Visa Shuffle: Foreigners without visas face 90-day limit

As part of a reported attempt to crackdown on foreigners working illegally (without a work visa) in Thailand, the Immigration Bureau will impose a 3-time limit of on-arrival visas (also known as the visa-waiver programme).

Previously, most foreigners could stay in Thailand indefinitely by reapplying for an on-arrival visa at any immigration point every 30 days (hence, the “visa-run” or “visa hop”).

Staring 1 October, tourists from visa-waiver countries can enter Thailand without a visa and stay for up to 30 days, but re-entry will only be renewed twice. This will effectively limit the number of days to 90 that a foreigner can stay inside Thailand without a formal visa (45 in the case of countries where the visa waiver programme only allows for a 15-day on arrival visa as opposed to a 30-day one).

Once the 3-time limit has been reached, the person will reportedly be banned from Thailand for 6 weeks.

This seems to be contradictory to Thailand’s effort to become the regional transit hub once Suvarnabhumi opens: tourists who wish to use Bangkok as an East Asia transit point will only be allowed to pass through the country three times unless they apply for a formal visa. Aside from casting out undesireables and those avoiding taxes, it will cause problems with many others, including those who work for employers who typically do not issue work visas. It is unclear whether application processes for 3-month tourist visas will become more stringent.

Furthermore, the announcement seems to have come hastily (just 3 weeks before implementation) and before information was actually available; most immigration officials, many of whom are new and untrained, are unable to answer queries. However, a nationwide meeting of officials at Bangkok Immigration Headquarters on 15 September should help clear things up.

3 Comments so far

  1. gnarlykitty (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

    This is just plain dumb. Seriously. They’re trying to open up the country and they go and do things like this. Foreigners who have really been living here in Thailand have to all of a sudden pack up their things and head “home”.

    It’s good in a way that it helps getting rid of the “undesirables”..

  2. ems (unregistered) on September 16th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    Ohhh how sad??????????????????
    what can i do? i need to go back home but my money is not enough for my air ticket.

  3. Dan (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 2:08 am

    I have to agree with Gnarly, two sides to this one.

    Foreigners who come, work illeagly, and take trips to the border for a one hour crossing and “renewal” are the only people affected. Tourist still have their full tourist visa to come and see the country, and even extend it! Shouldn’t a couple months be enough time to look around as a tourist? After that get a job legally, start school, or request another type of visa to stay. Are you really just a tourist after 2 months? No other countries allow people to come and go as they please without holding a legit job.

    The downside is that these type foreigners keep the ecomonmy going… the people who don’t happen to have legit jobs are often the highest spenders it seems.


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