On 8th May Thailand’s Immigration Bureau announced that border posts would no longer allow ‘out-in’ border crossings for visitors to extend their stay in Thailand, unless it was for the purpose of tourism.
Under the above announcement, the Bureau has decided to clamp down, meaning in practice that only initial extensions of stay are being permitted. However those attempting a fourth or more entry (including the initial arrival in Thailand) are being told to remain outside the country, buy a visa or incur a THB 500/day penalty.1
In some cases, so-called visa runs do not actually involve an application for a normal visa to work in Thailand at all. They are in fact a way for people holding a tourist visa to extend their stay in Thailand: a stamped passport at the border when re-entering Thailand means up to 30 days’ further stay in the Land of Smiles.
In fact, the new stricter measures come from an internal ruling applied by immigration officials. Thus, it is not certain that this will be applied in the same manner across all border crossings.
Reasons Immigration Bureau officials give for the sudden crackdown vary. The Bureau’s Chief stated that abuse of tourist visas, particularly by South Koreans, Russians and Vietnamese working in Thailand illegally, initiated the stricter enforcement of the rules.2 However, one local administrator said it was designed to make it more difficult for international criminals to operate in Thailand.
Whilst some may see it as an adventure akin to something out of a John Le Carré novel, visa runs often take up at least a whole morning and end up costing as much as applying for an official visa.
If you are living in Thailand, it is ultimately much less stress to obtain the correct visa. There are several types, depending on your circumstances, and you may even need a work permit to be legal. These can be obtained individually or through your company/employer. Companies with Thai Board of Investment privileges have a right to a prescribed number of work permits, so it may be a straightforward affair.
That said, the various possibilities and the amount of bureaucracy that can be involved can make the process labyrinthine. The relevant rules and regulations can sometimes be altered, complicated and time-consuming if you do it yourself. For that reason, if you need a visa – especially one to live in Thailand – and/or a work permit, it’s more efficient for you, your company or your employer to get a specialist to the do all the work for you.
1 http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-visa-run-crackdown-applies-across-thailand-expat-criminals-target- 20197/
2 http://www.bangkokpost .com/news/security/410342/border-insecurity-mounts-as-tourist-visa-abuse-is-targeted
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