In an attempt to reduce queues, Chonburi Immigration at Jomtien has now canopied the whole car park with extra seating and facilities. A few services, such as the 90 day report for long-stay farang and the collection of passports for retirees, can be completed without the need physically to enter the building. It is now compulsory to wear a mask at all times whilst on the premises and temperature checks are taken at the door.
Foreigners complaining about overcrowding have been told that local immigration officers, whilst sympathetic, have no power to vary the regulations. Suggestions such as a general amnesty for overstayers, applications for visa extensions online or paying authorized fees by credit card require national authorization and possibly Cabinet approval. Top immigration officials in Bangkok have argued that the needs of national security are paramount.
In recent days, there has been much speculation on social media that the government has agreed a measure to allow three months’ extension – to the end of June 2020 – for some foreigners who are trapped here and unable to fly home. However, Bangkok immigration spokespersons have played down the prospect of an early implementation of such a plan, stressing that the detail is complex and that they believe it could be misused by aliens.
For the moment then, foreigners needing to extend their visa because of the Corona virus pandemic are limited to a maximum 30 days at a time. Apart from passport copies, a passport size photo, a receipt for the TM30 reporting-of-address form and the 1,900 baht fee in cash, there are further requirements. These include clear proof of the address again (such as house book or land registration paper, condo ownership document), hand drawn map of residence and extra photos including the applicant pointing at the numerical address of a house where he or she is staying. It is best to bring original documentation of residence and photocopy it in advance.
Another necessary document is a letter from the applicant’s embassy confirming that the person is a victim of international travel restrictions. Many embassies have now closed their doors to visitors, but the websites of most reveal that the letters can be applied for online and sent back that way or by post. Unfortunately, the precise regulations for the 30 days extension caused by the pandemic do slightly vary from office to office. Chonburi Immigration has officers on duty to give advice on precise documentation.
However, it should be noticed that people who entered Thailand with a 30 days visa-exempt stamp or a 60 days tourist visa will normally be able to obtain a 30 days extension – once only – just as they did in the past before the Corona outbreak. In those cases, the documentation is much reduced and includes TM7 (visa extension form), TM 30 (notification of address), passport copies and one passport photo for a fee of 1,900 baht. But once these travellers have used up the allowance, they are then in the category of needing a virus-related extension as described above.
Other visa categories at the immigration bureau such as retirement extensions of stay, one year married visas, education visas, Board of Investment-sponsored activity and work permits are continuing as normal. Many visitors are saying that immigration queues are worse on Mondays and Fridays and heavier in the morning than in the afternoon. However, there appears to be an informal quota system in operation. One farang told Pattaya Mail, “It’s best just to turn up with copies of everything and the right forms filled in. The staff are doing their best within the parameters set by their superiors in Bangkok.”
Chonburi (Pattaya) Immigration closed on Monday April 6.
Due to the Chakri Day public holiday, Chonburi (Pattaya) Immigration at Jomtien Beach is closed Saturday through Monday. The office will reopen at its normal posted hours on Tuesday, April 7.