CityNews – In response to the missing flight MH370 containing two asylum seekers who acquired stolen passports from Pattaya in March, the Immigration Bureau of Thailand have increased the pressure on limiting foreign nationals doing Out-In visa runs to renew their on arrival tourist visa.
A formal notice posted on Bangkok’s Immigration website states that after August 12, tourists attempting to enter Thailand on visa exemption status after just completing a stay in the Kingdom will be refused re-entry to Thailand
This is specific to Tourist Visa exemption status, which in layman’s terms is Thailand’s visa on arrival stamp for visiting Tourists. Foreigners can still re-enter Thailand but only if they have not done so three times before until August 12. They will receive an “O-I” passport stamp highlighting that they have already completed an Out-In visa run.
After this transition date, immigration officers will refuse any foreigners attempting to re-enter Thailand if they have just completed a visa exemption stay.
It is ambiguous as to how long they will require you to stay out of the country before granting another Visa exemption status.
The aim is to reduce the abuse on the system resulting in many foreigners working or living in Thailand illegally. The official notice also mentioned specific nationalities would be targeted “such as Koreans”. Only in special circumstances will people be granted a re-entry on a visa exemption status.
It is suggested that tourists attempting to do a visa-run, should do it on a border or by air with a country that has a Thai embassy or consulate to avoid getting refused entry and becoming stranded. For example, the Mae Sai border, as Myanmar does not have any Thai consulate or embassy.
Extensions of 7 days can be acquired for holders of 30-day visas at any immigration office for 1,900 baht.
Below is a simple timeline of Immigration changes planned for The Kingdom of Thailand as on today. (May 14)
May 14 – August 12
Tourists on a tourist visa (usually 30 days or 15 days) may conduct Out-In visa runs no more than 3 times.
Passports will be stamped with “O-I” to indicate one Out-In visa renewal trip.
August 13 onwards
Visitors to Thailand who are eligible for a visa exemption status (full list here) are granted one entry to the Kingdom of Thailand. Visitors must provide proof of forward travel and at least 10,000 Baht per person or 20,000 baht per family.
Anyone attempting to do a visa-run will be refused entry if applying for a second visa exemption status (visa on arrival). Cut off period for refusal is ambiguous.
Anyone wishing to re-enter the Kingdom of Thailand must visit a consulate or embassy abroad and apply for a specific visa, such as 60-day Tourist visas or other specific visas.