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Thai Immigration to Extend Expired Visas, Allow Conversions During Amnesty

Amnesty details released Friday confirm tourists must leave by Sept. 26

Thai Expired Visas Can Be Extended During Amnesty

Thailand’s Immigration Bureau next month will begin extending some long-term visas or even convert visa types according to details about the just-approved amnesty extension released Friday.

Immigration lawyers said the infographic published by the bureau Friday afternoon confirms their interpretation of Cabinet meeting minutes released after Thailand’s visa amnesty was extended until Sept. 26 on Tuesday.

Holders of long-term visas that have expired or cannot normally be renewed inside Thailand can apply for an extension that would take effect on Sept. 27 “in accordance with a reason for necessity”.

The extension – and its length – would be made on made on a case-by-case basis.

Two unrelated sources said Thursday that, in some cases, immigration also will allow foreigners to switch visa types, such as from tourist to education visa, or even renew non-immigrant business visas, again on a case-by-case basis.

Approval would be based on such conditions as when a yearly visa holder cannot obtain a new one from a neighboring country where borders remain closed.

Benjamin Hart, managing director for Integrity Legal in Bangkok, warned visa holders to act quickly, as Immigration likely will set a cutoff date after which the bureau will no longer accept extension applications.

“There is a situation wherein immigration is empowered to provide further status and also empowered to set a deadline within this period when they will no longer be allowing further status,” he said.

“The way they’re saying it is that they have the ability to grant extensions … but also saying ‘hey, get into some type of legal status sooner rather than later,’” Hart said, adding he believes the government has made it clear “there will be no further amnesty”.

What also became apparent Friday is that the gig is finally up for tourists. Those on tourist visas, visas-on-arrival and passport “visa exemption” stamps have until Sept. 26 to leave the country, Immigration’s infographic said.

The only exceptions will be in cases of illness – certified by a doctor – or for those possessing a letter from their embassy stating that travel back to their home country is not possible.

Those letters are not likely to be forthcoming, as numerous embassies announced this week and last that they would no longer issue extension letters, saying there now were ample flights to return home.

Friday’s details, however, seemed to contradict the Cabinet minutes in one area: 90-day reports. A government spokesman originally stated that long-term visa holders would not need to notification of residence until Sept. 26.

Friday’s notice now says anyone that should have made a 90-day report between between March 26 and July 31 must file one before the end of August.