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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawIs Thai Immigration Overwhelmed Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Is Thai Immigration Overwhelmed Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Immigration in the context of this Coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19.  

It recently came to my attention, this photo. We are going to go ahead and put this photo up on the screen here. It is a photo of Thai immigration out at Chaengwattana this morning. As you can see is pretty darn crowded. There has been a lot of buzz on social media about “there doesn't appear to be a lot of social distancing going on in this photo” and I am not going to get into all of that but the fact of it is Thai immigration is really overwhelmed and this situation has put a lot of strain on the system; strain that it is not really used to dealing with. For those who are going to get cynical about this overall situation or Thai Immigration's response to it, let's be clear. At any given time, there are a lot of foreigners in Thailand but not many of them are going to be using for example Chaengwattana or Phuket immigration or Pattaya Immigration or Chiang Mai Immigration or any Immigration Office for that matter with the frequency and at the volume that the Immigration Offices are using it right now. 

For example, folks who got sort of trapped in Thailand due to the border closures, due to all of the airlines not taking a lot more flights, a lot of flight cancellations have happened; those folks who are in tourist status never intended to go to Thai Immigration. Their intention was to come to Thailand, stay for a few weeks and return home, but now they are stuck here for various reasons. At the same time there are a lot of folks that are  in Non-immigrant status but they are using a multiple-entry Non-immigrant Visa and their intention was just to use border runs or visa runs to maintain their status; they weren't planning to go to Thai Immigration. On top of it they are dealing with their standard extension folks and on top of it they are also dealing with people who come in with a 30-day Thai Visa exemption or with a visa-on-arrival who were never intending to use a Thai Immigration Office; they were intending to use that status for the duration and then leave. None of those folks were intending to use the Thai Immigration facilities here in the country and now all those folks are, all at once and it is having a tremendous impact on those facilities just generally. I do have to say and I have been called an apologist more than once on this channel, at least in the comments and in various other comments on social media regarding what I have to say about these folks, but look they are working hard. There is a lot going on here and those folks are pretty swamped so my hat is off to them. They are doing what they have to do to keep this thing moving as best they can and unfortunately due to the volume of this stuff, as best they can, may not be the most optimal processing that we have ever seen, but they are doing their best. 

So for those who are interested, I have gotten a lot of correspondence from people that are not in an imminent threat of having their visa situation be in overstay; basically folks who aren't going to reach overstay for weeks or even or even multi-days ahead.  Now if you are going to go and overstay the day after tomorrow for example you probably need to be getting down Immigration but if you are not going to go into overstay for 3 weeks maybe hang back. Don't go in too early. Avoid the crowds. The regulations on this remain to be seen. The emergency decree has given the government broad powers to unilaterally make policy decisions and change regulations at least temporarily during this crisis so we could see changes at the drop of a hat with respect to Immigration. For this reason I think it is wise for people who are who are not in an immediate threat of falling into overstay, take a minute, maybe ascertain your situation, maybe contact a legal professional whatever rather than sort of swamping the system even more than it is already overwhelmed.