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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsWhat Could Thai Border Runs Look Like Post COVID-19 Lockdown?

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

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Border Runs and the concept of the Border Run in a post COVID-19 Lockdown Thailand. So we are talking about what is this going to look like; this practice of border running, after they lift the lockdown and the sealed border route rules associated with Coronavirus.

So for those who are unaware, I make the distinction between a Visa Run and a Border Run and I want to be clear about what I view the difference as being. I view a Visa Run as running to either one's home country and by running I mean leaving Thailand, going to one's home country or what I would call a third-party country, another country that is not one's home country perhaps nearby here in the region of Thailand, going to a Thai Embassy, getting a Visa and coming back to Thailand; that's a Visa Run. You run to an Embassy, you get a Visa and you come back to Thailand. There is the Border run and that is where you simply run to a border of Thailand with one of the neighboring countries, cross out of Thailand, cross back in and use that mechanism to maintain one's lawful status. 

Now folks that are in Thai Visa exemption status are not the only ones who may utilize this.  Folks who have a Thai Tourist Visa are often known to utilize this method for maintaining their status especially a multiple entry Thai Tourist Visa. Meanwhile, a Non-immigrant Thai Visa so that could be a Thai O Visa or a Thai B Visa which is issued in a multiple entry context. So you get a sticker which is good for an entire year. Each entry you are granted 90 days of status. I often see these folks either do a border run via an airport or they do a border run via a literal border run where they run to a border, cross out and cross back in and they have that got 90 more days. What are Border Runs going to look like in the aftermath of COVID-19? 

In a recent article from the Bangkok Post, that is, the article is titled Thailand Logs 28 New Coronavirus cases, 2 deaths: Monday. Quoting directly from that article and we are not going to get into the Lockdown itself, but I am quoting from Taweesilp Wissanuyothin and that is a spokesman for the Government's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, quoting directly: "We can't afford to be complacent because Thailand is still surrounded by “red zone countries." This is me talking. I will get back to that in a moment. Quoting further: "The situation remains too volatile. The improved figures are the result of our efforts in the past week." So the thing to take away from this video is that Thai Officials at least at the COVID-19 Center, and they are going to have a lot to do with policy with respect to Immigration should the lockdown be lifted, they still view certain countries surrounding them  as "red zone countries", so they could be regionally or in the broader region, the greater region of East and Southeast Asia. What I take away from that quote is that it is logical to infer that we could continue to see restrictions even once the Lockdown here locally is lifted, it may not necessarily mean the borders are opened up for people to leave and come back in over a land border. Meanwhile, and this is important to keep in mind, even where Thailand perhaps opens up their borders, countries neighboring Thailand may not be opening their borders for foreign nationals or more specifically non Thai nationals to come into those countries. I could definitely see a situation where certain migrant labour, especially people that live along the border, are allowed to depart the country and come in and out as their livelihood may deem necessary but that doesn't necessarily mean nationals from for example the United States, the UK, the Anglosphere generally or Europe; folks that are over here from farther away in terms of distance, those folks may not necessarily be allowed to use the border and the country the "receiving country" albeit for a relatively short time, that receiving country may not open their borders as well. 

So at least for the foreseeable future, and by foreseeable future I mean weeks not necessarily months, I think it is possible that we may be seeing a situation in which Border Runs may be theoretically possible or becoming more likely as time moves on, but I do not foresee this situation coming off without a hitch. Those who are looking at doing a Border Run need to assess their situation carefully. It might not be a terrible idea to contact a legal professional.

One final note. For those who are in Thai Non-immigrant Visa, multiple entry status, that is folks who are issued a one-year sticker but their status is only granted in 90 day intervals, for folks who meet that criteria, I would urge you to really understand your status and try to extend if possible. It is not a foregone conclusion that Border Runs are going to be a possibility in the near future.