As often happens on social media when an announcement is made by Thai authorities about visa regulations, half the foreigners who have read about it have somehow managed to get their facts wrong.
They then get on social media and spread the incorrect information, causing others to become confused as well.
Such was the case this week when people on both social media outlets and Thailand-oriented websites started to spread the ‘news’ unlimited 30-day visa extensions in Thailand would be handed out once the visa amnesty ends on September 26th.
In fact, if facts are what you are actually looking for, that is not true at all.
What did happen is there was a press conference in Bangkok during which Immigration Deputy Commander Maj Gen Pornchai Khuntee announced certain groups of foreigners still trapped in Thailand would be given 30-day extensions once the visa amnesty ends.
Those extensions will not be ‘unlimited’, but they may be extended month-to-month until either Thailand’s COVID panic is over, and borders re-open as normal, or the people needing the visa extensions no longer need them as they can travel back to their home country.
Who is eligible for a 30-day visa extension in Thailand after the visa amnesty ends?
Who are these groups of people who will currently be allowed 30-day visa extensions in Thailand once September 26th arrives?
a) People who are medically unfit to fly. In this case, however, they will still need to have a doctor’s note from a reputable doctor that outlines their medical condition and why they are unable to fly.
b) People whose countries’ borders are still locked down and in-coming international flights are banned, or whose flights have been cancelled and who are unable to find an alternate flight. These people must have a letter from their embassy stating they are not able to leave Thailand. In the case of cancelled flights, they will also need to have proof in the form of an email or other notification from the airline.
People in either of these groups will be given a 30-day visa extension if they can show the relevant paperwork. These extensions will likely extend for additional 30-day periods, as long as the circumstances in which they were originally given still apply.
This does not mean the Thai government is not allowing unlimited 30-day visa extensions for everyone else, however. It just means they are not doing so now.
This may change as there is expected to be another announcement by Thai Immigration about visa extensions after September 15th.
After that announcement is when any foreigner still stuck in Thailand should have all the information they need to be able to deal with their situation correctly and legally.
Meanwhile many foreigners are asking, in a country whose economy has been devastated by the government’s response to the COVID panic, why Thai authorities still seem to want to get rid of the hundreds of thousands of foreigners still stranded here?
After all, with Thailand’s borders still closed to most international visitors, and Thai exports falling more than at any other time in the last decade, it would seem to be beneficial to the country to keep as much money in the Kingdom as possible.
That would mean not mandating the departure of hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors, many of whom want to remain and who have been financially contributing to the Thai economy for months.