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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhat Could Thai Visa Runs Look Like Post COVID-19 Lockdown?

What Could Thai Visa Runs Look Like Post COVID-19 Lockdown?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing what would visa runs look like in post COVID-19 Thailand after the lockdown gets lifted? We are making this video while the locked down is still on and while all borders are effectively sealed for all intents and purposes. It may be possible to leave Thailand to go back to your home country but trying to do a Visa Run to maybe a third party country, even your home country and trying to come back in, that is a "different kettle of fish" as they say where I come from. 

So, what am I talking about here? First of all let me be specific. I am doing another video specifically on Border runs and I am going to go into that in a minute. I am making that contemporaneously with this video. In this video, we are discussing Visa runs and let me first of all be clear about the distinction. I consider there to be a distinction between a Visa Run and a Border Run. I consider a Visa Run to be going to one's home country or a third-party country, so leaving Thailand, going to a home country or third-party country and obtaining a visa from a Thai Embassy or a Thai Consulate in that jurisdiction. So for example, if your B Visa runs out here in Thailand, you don't prefer to do a Business Visa extension here in the country, this is during normal times not COVID-19 times as we are dealing with right now. You are looking to get a Business Visa abroad, you get on a plane and you go down to KL, Malaysia and you get yourself a new Business Visa. That is a Visa Run. You come back to Thailand, you are stamped back in and you have got now a new Business Visa status. That is a Visa Run; so leaving the country, going to a Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate, coming back in and maintaining lawful status via that methodology. What do I think things are going to look like post COVID-19? Do I think it is going to be possible? Yes eventually.  Let me read some quotes and provide some analysis before I just thrust the conclusion upon you. 

In a recent article from the Bangkok Post, that is, the article is titled: Thailand Logs 28 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Deaths Monday. Now I want to quote specifically from this article and I am quoting directly from Taweesilp Visanuyothin who is a spokesman for the Government Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration; that is the CCSA. So this is from the article and this is a quotation directly from him. "We can't afford to be complacent because Thailand is still surrounded by red zone countries" I thought that was interesting red zone countries, "The situation remains too volatile. The improved figures are the result of our efforts in the past week."  Now they are talking about this in the context of lifting the lockdown and personally I am hoping and thinking that the lockdown can and should be lifted sooner rather than later. That being said, I am not a medical professional so I will try to leave that to them unless it becomes overwhelmingly clear that we need to lift the lockdown but we are not talking about that in this video. What I thought was interesting was the specific quotation "Thailand is still surrounded by red zone countries".  What does that lead me to believe? Well, one, it leads me to believe that we are probably not going to be seeing easy access necessarily from a third-party country back into Thailand in the near future and that is important because a Visa Run in a sense, if anyone has ever seen the film The Prestige. There was a there was a movie some years ago it had Christian Bale in it. It was about magicians and they talked about how a magic trick is formulated and there is the First Act, Second Act and a Third Act and the third Act is called The Prestige. In this sense, coming back into Thailand with your new Visa is the Prestige. It is re-presenting the object that you made disappear like your lawful visa status disappeared when you left Thailand, you went and got a new visa and upon re-arrival and readmission, you got a new set of lawful status.  I think from that quote alone, it is logical to infer that Thailand is probably not going to be letting folks come in from neighboring countries in the necessarily near future; by near I mean weeks. I am not talking about years, I am not even talking about months. I am talking about in coming weeks I don't think it is likely we are going to see a lot of international travel even here regionally within ASEAN even I think it is very likely we are not going to see a lot of international travel. 

Now another side of this that you have to keep in mind with respect to a Visa run is you have got to get in the country that is hosting that Thai Embassy to get your visa applied for. So just to get in the country, if it is a third-party country i.e. a country that you are not a national of, you do not have a passport for, it is not a foregone conclusion you are going to be admitted. They have their own policies with respect to COVID-19 and notwithstanding the fact Thailand may have raised or lifted their lockdown, those countries may not have raised or lifted their lockdown or they may not have radically pulled back their restrictions on people coming into that country. In fact they could be allowing people in under a quarantine measure; you may have to spend two weeks in a quarantine somewhere. 

So the thing to take away from this video is, I do think Visa runs will come back but I think that it is going to take some time. I think we have some weeks ahead before I see Visa runs being a viable option. For those who are in multiple entry status here in Thailand and watching their status tick away, it is probably a good idea sooner rather than later, to be looking at extending status here in Thailand. For those who are unaware of how to deal with that, it is probably a good idea to contact a legal professional in order to get some information about how best to maintain or extend one's lawful status here in the Kingdom of Thailand.