standard TR visas to stay in Thailand. Furthermore, the Thai retirement visa remains a viable option for those wishing to travel to Thailand for retirement purposes.

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5th January 2021

As 2021 dawned the situation in Thailand, specifically the response to COVID-19, deteriorated. Presently, in place of full lockdowns, much of Thailand is operating under a system of provincial imposition of “highly controlled area” status which is restricting many operations many people once took for granted. How has this impacted the immigration system? Initially, it seemed this turn of events would not impact prospects for gaining admission to Thailand. Then, it appeared that those from the UK might be restricted from arriving in Thailand. To quote directly from the Bangkok Post:

The Ministry of Public Health will ask the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to defer the entry of British visitors to the country after the fast-spreading B117 strain of Covid-19 was found in four British nationals entering Thailand on Dec 21.

This caused a great deal of consternation especially among those seeking Thai visas from the Embassy in the UK. However, further deliberation seems to have resulted in the decision that arrivals from the United Kingdom will not be impeded. Quoting directly from The Nation:

Thailand’s measures to control the spread of Covid-19 are strong enough to not warrant special measures against travellers from the United Kingdom, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Thanee Saengrat said.

Based upon the above information, it seems logical to presume that the overall situation regarding foreign nationals arriving in Thailand remains much as it did prior to the new year. Meanwhile, a number of travelers are finding that trying to process their Thai visa application on their own from abroad is a cumbersome endeavor. The overall process of gaining lawful admission to Thailand is greatly changed compared to times past. One major sticking point for many is the addition of the certificate of entry to the process. This document is required in addition to a Thai visa. Concurrently, documentation showing a lack of infection for COVID-19 in addition to fit to fly documentation has proven nettlesome for many. Couple this with the fact that those entering Thailand are still required to undergo Alternative State Quarantine for 14 days prior to gaining total access to the Kingdom. There was some discussion regarding the possibility of seeing the quarantine time frame reduced to 10 days or even less. However, under present circumstances this seems highly unlikely. The notion of “travel bubble” arrangements also being brought online seems unlikely at this time as well.  Although many in Thailand are hopeful that the disbursement of a vaccine may result in a return of tourists in 2021. As of the time of this writing, this remains conjecture.

Turning to American immigration, many have found themselves in a kind of processing “limbo” with respect to cases such as the K-1 fiance visa as well as the various marriage visas including the K-3 visa, CR-1 and IR-1 visa categories. Currently, a large number of cases remain at the National Visa Center and seem unlikely to be processed out for interview soon. There appeared to be hope in the last part of the final quarter of 2020 as some cases were being scheduled for interview, but that hope may be dashed as the current situation in Thailand may result in further interview cancellations. This situation is fluid and still evolving.

Many hope that a transition to a new administration will herald an end to certain arbitrary and capricious aspects of the immigration process in its current form, but it should be noted that it takes time for bureaucracies to change and therefore a Biden presidency may not immediately see major changes to visa case processing in 2021.

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12th March 2020

In our prior posting on this blog the issue of coronavirus and the impact upon US and Thai Immigration was discussed. At the time of that posting it appeared that a number of foreign nationals were going to see their visa exemption and/or visa on arrival privileges suspended in the wake of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. It now appears this this policy is being put on hold. To quote directly from the Star:

The government has put on hold its plan to suspend visa on arrival (VoA) for 18 countries and visa-free entry from high-risk areas (South Korea, Hong Kong and Italy) after an urgent meeting on Thursday (March 12). The Department of Consular Affairs director-general, Chatree Atchananant, said that the matter will be discussed further at a Cabinet meeting on March 17.

Exactly if or when this policy will be enforced, if ever, remains to be seen. It is clear that governments around the world are having difficulty in crafting coherent policy in response to the spread of COVID-19. WE will keep this blog as up to date as possible as the situation evolves.

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17th April 2018

In recent months, this blogger has dealt with a number of cases involving Thai visa applications at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. Furthermore, after initial visa issuance there have been a number of cases involving Thai visa extensions. In nearly every case the process of obtaining the initial visa or extending the previously issued visa has seemed to be more difficult when compared to the past. This blogger has discussed this issue with other expatriates and long term visitors in Thailand and the general consensus seems to conclude that immigration matters are becoming more difficult in the Kingdom. A valid question to ask: is this true? The answer: yes, at least to some degree. While it does not appear that those seeking visas through the One-Stop visa and work permit facilities are particularly burdened by increased document scrutiny and more stringent policy enforcement, although those able to seek benefits in the One-Stop facilities generally would not be particularly “borderline” cases and therefore may not need to fret over increased scrutiny anyway. It does appear that current immigration protocols have had the effect, whether intended or not, of making the process comparatively more difficult to undergo.

It should be noted that processing a visa application through a Thai Consulate abroad or seeking an extension at an immigration office in Thailand is by no means impossible. However, without assiduous compilation of requisite documentation, careful recordation of relevant photographic evidence, and, in some cases, assistance of competent accounting professionals well-versed in the necessities of Thai immigration officials the task of extending a visa can seem virtually insurmountable. There are those who pose the question: does there appear to be any point in the future where these difficulties may ease up? This blogger’s answer: no. Since the advent of the “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” initiative, immigration officials in multiple regions and in multiple roles have made it clear that relevant regulations will be strictly adhered to while the use of discretion will be curtailed. If anything, it appears that the overarching stringency may spread to other realms which impact foreigners in Thailand. In fact, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Labor Ministry officials are not as readily issuing 1 year work permits as they once were. Meanwhile, Thai Embassies and Consulates that were once rather lax in issuing long term multiple entry visas for Thailand have either stopped completely, or vastly curtailed the criteria under which such visas would be issued.

The immigration apparatus of Thailand is increasingly looking more and more like those of its counterparts in the West and although many westerners travel to Thailand and complain about the stringency of immigration policy in the Kingdom it still should be noted that Thai Immigration regulations are still, generally speaking, more relaxed than those of the home countries of many of the aggrieved arrivals.

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29th August 2013

The rules regarding processing and adjudication of applications for one year multiple entry Thai visas appear to have changed. The following was recently posted on the official website of the Honorary Thai Consulate in Birmingham, UK:

With immediate effect all Non-Immigrant Multiple Entry visas can not be issued on the same day, as we require authorisation from the Royal Thai Embassy  in London. Once approval has been granted the visa will be issued.
If your application is declined you will be informed.
Please ensure we have your UK contact telephone number.
All other visas will be issued on the same day as usual  providing we have all the correct documentation.

Although the procedural change noted above may not negatively affect Thai visa applicants, it may be an indication that Thai authorities are more diligently scrutinizing long term visa applications. Some visa issuance procedures have been in a state of flux for some time now, as many Royal Thai Honorary Consulates in the United States have already placed information on their websites which states that only 90 day Thai business visas will be issued and those wishing to remain longer in the Kingdom of Thailand must make a request for a Thai work permit and Thai visa extension.

As noted above, in the past it was possible to obtain one year multiple entry Thai visas from some Honorary Thai Consulates in as little as a day. However, as new non-immigrant multiple entry visa applications appear to be subject to increased scrutiny from Thai Consular Officers it could be argued that more long term Thai visa applications may be denied in the future.

The posting of these processing changes have come shortly after recent reports that Thai visa stickers destined for Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad went missing and that some foreign nationals in Thailand had been found with previously unaccounted for stickers in their passports. Perhaps Thai authorities are implementing stricter visa processing and adjudication rules in an attempt to curtail immigration fraud, or these rule changes could simply be the result of the naturally evolving state of Thai immigration policy. On a related note, it was recently reported that Thai immigration officials are thinking of implementing new E-visa procedures at the various Thai Consulates and Embassies around the world in order to maintain more security in the visa process. In any case, it appears that those seeking long term Thai visas from Thai Consulates and Embassies abroad will see their applications examined more closely compared to the past.

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29th July 2013

Thailand Visa Update

Posted by : admin

There have been some recent developments with respect to Thai visas. The following information is for general use only and should not be construed to apply to every unique situation as there are often numerous Thai visa options for those wishing to travel and remain in the Kingdom of Thailand for a prolonged period of time.

Thailand Business Visas

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention that 12 month multiple entry Thai business visas are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain from Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. For example, the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur recently announced that it will no longer issue 12 month multiple entry business visas to applicants as applicants are now only able to obtain a 90 day Thai Business Visa (officially referred to as the Non-Immigrant “B” Visa) at that post. Applicants are encouraged to first obtain a 90 day Thai business visa and subsequently apply for a Thai work permit and visa extension in the Kingdom of Thailand. However, it would appear that the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang may issue 12 month multiple entry business visas under limited circumstances. It seems that those who have previously obtained a multiple entry Thai business visa and Thai work permit may be eligible to obtain another one year Thai business visa from the Thai Consulate in Penang. Meanwhile it would seem that the other Thai Embassies and Thai Consulates around the world are becoming increasingly hesitant to issue one year multiple entry Thai business visas and in those situations where such visas are issued they are only granted after significant scrutiny by the Consular officers issuing such travel documents.

Thailand Retirement Visas

In some cases, a foreign national may be eligible to obtain a Thai retirement visa. However, Thai Immigration officials are carefully reviewing applications for Thai retirement visas. In fact, this blogger has  learned that issues surrounding the finances of the applicant for a Thai retirement visa are of increasing concern for Thai Immigration officers. In fact, Thai Immigration officers seem to be seeking larger amounts of evidence concerning a retiree’s financial situation compared to past applications.

Thailand O Visas

The O visa in Thailand is technically classified as a miscellaneous visa category. Generally, this visa category is used by foreign nationals with family in Thailand (this is why this category is sometimes referred to as a Thai marriage visa notwithstanding the fact that  it could be used by any family member of a Thai national). As is the case with the Thai retirement visa, the finances of the foreign national seeking an O visa is of central concern to the Thai Immigration authorities especially when the foreign national is seeking a Thai O visa based upon marriage to a Thai. Therefore, those seeking Thai O visas should be prepared to show substantial evidence of ability to financially support oneself, and one’s spouse, while in Thailand.

Thailand Education Visas

The Thai Education visa (categorized by Thai Immigration as the “ED” visa) is more widely used by foreign nationals in Thailand compared to times past. That stated, Immigration officials examine such applications with a great deal of thoroughness. It should be noted that those staying in the Kingdom on an ED visa based upon attendance at a Thai language school may be tested on their Thai language ability by Immigration officers. Therefore, if one has been present in Thailand on an ED visa for a significant period of time, but cannot show a basic understanding of Thai the ED visa could be revoked.

For related information please see: Thailand work permit

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4th February 2010

Among the Expatriate Community in Thailand, one of the popular websites for up-to-the-minute information about visas and immigration issues is: Thaivisa.com. At the time of this writing Thaivisa.com is reporting that the free Thai tourist visa program is coming to an end. To quote a posting on that site directly:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, who oversees the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates worldwide, today confirms to Thaivisa.com that visa fees will be levied for all visa classes from March 5, 2010. Tourist visas are valid for a 60 days stay and may be extended at local Thai Immigration offices…Tourist visas has been issued free of charge since June 25, 2009 in an effort to revive the Thai travel and tourism industry.”

As stated above, the Tourist visa fee waiver program was initiated to help in reviving the beleaguered Thai tourism industry which suffered some setbacks after an airport closure and the worldwide economic downturn. It would seem that these measures have been successful in buoying the economy as the decision has been made to end the program.

This may come as a relief to the staff of Royal Thai Consulates and Embassies overseas as it has been rumored that the tourist visa fee waiver has caused an upsurge in tourist visa applications and caused a drain upon the resources of many Thai Diplomatic and Consular postings.

These authors hope that the rescission of the Thai visa fee waiver marks the beginning of an overall recovery in the Thai tourism sector as it is one of the most important facets of Thailand’s service economy. The impact that the re-imposition of the tourist visa application fee will have upon the “visa run” remains to be seen, but many believe that most visa runners will continue to opt for the tourist visa as it currently provides a significantly longer duration of status compared to land border visa exemptions which are currently only being granted for a maximum validity of 15 days.

Some have also noted that the end of the free tourist visa may result in the increased promulgation of dual entry tourist visas as Thai Consulates and Embassies are more willing to grant such travel documents because they are once again being compensated for the processing.

It should be noted that a 60 day Thai tourist visa can be extended by 30 more days if the bearer takes their passport and visa to a local Thai Immigration office and pays the extension fee. At present, the extension fee is approximately 1900 Thai baht.

For related information please see: Business Visa Thailand.

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13th January 2010

Thailand visa issues seem to be one of the most popular topics discussed on this blog. This may be due to the fact that many people who travel to the Kingdom of Thailand find that they would prefer to remain for a long period of time. Unfortunately, obtaining a Thai long term visa seems to be getting more and more difficult as visa regulations become increasingly complex and cumbersome. That being said, there is one rule that can have a major impact upon one’s chances of obtaining a Thai visa. This rule deals with foreign passport validity.

In many cases, Thai Consular Officers working at Consulates and Embassies overseas are hesitant to provide long term visas to Thailand if the applicant’s underlying passport is not valid for the entire duration of the visa. This being said, there is a bright line rule at most Consulates: the applicant must have at least 6 months of validity left on their passport in order for any visa to be issued. However, as a practical matter Consular Officers have a great deal of discretion regarding visa issuance and short term passport validity is frowned upon. This negative attitude could translate into a Thai visa application’s denial if the officer is uncomfortable issuing a visa to the applicant based upon the totality of the circumstances.

For those interested in obtaining a Thailand visa it is wise to have a passport that is valid for at least one year. Further, some posts prefer machine readable passports as they provide an extra level of security and act as a means of preventing visa fraud because it is more difficult to forge a machine readable travel document.

As with US Consulates and Embassies, each Thai Consulate or Thai Embassy has a slightly unique procedure for processing visa applications and as a result the above information should be checked against the post policies and guidelines at the time of application. As a general rule, a Thai visa applicant would be wise to present a well-founded application along with a machine readable passport valid for more than six months, but preferably more than one year.

For Americans seeking a new passport in Thailand please contact the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy Bangkok as this office is primarily responsible for passport issuance to those resident in Thailand. For those living in Northern Thailand the US Consulate Chiang Mai can also assist with passport procurement for American Citizens.

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17th November 2009

As more and more Thais marry foreign nationals the Thai diaspora grows. Many Thai-American couples immigrate to the United States of America using either a fiance visa such as a K1 visa or a marriage visa like a K3 visa or CR1 visa. When these couples have children a few questions arise. First, what is the child’s nationality? Second, is the child entitled to dual nationality. Third, if entitled to a Thai passport how do we go about obtaining one? This is where the Thai Consular Report of Birth Abroad comes into play.

It should be noted that a child born to a Thai mother overseas is born with Thai nationality. A child born to a Thai father abroad is probably Thai although there are some restrictions in the Thai Nationality act. For our purposes we will assume the child is born with Thai nationality.

In order for a Thai national who was born abroad to obtain a Thai passport a Consular Report of Birth Abroad must be obtained by the foreign born Thai. This report of birth abroad is similar to the US Consular Report of Birth Abroad in that it provides proof that the child was born to a Citizen of the Kingdom of Thailand. Pursuant to relevant sections of Thai nationality law, the child of a Thai Citizen is Thai. Therefore, once a report of birth abroad is issued a Thai passport can be acquired.

Some are under the mistaken impression that Thais and Americans cannot have dual nationality. This is not true. There is no provision under Thai law prohibiting dual nationality. Further, United States nationality law does not prohibit dual nationality. The major issue for dual nationals concerns their two home countries. A Thai-American with dual nationality is considered exclusively an American citizen when in the United States of America (or one of its protectorates, possessions, or territories) and exclusively a Thai citizen when in the Kingdom of Thailand.

There can be a great many problems that can arise if one fails to obtain a Thai Consular Report of Birth Abroad on behalf of one’s child. This is particularly true if the child later wishes to reside in Thailand with the same benefits as other Thai citizens. Proving Thai citizenship from birth can be difficult if there has been a long period of time between the child’s birth and subsequent application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. There can be particularly daunting problems if the Thai national is a boy because there are military draft requirements for male Thais. If one does not fulfill their draft obligations and subsequently wishes to obtain a Thai passport the bureaucratic difficulties could be legion. Therefore, it may be wise to retain the advice of a Thai attorney or law firm if a man wishes to sort out his Thai nationality after missing his draft year.

A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can be issued at a Thai Embassy or Consulate in the country where the Thai was born. The Thai posts have a section similar to the  American Citizen Services section at a US Embassy which handles Reports of Birth Abroad.

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18th October 2009

While traveling  recently to Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) the author had the opportunity to visit the Royal Thai Embassy in that country. The first impression of the Embassy compound was not positive as the building itself is in somewhat dilapidated condition. However, the first impression is misleading as the inside of the Consular Services section is quite nice as well as being very clean and cool. The Consular staff at the Thai Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon) were very friendly, efficient, and helpful. That being said, foreknowledge of the Consulate’s protocol is always helpful in making certain that one’s experience with the post is pleasant.

The first thing to note about the Thai Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon) is the fact that there is a security guard at the front who acts as a sort of gatekeeper for the facility. Access is obtained after obtaining a number and turning over a piece of identification. This rule seems loosely enforced with regard to farangs, but as I was accompanying a Burmese national, I did not need to present ID as my associate produced her Myanmar ID Card. There are a great many “backpackers,” and tourists using this post as it is one of the closest to the Kingdom of Thailand, and therefore an easy destination for a visa run. That being said, it is not nearly as popular as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or Vientiane, if for no other reason than the fact that Myanmar requires a visa for nearly all tourists and greatly restricts the issuance of visas on arrival. Therefore, acquiring a Thai visa from Myanmar (Burma) may necessitate the obtainment of a Myanmar (Burmese) visa in order to travel to the country and visit the Thai Embassy.

Generally, visa applications are dropped off in the morning and picked up the next day. Depending upon the situation, the applicant’s passport and visa may be retrieved in the same afternoon. The address of the Royal Thai Embassy in Myanmar (Burma) is:

No.94, Pyay Road,
Dagon Township Yangon
Union of Myanmar

The office hours for visa application submissions are 9:00 am until 11:30 am. One may retrieve their passport in the afternoon from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm. One should be aware that the Union of Myanmar (Burma) is in a different time zone. There is a half hour difference between the time in Myanmar and the time in Thailand. This can be the cause of a great deal of consternation as it is very difficult to keep track of the local time if one has become accustomed to the Thailand time zone.

For more information please see the Royal Thai Embassy website: here.

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