Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

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Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

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Seems like the visa amnesty is back, at least for the month of October. I think it's the right move, but it should have been done before all the chaos at immigration. I wonder how many foreigners who involuntarily left Thailand will feel once they realize they probably could have stayed if they wanted to. Now they can't come back. At least those still in Thailand get another month to sort out whatever they have to do.

Meanwhile, I am still going to have my passport with me at all times while the brouhaha is settling down. Actually, since September 26 I have not seen even one police officer anywhere other than at an occasional accident scene. If they have been checking farang to see if they hold a valid visa, I have not heard about it and I have seen no reports of anyone being fined, arrested, or even being checked.

I also like the part of the article where the goverment estimates how many tourists will be coming. Those numbers are based on what? Where are those figures coming from?
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Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

September 28, 2020

Thailand on Monday extended a grace period for visa renewals for foreigners stranded in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic until the end of October, as travel restrictions remain in place and new infections climb globally.

The extension will allow foreigners to remain in Thailand until Oct 31, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's coronavirus taskforce, told Reuters.

The matter is subject to cabinet approval on Tuesday.

Thailand halted commercial flights in April and banned foreign visitors in an effort to keep the coronavirus at bay, with repatriation flights the only means of leaving the country.

In July, authorities granted automatic visa extensions from late March to Sept 26 to all foreigners.

After October, a new immigration regulation will allow foreigners to apply for 60-day extensions to remain in the country if they are unable to leave due to limited flights or other issues, Pornchai Kuntee, deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, told Reuters.

Previously, extensions required documentation from their respective embassies and were limited to 30 days.

Authorities on Monday also extended an emergency decree until the end of October.

Thailand has kept the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at a low 3,545 with 59 fatalities.

The government this month approved visas of up to 270 days for long-stay tourists and is preparing to reopen to some foreign visitors from next month, although the move could be delayed.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects foreign tourist numbers to plunge to 6.7 million this year from 39.8 million in 2019 before recovering to 20.5 million next year.

This compares with the central bank’s estimate for 9 million tourists in 2021.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... x#cxrecs_s

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Re: Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

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Visa amnesty extension to October 31 created by confusion about embassy letters of support

By Barry Kenyon

September 29, 2020

The Thai immigration authorities have confirmed that the visa amnesty, scheduled to finish on September 26, has been extended to October 31. This means that anyone whose visa or permission to stay expired from March 26 onwards – excluding one year renewals such as retirement which were never subject to amnesty – will not face overstay penalties until the new terminal date has passed. Those whose permission ran out before March 26 could not benefit from amnesty and, if still here, now face serious overstay problems when discovered.

The amnesty news has been greeted with a combination of relief and anger in equal measure. Many temporary visitors had not succeeded in obtaining the requisite paperwork for a further extension, often claiming that their embassy had refused or delayed a letter seeking more time from the immigration bureau. They are breathing a big sigh of relief that they will not now be subject to overstay penalties for about another five weeks at least. There are thought to be at least 50,000 people in this situation.

But some visa holders who did succeed in obtaining an extension by showing paperwork prior to the latest announcement are angry that they unnecessarily paid a fee. The amount varied from a cheap 1,900 baht (for a further 30 days) based on an embassy letter or proof of serious illness from a hospital, but a much bigger price for a three months’ extension reputedly arranged by some visa agents. Obviously the latter can’t get their money back although they are now safe until just before Christmas. The sums are said to vary between 20,000 and 70,000 baht, dependent on the agent involved.

There are several reasons for the last minute change of heart by immigration authorities and by the government. Although there are now more long distance flights from Thailand than previously, cancellations and diversions still persist on a grand scale. Some destinations, for example parts of Europe, South America and the African continent, are still virtually impossible to reach. Many older travellers had pleaded with immigration officers not to force them out as they faced journeys of up to 48 hours or longer, with long waits at intermediate airports, and were fearful of exhaustion and other health problems in such a dismal scenario.

Other foreigners, often with passports from the UK, mainland Europe, Australia and the United States, have long-stay visas in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Malaysia but are unable to return by air because of strict Covid-19 immigration policies. Also, these countries all have closed borders with Thailand making a land crossing impossible. Many of these foreign nationals had stated that certain Bangkok embassies had declined to issue them with a letter of support even though no flights could accommodate them. It is the unpredictability of foreign embassies in issuing letters to their nationals that lies at the heart of why an amnesty extension to the end of October has now been conceded.

The immigration bureau has asked that short-term amnesty beneficiaries who think they may need to stay beyond the new terminal date of October 31 contact them without delay at the beginning of the month. This is believed necessary to enable the authorities to make an informed decision about the size of any recurring problems which may persist during November and December. The pesky virus certainly knows how to create pandemonium in the visa world.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/vi ... ort-328083

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Re: Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

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Visa “amnesty” period officially approved to be extended in Thailand by Thai Cabinet, further details released

By Adam Judd

29 September 2020

At a brief press conference this afternoon in Bangkok Traisuree Taisaranakul, the Thai Government spokeswoman, acknowledged that the amnesty period for foreign nationals in the country had been approved and extended until the end of October.

Additionally, at an earlier press conference by Immigration Bureau Deputy Commissioner Maj Gen Pornchai Kuntee, it was stated that those who had already paid 1,900 baht for an extension to the end of October would be allowed to stay to the end of November. However, they will need to visit Immigration for the updated stamp.

Foreigners who plan to stay in Thailand past October 31 will need to visit Immigration before that date, both Traisuree and Pornchai stated. According to Royal Thai Immigration, it appears that Immigration will be moving to a “case by case” system vs. a blanket amnesty as he stated that in the future those on amnesty will be granted sixty day stays if they cannot return home and they “may” not need a letter from their embassy. He also stated that the process to stay overall would not require a significant number of trips or documents and the entire process was being improved.

All of this comes at the behest of both the Thai Prime Minister, who stated that due to the situation world wide we should be gracious hosts and allow those in relatively Covid-free Thailand to stay as well as the Thai Chamber of Commerce who has repeatedly asked to let those on amnesty and with financial support stay and help the economy.

The visa amnesty has been in place since late March of this year and allowed tourists in the country to stay without having to go home. Although it has been over six months some countries still restrict flights and air travel has yet to return completely to normal. Additionally, some tourists have stated they prefer to stay in Thailand, which officially has no recent locally spread cases of Covid-19, then return to their own countries where the pandemic may still be raging.

This comes after several weeks of warnings from Thai Immigration about “strict” enforcement of the amnesty after the expiration date and warnings from some divisions on potential arrests and deportations. The stance now appears to have considerably softened, notes The Pattaya News. International borders remain closed to general tourism for the immediate future.

https://thepattayanews.com/2020/09/29/v ... -released/

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Re: Thailand extends grace period for stranded foreigners

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If you are in Thailand on the current visa amnesty, don't forget to either renew by October 30 or leave Thailand. Technically you have until October 31, but October 31 is Saturday and immigration will be closed.

No word yet on whether the visa amnesty will be extended through November, but the news is reporting that those who do not renew in time or overstay will be subject to fines, jail, and deportation.

The trend has been to make that threat and then at the last minute extend the amnesty. However, I would not count on that if I were you.

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