Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

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Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

Both of these are developing stories. As more details become available we will publish them.

The visa amnesty extension is certainly a pleasant surprise. The expectation was the amnesty would not be extended. Foreigners still stranded in Thailand were getting panicky about what to do. There will be a great many sighs of relief once the news spreads.

As for the emergency decree extension, there are many people opposed to it, saying it grants the government too much power. In Bangkok there are already demonstrations opposing it. For me, I am delighted about the extension. I am very pleased with the way controlling the virus has been handled. I am not among those who oppose the extension and I have seen nothing to indicate the government wants to impose unreasonable restrictions. While I do think a few - very few - restrictions might be a little over the top, I would much rather live with the restrictions than see Thailand go through anything similar to what is happening in the USA. I truly believe the Thai government is absolutely sincere about what they are trying to do and are not trying to use the virus as an excuse to impose a dictatorship. This is not the Reichstag fire.
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Thai Cabinet approves visa amnesty extension to September 26, says government spokesperson

By Adam Judd

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Thai Cabinet has approved amnesty for foreigners on visa extensions until almost the end of September, the 26th, a government official, Traisuree Taisaranakul, stated to the press mid afternoon.

The current amnesty was set to expire at the end of this month. It allows foreigners in the country to stay in Thailand without needing a proper visa as long as their visa did not expire before March 26th. The amnesty extension also suspends 90 day reporting, a government source confirmed, although it can still be done if one chooses. An estimated number of around 250,000 foreigners remain in the country on amnesty status.

At this time, additional details or information have not been given other then a brief announcement about the amnesty being approved. Traisuree Taisaranakul however did state that appearing in person at Immigration would not be needed for those on amnesty. It is possible there may be additional requirements or processes required in the final order, which has not been released.

The amnesty will be a large breath of relief for many foreigners in the country. Although less people are truly stranded then before, many in the country did not want to face the prospect of leaving Thailand, which has had zero cases of Covid-19 in 55 days locally spread, and returning to their own countries. Many countries around the world are having spikes and increases in the virus and are even re-introducing lockdowns and restrictions whereas Thailand is fairly restriction free, with even nightlife venues open. With the amnesty extended but borders still closed to tourists the amnesty also allows foreigners in the country to contribute to the local economy.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/07/21/t ... tember-26/
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CCSA and National Security Council of Thailand approve proposal to extend Emergency Decree another month

By Adam Judd

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

At a meeting between members of the National Security Council and the CCSA both parties approved this afternoon a proposal to extend the emergency decree, which will now be presented to the Prime Minister to make a final decision on tomorrow.

The decree gives the government and the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, sweeping powers. The Government states these powers allow them to better manage the situation with the Covid19 Coronavirus. Opponents of the decree claim it is not needed now that Thailand has gone over 55 days without a single locally spread case and that other laws can handle issues like repatriation of Thai Nationals and quarantine for foreigners.

The Government states that due to the pandemic still raging around the world and more phases planned around loosening rules and regulations introduced to control the Covid-19 Coronavirus that the decree is necessary. They also stated that exisiting rules do not allow them to properly control the situation and could lead to “piecemeal” solutions by provincial governors.

The head of the committee that decides what regulations and restrictions to loosen, Somsak Roongsita, has said the extension of the decree has nothing to do with the recent case of two foreigners on state quarantine exemptions in the country that were infected with Covid19. One, a 43 year old Egyptian soldier, visited a shopping mall on July 11 in Rayong province causing a panic but no sign of new infections as of today.

Opponents of extending the decree on Thai media fear the decree could be used to potentially curb anti government protests that have begun again, with large crowds gathering over the past weekend to protest Thai government policies. The decree contains a ban on mass gatherings and draconian penalities for violations.

In Pattaya, the decree supercedes the city having special administrative status which allows many benefits such as later closing for entertainment venues and special rulesets. Currently, all nightlife venues are ordered by a national order to close at midnight.

The proposal to extend the decree is not final and needs approval from the Prime Minister who is widely expected to extend it. He is scheduled to review the proposal tomorrow, Wednesday, July 22.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/07/21/c ... her-month/

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

Part of the article says, "The mandatory 90-day reporting for foreigners residing in Thailand is also suspended".

Who knows? Maybe they'll finally wise up and do away with it entirely.
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Gov’t Renews Visa Amnesty for Foreigners Stranded in Pandemic

By Khaosod English

July 21, 2020

BANGKOK — The Cabinet on Tuesday said it extended the amnesty for foreigners’ stay in Thailand amid the global coronavirus outbreak for a second time.

The automatic extension of stay in the Kingdom, which was to expire on July 31, is now renewed until Sep. 26, according to government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

The mandatory 90-day reporting for foreigners residing in Thailand is also suspended, she said. The announcement was later published in the Cabinet minutes released by the government.

Officials said the measure will help travelers who found themselves stranded in Thailand due to travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the visa amnesty, the foreigners will not have to queue up at immigration to report their residency or extend their stay in the country.

https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/cri ... -approved/

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by 2lz2p »

Gaybutton wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 4:36 pm
As for the emergency decree extension, there are many people opposed to it, saying it grants the government too much power. In Bangkok there are already demonstrations opposing it. For me, I am delighted about the extension. I am very pleased with the way controlling the virus has been handled. I am not among those who oppose the extension and I have seen nothing to indicate the government wants to impose unreasonable restrictions. While I do think a few - very few - restrictions might be a little over the top, I would much rather live with the restrictions than see Thailand go through anything similar to what is happening in the USA. I truly believe the Thai government is absolutely sincere about what they are trying to do and are not trying to use the virus as an excuse to impose a dictatorship. This is not the Reichstag fire.
Totally Agree!

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

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Thai Immigration releases more information on “Grace Period” for visa amnesty

By Adam Judd

Friday, 24 July 2020

Image


Thai Immigration, along with the English Spokesperson for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, have released more information regarding a grace period for those in Thailand currently on visa amnesty.

The visa amnesty applies to tourists in the country who had a visa expire since March 26th, 2020.

What does this mean, broken down in simple terms? The Pattaya News will explain below. Please keep in mind that although current as of publishing time this may be subject to change or individual rules and restrictions depending on your embassy or Immigration office:

-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=–=-=-

Short term Visa Amnesty:

If you are currently on visa amnesty on a short term visa (tourist) you have until September 26th to leave the country unless you apply for another visa type or show you are unable to leave.

If you are unable to return home due to lack of flights or restrictions in your home country you must have a letter from your embassy that says so and provide the letter to Immigration by September 26th at the latest.

If you are unable to return home due to sickness, you must also provide proof to Immigration.

Those who plan to leave before September 26th do not have to inform Immigration but must leave before that date. It is clear at this time there will be no further universal amnesty or grace period after this date.

-=-=-=-==-=-=-=–==-=-=-=-

Long Stay Visa Holders:

If your regular yearly visa expired, is expiring or needs renewal during the amnesty period you have until September 26th to visit Immigration and sort this situation out with them. If your visa normally requires a trip out of the country as a condition of entry exceptions could possibly be given on a case by case basis but must be discussed with Immigration. You could also hire a visa agent if you choose to help sort through this information.

All types of visa extensions for long term visa holders will start on September 27th…Immigration urges to complete this sooner than later and not be concerned about possibly “losing” weeks of time for completing the extension early.

–=-=-=-==-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Anyone who had a 90 day check in due from March 26 to July 31 has until August 31 to perform their regular 90 day check in, either in person or online.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

All overstay related penalties and fines will take effect starting September 27, 2020.

-=-=-==-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=–=-

The Pattaya News encourages people to complete their required work sooner than later as it is highly likely Immigration Offices will be severely busy near the end of the Grace Period.

Questions? Visit your nearest Immigration office in person or call 1178.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/07/24/t ... a-amnesty/

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

In a nutshell, I interpret this to mean if there is any doubt about immigration approving you for a longer stay in Thailand, then start making arrangements to leave Thailand - and don't wait. Start now trying to find a way out.

If I were in that position, I'd be trying to get a seat on one of those London flights. See: https://www.gaybuttonthai.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10455

It seems to be almost as difficult for foreigners to find a way out of Thailand as it is for foreigners to find a way in . . .
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New Thai immigration visa amnesty to September 26 has many discretionary elements to watch for

By Barry Kenyon

July 25, 2020

Thai immigration has now cleared up most of the macro questions relating to the visa amnesty period to September 26. It is decidedly more detailed and complex than its predecessor ending on July 31. Local discretion in immigration offices has always been present, as Thaivisa.com rightly reminds us on a daily basis, but that official latitude has now grown immeasurably.

Foreigners with an original visa for 15-60 days (or a visa-exempt stamp) – provided you arrived in the country on March 26 or later – can now stay hassle-free until September 26. Effectively, short-term tourists have been given a six months free extension under the two amnesties. They do not need to take any action, fill in any forms or pay any money. Bon voyage.

But if foreigners in those categories do stay longer, without permission, they face prosecution and blacklisting. The latest information does not go into detail about fines, but the best advice is not to wait and find out. However, there are three reasons why such a foreigner may seek permission from the immigration to stay longer than September 26: if they are too ill to travel (get a letter from the hospital), if there are no flights available to their foreign destination (obtain a letter from your embassy which will be on a scale of fairly easy to absolutely impossible) and if there is a sudden new coronavirus outbreak which limits international travel (hypothetical situation).

The immigration authorities will handle each individual above on a case-by-case basis, but each extension will be for a month or less. Just because you are waving around a letter from a hospital or an embassy just not mean an automatic extension. You can bet your bottom dollar that detailed questions will be asked and, in some cases, further documentation required. After six months that’s understandable.

Those foreigners with a 90 days non-immigrant visa (for example, type B for business/employment or type O for family or type Ed for student status) who wish to stay beyond September 26 will need to appear at their immigration office between now and then with their weighty and relevant documentation under their arm to apply for a fresh visa. Again, decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

Many of the foreigners having good reasons to stay will have multiple-entry non-immigrant visas but, as matters stand, cannot do a border run or leave the country and return because of immigration restrictions here and abroad. The immigration bureau is advising such applicants to apply “early” and not wait till mid-September when queues will be longer and tempers frayed all round. These new visas will all be dated from September 27, presumably for three months in most cases. Best of luck.

Those foreigners with visas or extensions of stay for a year or more should renew at the usual time as stated in their passport. Both amnesties were, and are, directed at short stayers and not at retirees or spouses on one year extensions, or the few with an 0/X (ten year) permission to stay. However, these groups were permitted in the amnesty finishing on July 31 to ignore their 90 day report to avoid overcrowding at immigration branches. That 90 day amnesty has now ended and the three-monthly chore must be done any time during the month of August for those whose due date fell between March 26 and July 31. On-line registration of address works in some areas.

Those in any doubt about their position should clarify it in person at their local immigration office. That would certainly include smaller groups of people such as pending work permit applicants and Elite visa card holders. To misquote Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts and be prepared for a bumpy ride.”

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/ne ... for-308795

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

After reading Barry's article below, if anyone outside of Thailand still thinks you're going to get to return to Thailand any time soon, or even within reasonably foreseeable future, let me know. I'm curious as to what makes you think so.

By the way, those of you who think Thailand will relent and start opening tourism again because of economics, I don't know, but I still have seen nothing to indicate Thailand is even going to take that into consideration.

Many are posting on all kinds of boards with their ideas and opinions as to what Thailand should do, might be forced to do, or how attention should also be focused on other major causes of death and chaos. However, I don't recall any Thai powers-that-be asking for farang advice. The only thing that counts is what Thailand is gonna do and when they're going to do it, regardless whether their decisions make sense to us.

In short, don't start packing your bags for a holiday in Thailand just yet . . .
_________________________________________________________________

Elite card is not a free pass to return to Thailand

By Barry Kenyon

August 3, 2020

Following press reports in UK that the long-stay visa known as Elite is an automatic permission to return to Thailand, Thai embassies abroad are stressing that all foreigners must follow the proper procedures. There have been several instances of Elite card holders purchasing an air ticket to Bangkok online only to be refused boarding at the airport.

The Elite is a 5-20 year visa offered in exchange for a non-returnable, initial cash payment of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 baht according to which option is chosen. Last month, the Thai government agreed to allow Elite holders to be included in the list of foreigners who are eligible to request entry permission from the Thai embassy in the country of intended departure.

The other privileged groups are permanent residents, who hold a police red book, medical tourists seeking substantial surgery, work permit holders and sponsored business people, registered students and those with Thai wives or dependents to support. All these potential groups, plus Elite holders, must submit copious documentation to the appropriate Thai embassy including proof of medical insurance worth at least US$100,000 and proof of virus-free status. Another requirement is that all non-Thais pay for 14-days quarantine at a state-approved hotel on arrival.

The Thai foreign affairs ministry stresses that all applications are handled on a case by case basis. Nobody can travel without a certificate of entry issued by the embassy after consultation with Bangkok authorities. General tourists and retirees are not currently included in the list of categories permitted to return, according to the website of the Thai embassy in UK. Thailand has been coronavirus-free of community transmission for several months, but there are regular Covid-19 cases of returning Thais who have been identified during the compulsory quarantine period.

The Elite card is not issued by Thai embassies worldwide but by the government in Bangkok after liaison with the immigration bureau. Applications can be made on-line from virtually anywhere in the world and are welcome irrespective of age or nationality. However, Elite membership does not allow working in Thailand nor ownership of land. It is basically a long-term visitor visa which additionally carries perks such as fast-track immigration and discounts at some leisure and retail outlets. Holders are not exempt from the requirement to report their address every 90 days if they have not left the country for three months.

Several British nationals, desperate to return to Thailand, told Pattaya Mail that they had applied on-line and been told the processing period was between two weeks and two months. Once granted, the card could be picked up by special arrangement at a Bangkok airport. They are allowed to request permission to travel from the Thai embassy during the application period after payment of the cash sum. One applicant Roger Inkerman said, “The Elite offers me the only possible way to return this year, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Views differ on the overall merits of Elite. Some claim it is expensive, does not exclude members from regular reporting at the immigration bureau and has few tangible benefits. But others point out that a cash payment of 500,000 baht for a guaranteed five years is a fair deal, especially as there are no further financial requirements or checks. Roger Inkerman concluded, “It’s good value for money when you remember that the annual Thai retirement visa requires you always to have 800,000 baht in your account for five months and 400,000 baht for the other seven. This is money you can’t spend. Elite is a better deal.”

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/el ... and-309876

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Jun »

Gaybutton wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:13 am
After reading Barry's article below, if anyone outside of Thailand still thinks you're going to get to return to Thailand any time soon, or even within reasonably foreseeable future, let me know. I'm curious as to what makes you think so.

By the way, those of you who think Thailand will relent and start opening tourism again because of economics, I don't know, but I still have seen nothing to indicate Thailand is even going to take that into consideration.
I do think Thailand will be under significant pressure to open tourism again.
The people who make a living from the 20% of the economy supported by tourism will be suffering & I expect the government will be under some pressure to start reopening.

I'd guess they would allow significant tourism within 6 months.
Of course, I'm in no position to be certain about this and it's an estimate based on economics and the resulting pressure on the government, not one that takes into account the culture & financial interests of the government. Anyone who understands the government better than me might be in a position to make a better prediction.

So I'm not one of those board members who claims superior insight and is certain about a forthcoming event (until it doesn't happen).
Just on balance I think they will do some reopening within 6 months.
Whether or not people from specific countries have their people allowed into Thailand during the first wave of relaxations would presumably depend on infection rates at that time.

Of course this is one of many areas where people with an interest in the outcome speculate on what might happen, without really knowing. Foreign exchange rates are another example.

What's your prediction and how confident are you ?

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Up2u »

I live in Pattaya, both Thais and expats are paranoid about reopening. That's the chatter even in the Jomtien Complex. No effective vaccine means no reopening. Learn from history and the Spanish flu, the plan should be that the world is experiencing just the first wave (three to follow?). A Thai government official just floated the idea of letting in some Chinese tourists and the response has been negative. My prediction is with an effective vaccine we will see travel restrictions eased in the summer of 2021.

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

Jun wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:48 pm
What's your prediction and how confident are you ?
I can't make much of a prediction. I can only go by what I see the Thai government doing. I see no enthusiasm from the Thai government or people, including those still out of work, about letting tourists come in, no matter where they come from.

The closest I can come to a prediction would be based on what I see going on - and from that I believe it will be a very long time before tourists can come into Thailand unimpeded or even at all. Just how long that will be - I have no idea.

However, I do think predictions about Thailand opening up to tourists any time soon, when all the evidence I've seen shows Thailand doing precisely the opposite, is only wishful thinking.

I don't know how many people reading this realize who Barry Kenyon is, but he is the former British Consul in Pattaya. He is in a position to know more about the goings on at immigration and the Thai government than any other farang I know of.

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Re: Good news & Bad news - Visa amnesty extended, but emergency decree extended too

Post by Gaybutton »

Foreign tourists and retirees excluded from latest approval list to come to Thailand

By Barry Kenyon

August 4, 2020

This week the powerful Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSU) has updated the groups of foreigners able to apply to board a plane to Thailand. Mostly they are categories who have business or work-related documentation or are thought to be affluent, such as those holding a Thailand Elite privilege card.

There are a few eligible groups which can be broadly described as humanitarian gestures, including foreigners with Thai spouses and/or family financial responsibilities and those classed as “residents”, a much misunderstood term which refers exclusively to those who have no end date in their passport when they must leave the country or renew.

A slightly odd grouping refers to medical tourists, usually thought to be magnificent contributors to the Thai treasury. However, the websites of Thai embassies abroad (including the UK) are stating that, to be eligible, you must have a letter from a hospital in your home country stating that you have a life-threatening disease that cannot be treated there. Very odd rule when you think about it.

All these groups can board a plane only when their Thai embassy issues a certificate of entry which requires voluminous paperwork, expensive insurance and 14 days quarantine on arrival at your own expense. The Thai foreign affairs ministry is also stressing that entry approvals will be handled on a case by case basis. Almost all the permitted groups will require a non-immigrant visa.

Meanwhile, Thai border posts remain closed for most human traffic, although labourers from neighboring countries who have registered online are trickling back to jobs in the construction, fishing and retail industries. New arrivals are subject to virus testing and quarantine facilities. Legal workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are governed by the multi-governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), although non-registered or illegal workers are by no means unknown.

In other words, foreigners who want to vacation in Thailand are excluded from the eligible groupings and likely to remain so as the government aims for continued zero community infections. All talk of travel bubbles, for example, appears to have been dropped as second-wave infections cause panic in countries such as Vietnam, China and Australia which were being considered as partner just weeks ago. Thai embassies abroad specifically state that they will not issue visas or certificates of entry for tourism or retirement.

There has been substantial publicity about the plight of mainly European expats with one year retirement visas or extensions of stay who are marooned abroad but want to return to Thailand. We now know for sure that retirees are considered as tourists in this context, unless perhaps they can separately prove a live marriage to a Thai national. Retirees sometimes believe they are Thai residents because they have bought property or believe the Land of Smiles is their home. On the other hand, retirees are seen by the authorities as one-year-at-a-time tourists. Although they are formally required to show an income or have a Thai bank balance of at least 800,000 baht to qualify, the regulation is sometimes circumvented by third party intervention by generous friends or agents.

The reality is that 90 percent of the foreigners who visited Thailand in 2019 would be banned by the CCSU regulations now in force. Whilst the scenario can change at short notice – a vaccine appears or the virus goes into remission worldwide or government policy changes – it’s demonstrably untrue that Thailand is slowly getting back to normal. And you can’t predict the future because, alas, it hasn’t happened yet.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/fo ... and-309946

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