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Thai Immigration Policy on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the Coronavirus and specifically we are discussing it in the context of Thai Immigration

The Coronavirus' other name as it has been being called; I guess it is a technical name, is COVID-19. So what are we talking about with respect to Coronavirus specifically today? Let me be clear I am hoping that this video goes up hopefully within a fairly short time frame of it being actually filmed because I want this to be as on point is it can be.

I have gotten a lot of emails, I have got a lot of communication, I have even had some people say to me in person "Can you tell us something about the Coronavirus with respect to what is going on with respect to Thai Immigration?"  as there has been a lot of news on this topic. One of the big things that we have seen specially in this past couple of days in fact is the sort of back and forth from Thai Immigration as to exactly what was going on with respect to suspension of visa-on-arrival privileges for certain nationalities as well as suspension of visa exemption stamp privileges for nationals of certain countries. So let's just dig into that. 

We are going to go to Reuters, that is reuters.com  Quoting directly from an article titled: Thailand Restricts Visitor Visas to Limit Virus Spread. Again, that is reuters.com. Quoting directly: "Visa-on-arrival will be suspended for Nationals of all 19 countries and territories previously eligible including Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu according to a list provided to reporters by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. Quoting further: "Visa exemptions will be cancelled for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong, Anupong said." and that is referring to the Minister of the Interior Anupong Paochinda. 

Now let us get into something real quick here.  There is a difference between visa-on-arrival and visa exemption although as a practical matter it is not going to make a lot of difference for the folks from these nationalities. To be clear as to what it is: Visa exemption stamps, for example Americans folks with an American passport who get on a plane and come to Thailand, if they have no visa in their passport, Thai Immigration can simply stamp them in with a 30-day stamp upon entry; that is what is called a Visa Exemption Stamp. Meanwhile, countries that do not have that privilege, they may have a bilateral or some other type of agreement with Thailand wherein Thailand grants visas-on-arrival for those nationals.  So those folks can actually get on a plane without a visa and once they arrive in Thailand they actually apply for a visa -on-arrival and so long as that visa-on-arrival is issued those folks can get in. With this new policy coming down the pike, that is going to have a major impact on a lot of folks' travel plans for coming into Thailand most notably some major markets like China and India are going to be impacted directly by this; not least of which Taiwan and South Korea as well are going to be impacted by this significantly. 

Throughout this past week we have seen back and forth as this was originally announced, then it seemed to be put on hold, and now it seems to be back on again. Let me just quote directly from an article in the Nation, that is nationthailand.com.  The article is titled: Visas on Arrival Being Denied for 18 Nationalities. Quoting directly: "However Department of Consular Affairs Director-general Chatree Atchananan said earlier today there would be no official announcement of the measure until the Cabinet considers it on March 17th before Anupong later came out to confirm that the measure would be implemented tomorrow, (this was written a while back) March 13".  So apparently, it was going to be implemented then they backtracked and then they have gone ahead now and they have implemented it. So it is my understanding as of the time of this video, that Visa-on-arrival privileges and Visa exemption privileges are going to be suspended for folks from those nationalities. 

Now exactly how this continues remains to be seen. We are going to do some other videos more specifically for Visa runners, border runners, folks who have Multiple-entry Thai Visas; that is multiple-entry Non-immigrant visa for Thailand, we are going to do some stuff specifically on that. This video specifically pertains to those who just get on a plane and come to Thailand. 

In the coming days, we are going to have some videos come up that will discuss specifically folks who are coming here for example and needing to do a Visa Run, needing to do a border run, needing to do an air border run, or a water border run for example. We will get into some of that and we are also going to be talking about those folks who are going to be dealing with "visa runs" associated with their multiple-entry one-year Visas. So there is a lot going on. I suspect we are going to have a lot of activity in the Immigration world here in Thailand over the course of the next 10 - 14 days at least; possibly 4-6 weeks and I think like everyone else, I am truly hoping that this pandemic, which it has been labeled now officially by World Health Organization, that this pandemic abates in the relatively near future so we don't have to be looking at this much out past 6 weeks from now.