Foreign embassies in Thailand including that of the United States are urging their nationals, still in Thailand with an extended tourist visa, to move quickly and obtain a 60-day renewal while avoiding fines. Current regulations are flexible towards applicants but this may change at any moment.
The deadline of October 31st for foreigners staying in Thailand as tourists under the four-time extended amnesty will not be renewed and stragglers will be penalised by a fine of up to ฿500 per day if they don’t get to an Immigration Bureau office by Saturday, October 31st. The good news is that officers can exercise discretion and it is more than likely that an embassy letter will not be required to obtain a 60-day extension on the basis that the visitor cannot leave the kingdom at this time. All visas extensions will be effective from November 1st no matter when applied for.
Even at this late stage, Thailand’s Immigration Bureau is requesting all foreigners in Thailand, still on tourist visas, to come forward by Saturday 31st October to renew their visas if they have not already done so.
The Bureau is reported to be not emphasising the requirement to produce an embassy or consulate letter explaining why the applicant cannot leave Thailand at this time.
New 60 day extensions from November 1st but current flexibility may not be a permanent situation
The US Embassy, among others, is reporting that it has been informed verbally that the 60-day visa extensions being issued from November 1st in respect of all extended visas under the amnesty which expires on Saturday, will be granted without the required letter.
However, sources are making it clear that the current arrangements are arbitrary and subject to change at any time.
Tourists still in Thailand and availing of the amnesty, are advised to renew their visas as quickly as possible.
Enforcement against all delinquent visa holders begins on 1st February 2021 warns police chief including arrests, detention and prosecution
The immigration Bureau Chief, Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang, is warning that his officers will begin tough enforcement of the immigration laws according to the formerly strict criteria applied previously from the end of January 2021 for those with outstanding visas who have failed to renew them by then and which are 90 days out of date.
In the meantime, daily fines will apply to those whose visas are overstayed but who come to renew before this critical period expires.
There are fears among Immigration Bureau officers that a certain proportion of foreigners have chosen to ignore the law and may have even begun to work in Thailand illegally.
The bureau is currently monitoring the names of people who have failed to renew their visas despite several deadlines and who still have not left the kingdom according to official data.
Lieutenant General Sompong made it clear that failure to renew a visa within 90 days will again become a key cut off point landing any such foreigner in hot water as was the situation before the Covid-19 crisis.
Further visa extensions may be possible for compliant visa holders but it depends on the Covid-19 situation
This suggests that further visa extensions may be possible although the situation is dependent on developments regarding Covid-19 and the resumption of even somewhat normal air passenger traffic between Thailand and the rest of the world.
The Interior Minister, on Tuesday, warned that failure to renew already extended tourist visas held by visitors, by Saturday 31st, will result in a fine being imposed thereafter.
The current fine is ฿500 per day up to a maximum of ฿20,000.
The Immigration Bureau boss, Lieutenant General Sompong, has suggested that failure to renew any visa when due within 90 days will see those involved liable to arrest, the maximum fine and prosecution.
This may result in another even heftier fine or jail sentence and eventual deportation from Thailand, provided the offender can pay all fines and fund an approved plane ticket home, while being held in custody.