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Immigration Weighs 2nd Extension of Thai Visas

Clock ticking for anxious foreigners as July 31 end of visa amnesty nears

Thailand Immigration Bureau Chang Wattana Bangkok
Massive lines could soon return to the Immigration Bureau's headquarters in Chang Wattana in Nonthaburi if another automatic visa extension is not granted.

UPDATE: Thai Immigration Re-Opening Muang Thong Thani Overflow Facility

The Immigration Bureau is considering again extending visas for thousands of foreigners trapped in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourists and especially expats with expired visas have been fretting over the end of the current visa amnesty on July 31, uncertain where they can go get a new visa, if they can even return or if this is the end of their lives in the Land of Smiles.

While Thailand technically has reopened its borders, only married expats or permanent residents stranded abroad, internatonal students and teachers, government invitees and businesspeople from five Asian nations to enter with total entries capped at 200 per day.

In addition, popular visa-run countries such as Myanmar remain closed while Cambodia is requiring tourists to pay more than US$3,000 in deposits and fees to enter. Even if they can get in, no Southeast Asia country is on Thailand’s “safe” list.

The alternative for many, then, would be to pack up and move back home. But, even then, it could be difficult as only repatriation flights are landing at Thai airports.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Natapanu Nopakun said Friday at the government’s daily coronavirus crisis that the topic of another automatic extension is being discussed.

All visas of all types were automatically extended for three months ending on July 31. While foreigners cannot be prosecuted for overstaying, Immigration will not grant any extension of stays on a visa if it has expired.

That means, if another automatic extension is not granted lasting until regular fights resume, affected foreigners will have to leave the country by Aug. 7 or face overstay fines and jail time.

Natapanu asked nervous farangs to be patient, saying the Immigration Bureau will announce its decision soon.