Stranded foreign tourists, either genuinely stuck in Thailand since April 2020, or stuck here by choice, are able stay in Thailand until May 30, according to an order signed by the Immigration Bureau this week. The order empowers local officers to grant a 60 day visa extensions from January 29 up to May 30. 2021 The order coincides with the world’s Covid-19 situation getting worse and more countries sealing up their borders.
The order allows for a further 60 day extension for people on a tourist visa beyond January 29.2021 when the previous order expired.
Immigration officials have explained the reason for the latest extension is the “ongoing pandemic which has seen many European countries close their borders to non-European Union air traffic.”
The UK has also tightened entry procedures with Covid-19 testing and mandatory quarantine, much the same as Thailand now has in place. The US still allows citizens to return but has barred travellers from the UK and Europe for the time being. Australia has a ban on foreign tourism for now although citizens can re-enter Australia under important circumstances (contact your embassy if you need to repatriate at this time).
Local officers in each province can now issue 60 day extensions on expired tourist visas up to March 30, which will make the order valid up to May 30. Thailand’s Immigration Bureau Chief has announced the further visa extension for stranded travellers and tourists because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, both in Thailand and around the world.
If you need to extend your visa, or your visa deadline is approaching, or lapsed, visit your local immigration office and check you options. The previous order authorised immigration officers to grant a 60 day extension at any time from September 29 2020 to the January 29 2021. Last year, as deadlines loomed for the end of visa amnesties for stranded foreign tourists, nearly all who arrived in Thailand before the start of April 2020, the Thai PM and cabinet acceded to last minute reprieves issued, despite warnings from senior Immigration Bureau officials to the contrary.
Before the the last September 29 deadline, the immigration officials and government left it to the very last minute to decide on a further extension to the visa amnesty. A large chunk of foreigners, many long-term expats, left the country as there had been no hint of a further extension to the visa amnesty. At the time the amnesty would allow people who had applied for earlier extensions to stay until October 31, 2020, and others the ability to apply for 60 day extensions.
Adding to the confusion back in September last year were requirements for letters from the applicant’s embassy along with medical certificates, causing confusion and stress for many of the tourists and travellers that wanted to stay in Thailand. Some immigration officers stayed open for extra hours to precess the applications as the deadline loomed, others didn’t.
1,900 THB still needs to be paid for the 50 day extension to tourist visas.
Immigration officials say that there are still 100,000 – 150,000 tourists still stranded and living in Thailand. Before September 29 last year, the officials guessed the number was around 250,000. Earlier, when the first amnesty was applied in April 2020, the figure was estimated to be around 500,000.
For the genuinely stranded tourists and travellers the amnesty has provided a relaxing lifestyle with many heading for the popular tourist zones and taken advantage of the empty beaches, cheap hotels and great weather. If your visa has lapsed you will likely have to pay a fine for overstaying your visa. Visit your nearest immigration office to sort out your individual situation as being caught on an overstayed visa will result in heavy fines, possible deportation, jail or bans from re-entering Thailand in the future.