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ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryThailand Corporate LawCOVID-19 Thai Visa Amnesty: Business Visa and Work Permit Issues

COVID-19 Thai Visa Amnesty: Business Visa and Work Permit Issues

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing yet again the COVID-19 Visa amnesty or Visa waiver program, also called the automatic Thai visa extension which has been promulgated by Thai Immigration in order to alleviate the issues associated with dealing with Visa extensions here in Thailand for those who have been stranded due to COVID-19. 

Before we start off, I am going to go ahead and throw something up on screen here so you can see it. It is an announcement from Thai Immigration. We will go ahead and put this on screen. Quoting directly: "The second automatic visa extension for foreigners: no need to extend Visa, no need to do 90 day reporting, no need to pay fees, no need to submit documents. Everything will be done automatically.                                Foreigners whose visas have expired since 26th March, 2020 will be permitted to stay until 31st July, 2020 without having to apply for an extension".

A couple of things here.  As we have noted in previous videos, those whose tourist visas expired before or it might not necessarily been a tourist visa could have been a Non-immigrant Visa, visas expired before the 26th of March and they used an Embassy letter to bridge their stay if you will and get them into the amnesty window from 26th of March onward, those folks may have to take further steps in order to maintain lawful status here in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, those who are in Non-immigrant Visa status are not necessarily covered by this decree, by this new policy. Again as I have gone into great detail in other videos, the reason for enacting this was essentially stranded tourists. People here on tourists visas, visas-on-arrival, 30-day exemption stamps or longer; exemption Stamps depending on the bilateral relationship with Thailand and the other person's country, and all of those people were definitely covered if they "naturally" expired during the amnesty window. Folks who did not naturally expire do not necessarily fall under the same provisions. So again they used Embassy letter, they may have to do things to rectify their position. For those who want to look more at that just go to the search function of our channel and type in Embassy letter. You will see there are two videos we have done on Embassy letters explaining that in great detail and you can get that information there.

What we are talking about here, we have already discussed Non-immigrant visas, they are not necessarily covered by this. Different immigration offices take different positions on it but we have talked to our contacts directly and they have said, “Non-immigrant visas were not the reason for this policy and they do not appear to be covered by this”. They also we are clearing telling his “hey we are all dealing with this day to day”. This is not well settled policy okay. This only came about two weeks before making this video. We have been dealing with this very much on the fly as has Thai Immigration and I do want to say kudos to them. They are dealing with this in a fast-paced way and it is a difficult situation. They are trying to make the best policies they can to provide accommodation for folks who have been placed in a bad position. The thrust of this video, sort of in follow up to the non-immigrant Visa generally, is also the issue of a Work Permit. So I am talking about this specifically in the context of a Business Visa although it could be in the context of a Thai O Marriage Visa where that Marriage Visa or that O Visa is being used as a platform for a Work Permit. What I am talking about here is, let's say that you do get lucky and an Immigration Office basically say yeah you fall under the extension even though you are in Thailand on a multiple-entry non-immigrant Visa be it an O Visa or a B Visa, sure you fall into the amnesty. Even if the amnesty applies to you, you are not going to be accrued overstay fines but if you are in a B visa and specifically a multiple entry Non-immigrant B Visa, you may have problems down the line dealing with the Labour Department because the Labour Department will very likely consider you to have fallen out of status during your stay in Thailand and arguably nullifying your work authorization when that happened. So there may not be immigration consequences for you but there could be and I think there very likely would be consequences with respect to the Ministry of Labour and extension of your work permit down the road. 

So the thing to take away from this video if you are in Thailand on a Non-immigrant multi-entry business Visa or a Non-immigrant multi-entry O Visa that is being used as a platform for a Work Permit, specifically of either of these are being used in conjunction with a Work Permit, you need to be very careful about trying to utilize this amnesty because notwithstanding the fact that Immigration may consider you to not be in violation of relevant Immigration Law, the Labour Ministry down the road may say “Yeah, you were in amnesty but you were no longer in Business Visa status or O Visa status”. That status is the platform on which your Work Permit relies. If that falls away then so too does your work authorization. So complicated set of circumstances. 

The thing to take away from this video if you are falling into a situation where your extension is coming up or your multi-entry Visa stamp is coming to an end, it is probably not the best idea to think you are going to just rely on the amnesty for a bunch of different reasons on the Immigration side but on the Labour side, it is not a good idea because you could see a situation where Labour revokes a Work Permit down the road or considers you to have ceased to have been in work authorization from the moment your Visa extinguished and that is not a situation you want to be in. in either case. So, it is not a terrible idea to get in contact with your Immigration Office or contact a legal professional in order to rectify that situation so as to forestall problems down the road.