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Tourists to get unlimited 30-day extensions to stay

Foreigners staying in the country on any form of tourist visa will be allowed to repeatedly renew their permits to stay with immigration for periods of 30 days at a time after the ‘visa amnesty’ ends on Sept 26, the Immigration Bureau announced this week.

Immigration Deputy Commander Maj Gen Pornchai Khuntee announced the news at a press conference held at the Immigration Bureau headquarters in Bangkok, saying that the Cabinet had approved the move.

Gen Pornchai explained that any tourists unable to return home after Sept 26 due to illness are to apply for an extension to stay by applying at an Immigration office and presenting a medical certificate to prove they are unfit to fly.

However, those who are unable to return home due to lack of flights or other circumstances in their home country must present a

letter from their home country’s embassy or consulate in Thailand requesting that the foreign be allowed to continue to temporarily stay in the Kingdom, Gen Pornchai added.

Foreigners will be granted 30 days’ stay each time, Gen Pornchai said.

However, if the tourist’s circumstances have not changed within the 30 days, they can apply for another 30 days’ stay, he added.

Gen Pornchai did not confirm whether a new letter from the foreigner’s embassy will be required with every application for an extension to stay from the same foreigner.

Gen Pornchai did warn that the visa amnesty for all visa types will end on Sept 6.

“All long-term visa holders whose permits to stay expired after Mar 26 also must submit an application for an extension to stay from now until September 26, 2020,” he said.

“Please contact a local immigration office as soon as possible, in order to avoid congestion [at imigration offices] in the last few days,” Gen Pornchai urged.

Gen Pornchai made no comments about special provisions being made for expats living and working in the country.

Many expats on long-term permits-to-stay have families in Thailand, but due to the economic crisis brought on by the government’s policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not able to satisfy the Immigration Bureau’s income requirement in ordered to be approved a one-year permit-to-stay.

At this stage, such long-term expats are set to face being granted only a maximum of 90 day’s stay, after which they will be forced to leave the country.

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin on Tuesday (Sept 1) urged any foreigners caught out by the income requirement to delay filing their applications to renew their one-year permits-to-stay until Sept 15.

Lt Col Udom said he expected Immigration Bureau superiors in Bangkok to make an announcement by then. – Phuket News

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