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Phuket Immigration jammed-expats on non-immigrant visas forced leave the country

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Offline tiggs

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Phuket Immigration jammed with foreigners, expats on non-immigrant visas forced to leave the country

Expats living and working in Phuket for years, even more than a decade, are being forced to leave the country because of the Immigration Bureau’s requirement for non-tourist foreigners staying in Thailand to obtain a letter from their embassies requesting the foreigner’s permit-to-stay be extended.

Hundreds of foreigners arrived at the Phuket Immigration Offiec in Phuket Town this morning (Mar 23) in the hope of extending their stay in the country instead risking contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus by having to travel home or anywhere else to comply with the Thai immigration regulation issued late last week.

On Friday, Phuket Immigration confirmed to The Phuket News that by order from Bangkok all tourists can extend their stay by simply presenting themselves at the Immigration office, filing an application and paying B1,900.

However, all foreigners staying on any other kind of visa, which includes Non-Immigrant O visas issued to foreigners married to a Thai and supporting a Thai family as well as Business visas, must obtain a letter from their respective embassy in order to be granted an extension to stay.

Expats in Phuket have since reported to The Phuket News that their respective embassies, including the British, American and Australian embassies, are not issuing such letters.

The Phuket News understands that the reluctance to issue such letters arises from the current situation that many people can still get flights to their home countries, though not necessarily to the city the foreigner might want to arrive at.

However, for many foreigners no direct flights home are available under the current travel lockdown.

The consular officials The Phuket News spoke to stressed for tourists to just get the extension available.

They also stressed such tourists to consider seriously where they would prefer to be if the situation continues in the long term while they face possible infection with the virus.

Regarding the letters for long-term expats on non-immigrant visas, The Phuket News has been told that the embassies are working urgently on the problem.

Of serious concern is that there has been no confirmation by immigration officials whether or not foreigners are being charged the maximum B500 a day fine for overstay for circumstances beyond their control.

All calls by The Phuket News to Phuket Immigration this morning went unanswered.

Meanwhile, one foreigner who has been living and working in Thailand for more than a decade told The Phuket News this morning that he has been told that he has until April 3 to leave the country to comply with Thai Immigration’s requirement for him to leave the country every 90 days.

“As I am on a Non-immigrant, multiple-entry business visa. I am able to travel to and work in Thailand for a maximum of 90 days at a time. This is not usually a problem as I return home regularly every six to eight weeks.

“However as my home is under siege of the coronavirus, I have stayed here for the full 90 days. Now I must leave as there are no extensions available for business visas.

“When I go home I will have to go into 14-day quarantine then I must get a COVID-19 medical clearance before trying to get back into Thailand to continue the business.

“There is great risk Thailand will close its borders and not let me return.

The sensible choice is for me to send the Thai staff home. Stop paying rent, tax and wages in Thailand and move all my assets out of Thailand. That is not good for me and not good for Thailand.

“Now I am waiting outside, sitting under a tree. It would be better for everyone if they could extend the same as tourists,” he said.

thephuketnews.com
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Offline tiggs

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bit more on that ...

"So we are issuing 30-day extensions in accordance with immigration regulations that allow for such measures during special circumstances, such as an outbreak of disease," he added.

The extensions cost B1,900 each, Lt Col Udom confirmed.

However, any foreigners seeking to extend their stay must have letter from the embassy or consulate of their home country, he stressed.

“The letter must be from the embassy or consulate requesting that the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau allow the foreigner to stay in the country longer. It must name the foreigner and it must have the sentence that the foreigner is unable to travel due to the COVID-19 coronvirus situation,” Lt Col Udom said.

"It must be an actual letter, to be hand over with a copy of their passport

thephuketnews.com
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Online caller

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Sorry, I don't understand any of this. Is this just for visa holders who have to leave Thailand every 90 days?

This is the first I have heard about any of this.

It will be almost impossible to get a flight anywhere soon. Surely common sense has to prevail?

Emirates suspend all flights on the 25th. BA's last flight out of Bkk to London on the 28th. Eva already slashed services and other doing the same. Thailand will have to change their policy for the duration. That much is obvious. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 04:02:15 PM by caller »


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First I have heard about this too.  Has anyone asked their Embassy yet?  Sounds completely barking mad to me.


Offline tiggs

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non-immigrant visas
However, all foreigners staying on any other kind of visa, which includes Non-Immigrant O visas issued to foreigners married to a Thai and supporting a Thai family as well as Business visas, must obtain a letter from their respective embassy in order to be granted an extension to stay.  thats worded very badly


UPDATE
If people are just renewing their one-year permit to stays, like they do every year, they do not have to leave the country while waiting for their renewal to be approved – just as usual. These people are unaffected,” he said. 

bang out of order at a time like this
Phuket Immigration confirms B500 a day overstay fines are being levied
“My advice is for foreigners to urge their embassies to issue them a letter requesting a 30-day extension. If their visas expire, they will be charged for B500 a day overstay in accordance with the law,” Lt Col Udom confirmed.

thephuketnews.com
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Offline tiggs

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Visa Support Letters   

The Australian Consulate-General in Phuket will provide visa support letters to those Australians in Thailand who can prove long term residency in Thailand.

Please email Consular.Phuket@dfat.gov.au with your personal particulars page of your passport and a copy of your current visa.  There will be no fee applied for this service.

We will not consider providing these letters to those who are traveling on Tourist Visas unless there are significant extenuating circumstances.

Australian Government advice remains that Australians should seek to return home while commercial options remains to do so

phuket.consulate.gov.au


COVID-19 Visa Extension Letter

This service is available for British Nationals who entered Thailand with a tourist visa and have already extended this at Immigration, have had their flight to UK/place of residence cancelled and cannot reschedule their flight until after their visa expires.

To apply, email Bangkok.DocumentaryServices@fco.gov.uk with evidence of:

    Copy of biodata page of passport
    Visa stamp/sticker with expiry date
    Evidence of the cancelled flight to UK/place of residence (showing date of travel before the visa expiry date)
    Visa of country of residence if this is not UK/EU
    Where possible, evidence of re-scheduled/re-booked flight

   gov.uk
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 08:04:52 PM by tiggs »
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If people are just renewing their one-year permit to stays, like they do every year, they do not have to leave the country while waiting for their renewal to be approved – just as usual. These people are unaffected,” he said. 

Do you mean their visa, which is extended annually? Like an O issued in Thailand, or an O or OA issued by Embassies around the World, the whole point of which means you don't have to leave the Country to extend.




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This just seems to be for tourists.

From Hua Hin Forum:

British Embassy now issuing letters:

COVID-19 Visa Extension Applications – Support Letter
The British Embassy can issue a letter to support applications to extend existing visas. Those holding a tourist visa should first apply for a 30-day extension at an Immigration Office.

To apply, email Bangkok.DocumentaryServices@fco.gov.uk with evidence of:

Copy of biodata page of passport
Entry stamp
Visa stamp/sticker with expiry date

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/notarial-an ... ort-letter