Thailand extends visa amnesty for foreigners

Phuket. Photo by Flickr

The government of Thailand has extended the visa amnesty for stranded foreign nationals until October 31.

A report by The Nation said that the government will extend the visa amnesty for international travelers to acknowledge their challenges on returning to their home countries amid the ongoing travel ban.

The amnesty came after the Interior Ministry’s announcement that offices in Bangkok and Pattaya were overwhelmed by the huge number of foreigners trying to extend their visas.

Some 150,000 foreign nationals were expected to benefit from the visa amnesty, but they are required to submit an application to an Immigration office by October 3.

In a statement read by Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesperson Taweein Wisanuyothin, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha acknowledged that many foreign travelers have to stay in Thailand and cannot travel out to go back to their home countries.

“It has been agreed to announce that the Interior Ministry is to use Section 17 of the Immigration Act 2522 to extend the time [for foreigners to] follow Section 35 and 37(5) by allowing them to stay as a special case from Sept 27 to Oct 31,” the statement read.

“Foreigners who are not able to travel out [of Thailand] and intended to stay after Oct 31 can go to ask for an extension at the immigration for their permits to stay to expire Oct 31.”

The visa amnesty has been extended twice, the latest of which expired on Saturday, September 26.

According to the government, extended visas will now be valid for 60 days.

Earlier last week, the Thai Chamber of Commerce urged the government to extend the visa amnesty for 400,000 tourists as they are helping generate revenue in the province while borders remain closed.

According to the chamber, the government should accommodate the aliens with a more flexible period rather than blacklisting them while Thailand cannot yet reopen for inbound tourists.

“The uncompromising stance towards visa extension scares tourists away despite the fact that they help drive the local economy in these tough times,” the chamber said.