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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawCoronavirus Emergency Letters from Embassy for Thai Visa Extension

Coronavirus Emergency Letters from Embassy for Thai Visa Extension

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing an Emergency Letter associated with a Thai Visa Extension.

For those who are unaware, and I suspect that is virtually no one watching this channel, the Coronavirus outbreak also known as COVID-19, has resulted in a lot of disruption of the travel industry. Just a lot of disruption around the world generally and unfortunately it is also taking lives. This is just an unfortunate situation all around. That being stated, there are those who are essentially for lack of better term trapped in Thailand. They were either tourists or they are living here and their visas are going into sort of a state of flux and they need to deal with it. 

In a recent article from Phuket News and that is thephuketnews.com, the article is titled: Phuket Immigration Confirms 500 Baht a Day Overstay Fines are Being Levied.  I am not going to go into that specific issue but further in here they quoted a Deputy Chief Lieutenant Colonel Udom Thongchin  as saying everything is up to the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok." Quoting further: "Lieutenant Colonel Udom urged foreigners needing to stay in Thailand or unable to travel home to obtain a letter from their Embassy requesting the Thai Immigration Bureau to allow them to extend their stay in the country.  If the foreigner cannot obtain such a letter, Phuket Immigration were unable to help him, he said. If a foreigner's permit to stay is about to expire and they cannot get a letter from their Embassy or their Embassy refuses to issue them a letter, we have no regulation that can help them." So that is where it stands with Thai Immigration

So what is this letter? We had a client who needed to get one of these, we are going to redact this and throw this thing up on screen for you. This is a letter from the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy here in Bangkok and I do want to give tip of the hat to the US Embassy staff, the folks over in American Citizen Services were really efficient in getting this letter back out. We explained to them that this needed to be done quickly and we got it back, and I am not kidding on this, we got that back within two hours. In fact it might have even been if I recall correctly within an hour.  So they are on it the folks that are working there. I suspect they are probably working overtime to get American citizens sorted down there.  I think other Embassies are providing similar services. If you are not an American, the same regulations apply to you but how things work over at your Embassy is going to be slightly different. In this situation it is American citizen Services that is assisting with these kind of letters. 

I am just going to go ahead and read this real quick. I am going to paraphrase it somewhat but basically it is addressed to the Thai Immigration Bureau and they basically say "We wish to refer to the unique global transportation restriction caused by the pandemic COVID-19 and its effect on US citizens who arrived in the Royal Kingdom of Thailand as temporary visitors after the outbreak began. In addition, we wish to refer to the global level for health advisory issued by the Department State which advises US citizens to avoid all international travel. The Embassy of the United States requests these special circumstances be considered for US citizens who arrived in Thailand as tourists and have now been advised to either arrange for immediate return to the United States or prepare to remain abroad for an indefinite period. In particular, we respectfully request these circumstances be considered when US citizens in such circumstances apply for temporary extensions of stay from the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police.” So basically it is just a polite request: “Can you please assist our nationals while they are in your country?” and to the best of my knowledge, Immigration is being accommodating to that. These are extenuating circumstances. They are not looking to be unduly difficult.

Now that being stated, if one can't get one of these letters or there are certain circumstances that make these letters not useful for one’s particular circumstances, it may be a good idea to contact a legal professional. The other thing is there may be flocks that simply and I say this with an abundance of caution so let me be clear. It is best to maintain your lawful status in Thailand. That being stated there just may be folks who for whatever reason are just going to fall out of status during this. For those who are unaware of how this is going to work, “Yes you may be stuck with overstay fines; there may be ramifications from this”. We have another video on this channel. It should be coming out shortly specifically on the issue of continuing overstay in Thailand pursuant to this and the fines and stuff associated therewith. Look at the end of the day, it may be just what it is and you have got to deal with that.

However, those who can contact their Embassy and get a letter similar to this or for Americans you are likely to get a letter that is basically Verbatim to what this letter says although issued to that person specifically, I urge them to do that sooner rather than later. I do know the Embassy is starting to get something of a back log to this so the sooner you go ahead and try and get this letter and get your status regularized, it is likely a better option than trying to wait around until the last minute.