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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhat Do I Do With a Thai Tourist Visa When the Immigration Amnesty Ends?

What Do I Do With a Thai Tourist Visa When the Immigration Amnesty Ends?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Tourist Visas and we are discussing them specifically in the context of the Automatic Visa extension also called a Visa Amnesty or the Thai Visa Waiver as it has been called, in the backdrop if you will of COVID-19 or a Coronavirus.

For those who are unaware, those who got stranded in Thailand were granted an amnesty if their visa expired within a certain window period of time and they were granted an amnesty in order to not accrue overstay, not accrue fines, not be considered for purposes of blacklisting if they remain in Thailand. It is extremely important to understand that the Amnesty program was instituted because it was an expedience. It really needs to be understood is that the Thai Immigration was not looking to upend well settled decades of Immigration policy, they were just faced with an unprecedented situation. They were faced with a situation where people were being stranded here unable to go home and they made ad hoc decisions and instituted ad hoc policy to accommodate those folks. As noted in other videos, it initially started with a 1- month amnesty period and then it was extended by 3 more months to provide a total of 4 months of amnesty. I think July 31st the date on which this ends, I don't think it is prudent to presume that we are going to continue an amnesty after that. I think as of July 31st that is probably the point at which most anybody can get a ticket back to their home country or to another country outside of Thailand and be able to regularize their status. 

So the question on the lips of many I am sure is "What do we do when this state of affairs comes about?  What do we do, the point of which the Thai Visa amnesty comes to an end?" Well understand the old rules are coming back into effect. This amnesty should not be viewed as a Visa status unto itself. It should instead be viewed as something akin to a negative power if you will. They are saying you are not accruing overstay. You are not accruing time which could result in a blacklisting.  It is not saying we have gotten rid of the rule. It is simply saying we are not going to apply it under current circumstances and I believe that come July 31st, that current forbearance if you will, is going to come to an end. So, what will happen?  Well I think those who have Tourist Visas that have been able to I hesitate to use the term “enjoy” but who have had their stay facilitated by the amnesty, those folks need to be looking at departing Thailand on or before the 31st.  If it is possible for you to depart before the 31st, I think it is going to be a very good idea because I think the logistical problems associated with a mass of people trying to leave Thailand all at once who tried to get every drop for lack of better term, to use an analogy “every drop of amnesty juice” they could get, they are going to leave on the last day of the Amnesty. I don't think that is a particularly wise course of action. I think you should be looking at leaving if possible, before the Amnesty comes to an end.

The other thing that should not be presumed is that a border run is going to be a possibility. We are still too far out and again I should have prefaced this video, this is all relatively speculative although it is based on inferences and knowledge of the law and experience in dealing with this over the years, but it is not presumed a border run is going to be a possibility. Now that being said, it might be. Those who are unsure of the situation it is probably a good idea to contact a legal professional who deals with this frequently. Do not presume a border run is going to be possible. Also do not presume that your choice of a border run is going to be possible. So for example it may be possible by July 31, to maybe be able to do a border run to Laos but it might not be possible to go to Cambodia. Well many people prefer to go to Cambodia; they don't prefer to go to Laos. Well that is not going to be how it rolls. It is not going to run that way. Myanmar, same deal. I mean different countries may be allowing foreigners in and then Thailand may be allowing foreigners back in. All of this remains to be seen so presuming anything with respect to a border run is not a good idea prior to really knowing for certain if the borders are open and if so under what circumstances they are open especially with respect to border run facilitation. 

So again, the thing to take away from this video, at the end of the day when this all comes to a conclusion, the regular rules are going to be reapplied. If you continue staying in Thailand past the amnesty, then it is my understanding that the overstay fines will start accruing from that moment and things pertaining to blacklisting will start applying from that moment; but that is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, I can see a scenario where somebody overstays another 10 days in Thailand and they say "No you are on the hook for the total amount of time you overstayed from the time your Visa expired, plus, because you kept overstaying." If you abide by the Amnesty and leave within the Amnesty, I can see them say "okay, you fell within the amnesty", but if you overstay past the amnesty, it remains to be seen whether or not they are going to adjudicate that as "okay, each day over the Amnesty accrues overstay time” or they are going to say "no, no you had the Amnesty. You decided to disregard it and continue overstay. We are going to add in those amnesty days and consider you for fines and blacklisting based on the amnesty days coupled with the days that you continued to overstay." It remains to be seen how they are going to adjudicate that. We will probably have some more information on that contemporaneously with the time of the amnesty actually being lifted.