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Are Thai Visas on Arrival Coming Back?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing visas-on-arrival to Thailand.

For those who are unaware, yes there have been a number of restrictions that have been imposed in an Immigration context due to the Government's response to COVID-19. The thing to understand about this video, the purpose of this video is to talk about visas-on-arrival; I am not talking about Visa Exemptions. As noted in a video we made prior to this one, the Thai Visa Exemption scheme is back. It is possible to enter Thailand without a Visa if you are from the list of countries that have a bilateral relationship with Thailand that provide exemption status upon arrival. So you are stamped into the country without a Visa but you are granted lawful status as an exemption to visa rules.

There are other countries most notably China and India are the major markets where they deal with this, where it was prior to the COVID-19 situation back in March and the invocation of the Emergency Decree associated therewith, it was possible for folks from countries that did not have a Visa Exemption stamp to be able to enter Thailand via a visa-on-arrival and you literally would arrive in Thailand and there is an Immigration desk. You apply for a Visa upon arriving and you get a Visa inserted into your passport and then you use that visa for lawful status. That was suspended in light of COVID-19 and I have had people asking me "well since the Visa Exemption Stamp is back, are visas-on-arrival back?" Well it is my understanding, currently no and if you think about it from just sort of a practical perspective, I don't think we are going to see visas-on-arrival come back as long as the Emergency Decree is enforced because presently, you have to get a Certificate of Entry to come to Thailand and if you are just going to get a Visa anyway, you might as well process your Visa through a Thai Embassy or Consulate in your jurisdiction. 

The other thing is as a practical matter you would have all these folks lined up in Thailand to get a Visa before arriving. I think that that would kind of conflict with the policies and the protocols that they are trying to lay down in responding to this COVID situation. 

So long story short is it doesn't make a lot of sense practically and moreover, I have kind of questioned whether or not the Exemption scheme is overly pragmatic for most folks because you still have to get a Certificate of Entry to come into Thailand and you have to process that through an Embassy not unlike you would a visa so you might as well just get a visa anyway. I think doubly this can be said for visa-on-arrival. If you are processing a Certificate of Entry you might as well front load the visa process to come in. 

So I think we probably aren't going to see strictly speaking what is called a visa-on-arrival return until the Emergency Decree gets lifted after the Government has decided to stop operating in this response to COVID-19.