Stranded foreigners without valid visas in Thailand’s neighboring countries

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Stranded foreigners without valid visas in Thailand’s neighboring countries

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Updates on stranded foreigners without valid visas in Thailand’s neighboring countries

By Barry Kenyon

July 15, 2020

Perhaps 400,000 foreigners of all nationalities with temporary or expired visas in Thailand are holding their collective breath about the future of the Thai amnesty scheduled to expire on July 31. At press time (July 15), it’s still guesswork although some visa flexibility is expected, or we would surely have heard by now if the guillotine chop was already on its way down the chute. Here are the updates for stranded foreigners in the countries with which Thailand shares a land border, all of which are closed to non-nationals.

Cambodia

Last April, the government granted automatic and free extension of tourist visas to all stranded foreigners “until they are able to depart Cambodia”. This discretion is still in force, although international flights from Phnom Penh are picking up in frequency. The US embassy there is currently advising its nationals to leave on commercial flights “whilst they are still available”. Over a hundred British nationals hired a private jet to take them back to UK. Their Facebook page “Stuck in Cambodia” said they had resorted to self-help as the British embassy had only offered their best wishes. Sources in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap say that most non-resident Europeans have now left the country, whilst Cambodia has very few guest workers from neighboring countries. The overall numbers still requiring amnesty is thought to be fewer than 5,000 of all nationalities.

Laos

A travel advisory issued by the government in Vientiane in late March stated that stranded foreigners could overstay their tourist visas but must report to the immigration authorities to do so. At the time, some foreigners claimed they had to pay a fee, averaging US$30, for another month and were told to come back, if necessary, several weeks later. The foreign affairs ministry last month issued an order that foreigners still wishing to remain in Laos, but without a long-term visa or permanent resident status, now needed a letter from their respective embassy setting out the reasons for the delay and explaining the plan of action. Two French nationals who left the country by air in early July said they were not charged for overstay because they had succeeded in obtaining a consular letter. Overall numbers still requiring amnesty were estimated by an embassy official to be “not significant”.

Myanmar

The country is still in travel lockdown with all commercial flights banned until July 31 and possibly later. Foreigners stranded there must seek a letter from their embassy if they have a tourist visa. Business visas, normally valid for a period of 70 days, can be extended with appropriate documents such as employer certification, marriage certificate to a Myanmar national or birth certificate of a child born in wedlock. There is no official estimate of the numbers still stranded in the country, but virtually all tourists will have left before the well-publicized shutdown of Myanmar’s airports nearly four months ago.

Malaysia

On at least two occasions, the government has stated that no action will be taken against foreigners who overstayed their visas through no fault of their own. But they now need a supporting letter from their embassy unless they are nationals of a neighboring country. In July 2,000 stranded and unemployed Vietnamese, hungry and penniless, were sent home on a charter flight paid for by their home government. Very few Europeans or Americans are thought to be still stranded although the size and diversity of the country makes it difficult to be sure. Many long-term foreigners living there have a special 10 year visa. It is delightfully called My Second Home.

https://www.pattayamail.com/news/update ... ies-307509

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Re: Stranded foreigners without valid visas in Thailand’s neighboring countries

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Beaurocracy gone mad...except perhaps for Malaysia

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Re: Stranded foreigners without valid visas in Thailand’s neighboring countries

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Embassies Won’t Issue Extension Papers for Citizens Stranded in Thailand

By Khaosod English

July 15, 2020

BANGKOK — Several embassies in Bangkok on Tuesday said they will not issue any further visa extension letters for their citizens when the overstay amnesty in the coronavirus pandemic expires on July 31.

In an announcement published last week by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, American citizens who are residing in Thailand will have to decide whether to stay or leave the country, since it will no longer provide extension of stay requests for its citizens. The letter is mandatory to most foreigners who wish to extend their stay for another 30 days.

“U.S. citizens have between now and July 31, 2020 to either return to the U.S. or their country of permanent residence, or to obtain the appropriate visa type for a long-term stay in Thailand,” the post said. “The U.S. Embassy is unable to give advice on individual visa issues. Please refer specific visa questions directly to the immigration.”

Immigration spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon on Tuesday said again that another round of amnesty extension is “unlikely.”

He also recommended foreigners whose respective embassies refused to issue the required papers to leave the country before July 31 to avoid being fined or arrested.

“Thailand has shown enough leniency for foreigners,” Col. Phakkhaphong said. “It’s been nearly four months already. If you have a letter, you’re good to stay, but if you can’t get one, then there’s not much we can do.”

The British Embassy in Bangkok said on its website that requests for visa extension letters will not be possible.

Under the immigration’s regulations, foreign tourists and travelers who found themselves stranded in Thailand without relevant visas earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic need the embassy letters if they wish to extend their stay in the Kingdom after the amnesty expires.

The spokesman refused to comment on the motive behind the embassies’ decision to stop providing extension letters.

“It’s up to them and Thailand has nothing to do with it,” Phakkhaphong said. “If a foreign embassy refused to provide the service to its citizens, no one else can. We have done our best to help foreigners.”

The amnesty, approved by the government in April, allowed foreigners whose temporary visas expire between March 26 to July 31 to stay in the country without the need of applying for an extension at immigration offices.

Overstay fines and the 90-day report requirements will resume after July 31 should the government decide not to extend it.

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

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