Thailand’s Immigration Bureau is preparing relief measures for foreigners remaining in the country on a visa amnesty that could allow them to apply for extensions in-country or an outright third amnesty.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Natapanu Nopakun said Friday another automatic visa extension would be considered by the Cabinet next week. Meanwhile, Reuters quoted immigration Commissioner Sompong Chingduong saying it, instead, would be a grace period.
Songpong told the news agency the grace period would allow visa holders to apply for extensions between Aug. 1 and Sept. 26.
Any change to visa rules would have to be approved by the Cabinet, which meets Tuesday.
The government has twice granted visa amnesty, the latest of which expires July 31. But as the deadline draws closer, panic has spread among foreigners remaining in the country among tourists reluctant to go back to their own countries or by legal expats who need to renew or obtain news visas but are unable to do the normal trips to neighboring countries.
Immigration had hinted loudly – and was backed up by foreign embassies – that no further extension would be forthcoming. But this week’s fiasco in Rayong and Bangkok, as well as a fresh scandal over two flights transiting in Bangkok that carried Covid-19-infected foreigners to China have prompted officials to reconsider.
All inbound flights were halted earlier this week and new restrictions that require even transiting passengers to have coronavirus tests and fit-to-fly documents have made re-entry into Thailand for those doing visa runs even more impractical.