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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawI'm Stuck in Overstay in Thailand Due to COVID-19: What Do I Do?

I'm Stuck in Overstay in Thailand Due to COVID-19: What Do I Do?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing overstay in Thailand and we are specifically discussing those who have gotten stuck in overstay during this unfortunate state of events we call the COVID-19 outbreak. 

I just wanted to make this video, honestly as a professional courtesy to you folks but that being said under certain circumstances there may be solutions for you but I just wanted to make this video to provide some insight okay. 

So who are we talking about? Well certain folks simply either fell out of status right before the window, the March 26th April 30th window, or the current Thai automatic visa extension program or some people are referring it as the Thai visa waiver or the Thai visa amnesty program depending on who you talk to. 

That being said let's say your Visa expired on the 23rd of March. Well pursuant to the announcement in the regulations promulgated therefrom, you wouldn't fall into the window wherein a Visa Embassy grants you your Visa up until April 30th. So what do you do?  You have fallen into overstay. There are some folks that legitimately tried to get what is called an Embassy letter, tried to get a letter from their Embassy and get that down to Thai Immigration and explain themselves in order to get their status regularized. Under those circumstances, those folks are in overstay. 

Now there are other circumstances where someone can fall into overstay. For example many people are presuming that Non-immigrant status is being granted the same type of privilege under this amnesty or a privilege akin to it. That is not a wise presumption to make.  If you are in Non-immigrant status we are seeing different Immigration Offices taking a different approach to that status. Depending on the office, you may not be considered to fall under the amnesty and in my opinion based on the way we read the announcement, to me it doesn't look like they are covered anyway but I think different Offices are just doing the best that they can. Everybody is trying to get through this as best as they can but I think there is definitely a situation where Non-immigrant status people can fall into overstay especially Non-immigrant multiple-entry visa holders. This is folks with a Non-immigrant multiple-entry Thai Business Visa or a Non-immigrant multiple-entry Thai O Visa. These are issued fairly frequently in the region to those with Work Permits or those who are married to a Thai National depending on the Thai Embassy or the Thai Consulate in question. 

The thing to take away from this particular video, for those folks it is very possible to fall into an overstay because you are only granted a 90-day stamp at entry and if you are unable to extend, you don't have the necessary documentation to extend in B Visa status or O Visa status, it is possible you may fall into overstay based on the way we read the announcement and apparently the way that some other Immigration Officers are reading the announcement, the amnesty doesn't necessarily apply to non-immigrants. So you are in overstay now what do you do? Well I don't have a ton of advice other than to say first of all contact a Legal professional. Try to ascertain where you stand on this. There may be solutions to the issue. Thai Immigration Officers do have discretionary power to possibly grant further lawful status. You may have to pay fines or something, but it is possible. Don't presume it but it is possible. Some folks may want to check with the Immigration Office directly. Some Immigration Offices are really overloaded even with the amnesty because they are still dealing with caseload due to not Immigrant status; often times non-immigrants who wouldn't otherwise be dealing with an extension because they were dealing with a multi-entry visa. So certain offices have a higher case load. In those circumstances it may not even possible to talk to somebody and if that is the case you may need to contact a legal professional. 

Another thing to be aware of and I am very hesitant to provide any type of ongoing advice to somebody in overstay, but these are extenuating circumstances and I do understand that people did not intend to get into that status. It is just the events transpired to where those folks inadvertently and through no fault of their own, ended up being in overstay in Thailand. One of the big ones is it is a good idea to lay low.  I mean I don't mean to sound like somebody out of the 1930s gangster movie from America but laying low right now would probably be a good idea and for lack of a better term and not to make light of this, “wait till it blows over”. Wait till you can get out of Thailand get back to your home country if you are being precluded from going back to your own country that is even worse. Wait until you can make arrangements to get out. Understand the implications of detention. If you are arrested in Thailand or let's say you are confronted by a law enforcement officer in Thailand or you are detained in Thailand, you can be detained for being on Overstay and in fact it is incumbent on Thai Immigration Police as well as Thai police generally if they find out someone is in overstay they are supposed to detain them and arrangements need to be made for them to be deported. Now here is the rub. Deportation as of the time of this video during this COVID-19 outbreak, is not going to be the easiest thing to arrange. Over the years I have dealt with a number of what we call expedited deportation matters from Thai Immigration here in the Kingdom, and this usually involves people who are on prolonged overstay and we needed to go ahead and make arrangements for them to get out. Oftentimes this was almost sort of a logistical matter or an administrative matter where we were simply just making necessary arrangements for them to process out their paperwork and most importantly essentially be walked on to their flight to their home country by Thai Immigration Police personnel and this can be a rather resource-intensive endeavored hence the reason we have often been retained to assist folds in expediting their deportation. But understand this, expediting deportations is going to be a tall order in the era of COVID-19 or Coronavirus and we are going to be dealing with this moving forward. Even if Thailand lifts the lockdown, neighboring countries may not and there may be a situation where someone's home country won't even let them back in due the quarantine measures. So for that reason, making arrangements to expedite a deportation may not be particularly easy and the reason I bring this up is if you are stuck in overstay, I feel for you, I sympathize and understand, one of your best courses of action is going to be laying low until you can make your own arrangements to leave Thailand voluntarily. That may not be necessary the easiest thing in the world to do and understand once you leave, as long as you are leaving Thailand and they discover the overstay when you are passing out of the country through Immigration, it is a matter of paying a fine. But if you are in overstay and you are caught in overstay here in Thailand that can have tremendous negative ramifications, as I said detention possibly prolonged detention due to an inability to be deported or to facilitate deportation and that should be avoided at all costs.