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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhat Happens to a Thai Multiple Entry B Visa When the Amnesty Ends?

What Happens to a Thai Multiple Entry B Visa When the Amnesty Ends?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Non-immigrant multiple-entry Thai Business Visas and we are specifically discussing this in the context of the recently promulgated automatic visa extension or the Thai Visa Amnesty as it is called; sometimes referred to as the Thai Visa Waiver, which was created in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the crisis of folks that were being stranded in Thailand in response to the COVID-19 situation.

Business Visas and Non-immigrant Visas generally were not initially covered pursuant to the initial amnesty as we read the announcement. There was some nuance regarding this. I have gone through the analysis of this. I still think there is some discrepancy or gray area with respect to how Non-immigrants are dealt with, how Non-immigrant Visa holders are dealt with and Multiple-entry Non-immigrant visas are an especially curious or precarious case under the circumstances involved with this amnesty. The second amnesty, the extension that has now taken us out to July 31st seems to have covered all types of visas including non-immigrants so Non-immigrant multi-entry Visa holders, you are probably okay with respect to the amnesty but there are there are knock on implications which can flow from falling into amnesty in a Non-immigrant Visa context. Let me go through that real quick. 

So first understand the amnesty is not an affirmative visa status. It is not a category. It is just a forbearance on the part of Thai Immigration to assess the accrual of overstay fines; Bt500 a day for each day of overstay in Thailand. It is also a waiver of a finding that one has been accruing time in overstay toward the possibility of being blacklisted from returning to Thailand. It is not and I repeat this, it is not in and of itself a Visa status. It is effectively a negation if you will. It operates in the negative. It is negating the accrual of overstay fines and negating the accrual of time being tabulated toward assessment of a possible automatic blacklisting. That is all it is. So when this ends on July 31, and I don't believe at least as of the time of this video, it will be extended past July 31, when this ends, it is over. We are back to the old Visa rules. 

So first of all if you are on a Non-immigrant visa and you are looking to just leave and be done, you were planning to leave Thailand anyway and circumstances just got away and you were not able to leave for whatever reason, but the amnesty accommodated you, if you are looking to just leave I would urge you to leave earlier than the 31st if that is at all possible. So if you are able to leave prior to the 31st, I recommend doing so because I think folks are squeezing every last drop for lack of better term of "amnesty juice" out of this program. If you all leave in like one big mass on the 31st or try to do Border Runs and I will get in the Border runs in a moment, but if you try to all do that all at the same time, I don't think that is a good idea. I think that is going to result in possibly more problems and as I will get into in a moment, over staying past the amnesty could cause a set of its own issues. For issues specific to a non-immigrant Visa there is another thing to keep in mind and that is those who are on a multiple entry non-immigrant B, and we certainly have a number of clients that utilize those, quite frankly, in many ways they can be more convenient than dealing with a B Visa extension here in Thailand and some people opt to do it; some people find extension is better. If you have yet to see your non-immigrant B expire and the need for the amnesty, I would strongly urge you to consult a legal professional and try to extend your status; it is a better way of dealing with this because extension status is an affirmative visa status. It is not sort of a status that sort of only operates in the negative the way that an amnesty status is.

A thing to keep in mind is Work Permits. Thai Immigration policy does not have any direct bearing on Labour Department policy so when you fell out a status with respect to your B Visa, that Amnesty does not affirmatively extend your B visa, it simply says "It is a forbearance. We are just simply waving the fines and we are waving the accrual of blacklisting time. We are not extending B status. We are simply waiving overstay status."  Labour Department can take the position that your B Visa has expired and therefore the platform on which your Work Permit rests has thereby expired and therefore your Work Permit expired. Your work permit is cancelled and Thai Labour Department has an affirmative policy in place that stipulates if that occurs you need to have cancelled your Work Permit and failure to do so can result in a fine. So there could be a fine associated with not dealing with an extension of your B Visa status while in the Amnesty. So I would urge those who have yet to have their B Visa status expire, seriously look into extending it. If you were planning to do a Border Run but it turns out you can't, and the last entry stamp, the 90 days has yet to expire, seriously look at extending because by getting an extension you may save yourself a lot of headache on the back end of this with your Work Permit and it is just better overall because you are in an actual status. 

The other thing to understand is after this Amnesty comes to an end, I can't say for certain exactly how Thai Immigration could view a subsequent overstay. If you leave before the Amnesty ends, I think it is very clear that you will be accorded the Amnesty and you will just be allowed to leave. If you overstay by say a day, will they only stipulate that you accrued 1 days’ worth of overstay, or will they say, "Look we gave you every opportunity to leave Thailand within the Amnesty period. You chose to overstay even further. We are now going to tack on all of that Amnesty time back onto to an overstay that occurs after the Amnesty comes to an end”. I don't think it is a foregone conclusion how they are going to treat that one way or the other. I can definitely see a scenario where they say “Look, any subsequent overstay reactivates all the time you were on over stay for Amnesty for purposes of accruing fines and blacklisting assessment”. So I definitely think that is possible. I could also see them saying, "Look, you overstayed after the Amnesty. The amnesty  is just Null and Void. Everything that happened in there has nothing to do with your Immigration status. We are only going to assess fines on the time you actually overstay past the amnesty”. That being said it is never advisable to overstay. I strongly urge you to leave the country prior to July 31 if you are enjoying the Amnesty, in order to avoid an overstay.  For those who are even thinking about it, understand, I think it is a definite possibility that Immigration will take the position, "Hey, we granted you an Amnesty. We gave you 4 months in which to get yourself and your situation in order. You have now overstayed. We are reactivating all that time, we are assessing a fine against you. We are going to Blacklist you on the way out”.  There can be a real problem for folks. Don't overstay. 

Finally, presuming Border Runs will be a possibility and this is especially pertinent for Multiple-entry B Visa holders because they often times do use Border Runs or do use routine business travel as a mechanism by which to keep themselves in lawful status in Thailand, I do not think it is a foregone conclusion that there will be Border Runs available or Border Run options available at the time that this Amnesty comes to an end. So again, it is probably a good idea to contact a legal professional. If there are Border Run opportunities, it may be very Border dependent so like for example it may be possible to do a Border Run to Myanmar and it may not be possible to do a Border Run to Cambodia for whatever reason; or a border run to Laos and not a Border Run to Myanmar, or  a border run to Cambodia and not a Border Run to Laos. So it will probably be very factually dependent.

For those who really are having problems understanding this, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and contact a legal professional if you are looking at a Border Run at the end of this. If you are already boxed into your not being able to extend your B Visa and you are just going to have to watch your Non-immigrant Visa, just enjoy the amnesty for lack of better term, and try to do a Border Run. Probably not a terrible idea to contact a legal professional before the conclusion of this Amnesty to try and make a travel plan that will allow you to utilize your multi-entry Visa, get out without going into overstay and then hopefully get back in to Thailand and take back up your B Visa status as well as your Work Permit status.