Thailand Visa Amnesty Confirmed

As first reported exclusively by the Bangkok Herald on Saturday, an extension of Thailand’s visa amnesty has been ordered and will be voted on Monday by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Copies of the unsigned letter promulgated Friday afternoon by the Prime Minister’s Office appeared on the social media feed of well-known blogger Richard Barrow confirming our story from yesterday.

Despite scattered skepticism about Saturday’s story, the extension was not new or even a surprise to any of the hundreds of people at the Immigration Bureau’s Chaeng Wattana headquarters around 7 p.m. Friday night.

An announcement about the extension was made over the office’s loudspeaker system saying Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had approved the letter shown here at 2 p.m. and that the visa amnesty extension would continue through Oct. 31, according to two separate visa agents present.

Both sources noted that everything was unofficial and they they simply expected the letter to be sent to top Immigration officials on Monday.

The CCSA has an English-language media briefing scheduled for noon Monday, probably after it meets in the morning to approve the extension. The Cabinet meets Tuesday to confirm the CCSA decision, meaning the extension could quickly become official and published in the Royal Gazette by Friday.

In the interim, officials at Chaeng Wattana cleared the office Friday after the announcement and sent everyone home on Saturday with no business conducted on the supposed last day of visa amnesty.

There were reports that business continued at Immigration Muang Thong Thani satellite office dedicated to those on tourist visas, visas on arrival and visa-exemption stamps, suggestion that, perhaps, the amnesty would only apply to those with non-immigrant visas.

In the interim, Chaeng Wattana will continue normally tomorrow. Visa agents sent home were assured that there would be no penalty for overstay for any of their clients and that applications would be processed again starting Sept. 28.