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Embassies Won’t Issue Extension Papers for Citizens Stranded in Thailand

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Several embassies in Bangkok on Tuesday said they will not issue any further visa extension letters for their citizens when the overstay amnesty in the coronavirus pandemic expires on July 31.

In an announcement published last week by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, American citizens who are residing in Thailand will have to decide whether to stay or leave the country, since it will no longer provide extension of stay requests for its citizens. The letter is mandatory to most foreigners who wish to extend their stay for another 30 days.

“U.S. citizens have between now and July 31, 2020, to either return to the U.S. or their country of permanent residence, or to obtain the appropriate visa type for a long-term stay in Thailand,” the post said. “The U.S. Embassy is unable to give advice on individual visa issues. Please refer specific visa questions directly to the immigration.”

Immigration spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon on Tuesday said again that another round of amnesty extension is “unlikely.”

He also recommended foreigners whose respective embassies refused to issue the required papers to leave the country before July 31 to avoid being fined or arrested.

“Thailand has shown enough leniency for foreigners,” Col. Phakkhaphong said. “It’s been nearly four months already. If you have a letter, you’re good to stay, but if you can’t get one, then there’s not much we can do.”

The British Embassy in Bangkok said on its website that requests for visa extension letters will not be possible.

Under the immigration’s regulations, foreign tourists and travelers who found themselves stranded in Thailand without relevant visas earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic need the embassy letters if they wish to extend their stay in the Kingdom after the amnesty expires.

The spokesman refused to comment on the motive behind the embassies’ decision to stop providing extension letters.

“It’s up to them and Thailand has nothing to do with it,” Phakkhaphong said. “If a foreign embassy refused to provide the service to its citizens, no one else can. We have done our best to help foreigners.”

The amnesty, approved by the government in April, allowed foreigners whose temporary visas expire between March 26 to July 31 to stay in the country without the need of applying for an extension at immigration offices.

Overstay fines and the 90-day report requirements will resume after July 31 should the government decide not to extend it.


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