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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawThai Visa Overstay, Detention, and Deportation Exacerbated by COVID-19

Thai Visa Overstay, Detention, and Deportation Exacerbated by COVID-19

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing overstay, deportation and detention and how COVID-19 can have a dramatically negative impact on folks that may already have a problem with those issues here in Thailand. 

So, what are we talking about specifically? Well I have seen people who have been falling into overstay really not of their own volition, so they have just ended up in a position where it has been impossible for them to get an extension. They ended up in an overstay prior to the date of March 26th which is proving to be a problem. I am making a video contemporaneously with this one that specifically goes into issues for those who are in overstay and just what to do about it because unfortunately and I do feel for you folks, you are in a precarious set of circumstances and you just need to deal with it as best you can. I am talking about this in the specific set of circumstances of somebody being able to avoid it if you can because detention and deportation issues are really going to be exacerbated. They are really going to be made worse by this COVID-19 outbreak and let me explain why.

For those who are unaware, if you get detained in Thailand and you are on overstay, once detained generally speaking, and this is pretty much every case I have ever seen; now I have seen some exceptions where have been released in the custody of an Immigration Officer to go deal with their affairs so they can leave, but I have never seen anyone ever released once they are booked into detention here in Thailand. If you are determined to be on overstay, so let's say you accidentally fall in overstay while you are stuck here because you can't do a border run or you can't get back to your home country unfortunately whatever, and you happened to get detained as a result of that overstay, presumably you are not going to be deported and allowed out of Thai Immigration Detention until they can deport you back to at least a country that will take you; in most cases that is going to be your home country. I have dealt with expedited deportations many times over the years. Our staff has dealt with it frequently and a lot of it in a sense is just getting the administrative “ducks in a row” to get you on a plane back to your home country because most countries don't want to take a deportee especially one that is coming from like a third-party country. So if you are getting deported from Thailand, your home country is the United States, but they are sending you to Malaysia. In some circumstances Malaysia may take you, in other circumstances they may say "No we are not interested in deportees. They need to go back to their home country." This would be a very bad set of circumstances to fall into during this COVID-19 issue because flights have been diminished drastically and some countries aren't even taking back their own Nationals due to quarantine measures. 

So if you can avoid going into overstay do so at all costs. I cannot advise that strenuously enough. If you can avoid going into overstay, do so at all costs because if you go into overstay and for example Thai law dictates if you are in overstay and you are detained in Thailand be it an arrest or it just comes to the attention of a Thai Police or Thai Immigration Officer that you are in overstay, they can pull you in and detain you and Thai Law actually stipulates that they should. If that occurs, not only are you blacklisted for 5 years; it is an automatic 5-year blacklisting under those circumstances, but more importantly and more to the point for this video, due to COVID-19 it may not be possible to get you back to your home country for a prolonged period of time and Immigration Detention is not a place you want to be. It is not particularly pleasant. I hesitate to totally analogize it to a jail because it is not quite that, but it is not pleasant and you may be able to find photos on the internet of what the inside of it looks like. Obviously we are not going to put any of that up here but I have been down there. It is not a place you would otherwise want to be. 

So the thing to take away from this video, if you can avoid overstay during this time period, you need to take all necessary steps to do that. Moreover the other thing to take away from this video is do not presume the amnesty applies to you. It does apply to tourists, it applies to people in exemption stamp status but generally, based on our reading of it, and apparently there is conflicting information and interpretation out there Immigration Offices that it looks like it doesn't apply to Non-Immigrant status, nor does it necessarily apply to those who only extended their lawful status in Thailand by dint of getting an Embassy letter from their home country's Embassy and then been put under sort of a pending status and then expiring within the window of amnesty. Those folks, based on what we are seeing right now, aren't necessarily being viewed as covered under the amnesty. It looks like they need to take further measures in order to regularize your status. 

So keep a close eye on your Immigration status because this is not the time to fall in to overstay and it is definitely not the time to be put in detention because it remains to be seen exactly when that detention would end under current circumstances.