Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘visa exemption stamp’

12th March 2020

It now appears that the previously discussed restrictions of visa exemption and visa on arrival privileges will be implemented. To quote a recent article from The Nation:

(Update) Beginning on Friday (March 13), visitors to Thailand from 18 countries will no longer be eligible for visas on arrival, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda announced on Thursday…Anupong said visitors must apply for visas in their home countries and bring a certificate of sound health…Visitors from hard-hit locales Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong also become ineligible for visa-free entry, he said. The 18 countries are Bulgaria, Bhutan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and “China (including Taiwan)”…Department of Consular Affairs’ director-general Chatree Atchananant said earlier today that there would be no official announcement of the measure until the Cabinet considers it on March 17, before Anupong came out later to confirm that the measure would be implemented tomorrow (March 13).

As evidenced from the back-and-forth noted above, the coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic is causing a great deal of confusion at a policy level as officials seem hard pressed to come to a coherent solution which will protect the uninfected while simultaneously having the least detrimental impact upon foreign tourism and the overall Thai economy.

As this situation continues we will update this blog accordingly.

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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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11th March 2020

The Coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, has been a major issue in recent days and it appears to be having a substantial impact upon immigration policy in the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand. In a recent article from the Bangkok Post, it was noted that visa exemption stamps and visa on arrival privileges are being suspended for citizens of certain countries, quoting directly from a recent article:

Thailand on Wednesday cancelled the grant of visa on arrival for 18 countries and visa exemption for three others…The 18 places are: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Visa exemption will be cancelled for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong…

It also appears that Thai Embassy and Consulate officials will begin requiring medical certificates by visa applicants, to quote directly from a recent article in Reuters:

Chatree Atchananant, director-general of the foreign ministry’s Consular Affairs Department, said visa applicants will need to present medical certificates and insurance as part of the screening at Thai embassies.

Meanwhile, some days ago officials in the USA had previously announced that US visa issuance and travel would be greatly curtailed by those either coming from China or other areas impacted by the virus. More recently, it has been announced that all travel from Europe to the United States will be suspended. To quote directly from a recent article from Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said he will suspend all travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days, the most far-reaching measure yet in the administration’s efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus…The World Health Organization earlier Wednesday declared the outbreak is now a pandemic and urged governments to step up containment efforts as the number of worldwide cases topped 123,000 and deaths exceeded 4,500.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues the travel industries of various countries are reeling. In Thailand, the tourism industry has taken a major hit. Concurrently, the immigration systems of both the USA and Thailand are dealing with the issue in different ways. Although the laws governing Thai visa and American visa issuance have not substantively changed, Thai and American immigration and customs officials have broad plenary and discretionary authority to deal with public health and safety matters as they see fit. Exactly how this situation will continue to evolve remains to be seen, but we will continue posting information and analysis on the legal and immigration ramifications of this pandemic.

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3rd April 2019

In recent weeks, a major topic of conversation among the expat community has been the issue of address notification for foreign nationals staying in locations other than those noted on prior immigration documentation (e.g. prior application for extension of stay, or an address noted on a TM6 arrival card). In a recent article from the BuriRam Times the Head of Immigration, Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn was noted for making comments regarding changes to the penalty system associated with landlords failing to report foreigners staying on their premises:

“Channel 7 said that in the past warnings to people such as hotel owners and condo owners for failing to report foreigners in their properties would now be replaced by fines.”

In order to provide further clarity on this topic it may be best to quote directly from the official site of Thai Immigration:

“According to section 38 of the 1979 immigration act, “House owners, heads of household, landlords or managers of hotels who accommodate foreign nationals on a temporary basis who stay in the kingdom legally, must notify the local immigration authorities within 24 hours from the time of arrival of the foreign national.” If there is no immigration office in the province or locality of the respective house or hotel, the notification is made to the local police station. In Bangkok the notification is made to the Immigration Bureau. The notification of residence of foreign nationals is made by the manager of licensed hotels according to the hotel act, owners of guesthouses, mansions, apartments and rented houses using the form TM. 30. The notification of residence of foreign nationals within 24 hours can be made in a number of ways…”

Clearly, landlords have an affirmative duty to report foreigners staying on their premises through use of the TM30 form. What some foreign nationals staying in Thailand are unaware of is the fact that the duty to notify Thai Immigration of a change in address does not fall exclusively upon the landlord of the location at which the foreigner is staying, but in fact the duty also falls upon the foreign national in question to also unilaterally notify Royal Thai Immigration Police of a change in location (if the duration of stay is longer than 24 hours) through use of the TM28 form. As the administration of this blog reads the relevant regulations, foreign nationals who are deemed to be temporarily staying in the Kingdom must submit the TM28 form if their address should change. What constitutes an address change? Any stay of 24 hours in a given location. In what type of visa status is a foreign national considered to be staying “temporarily” in Thailand? The regulations would seem to dictate that those staying in the Kingdom on a visa exemption stamp, visa on arrival, tourist visa, or any type of non-immigrant visa (including, but not limited to, categories: B, O, ED, or O-A retirement) are considered to be staying in the Kingdom temporarily (regardless of the total duration of stay) and therefore are required to comply with the rules associated with the TM28.

Immigration officials have noted that the Immigration regulations are likely to soon see amendment due to the fact that many of the protocols associated with Thai Immigration law are somewhat outdated. Actual amendment of the regulations remains to be seen, but we will update readers as soon as changes occur.

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