Nationally, the immigration bureau has announced that the closing date for applications for 60 days Covid extensions has been moved from January 25 to March 25. However, the official information released so far appears to limit new applications to just two kinds of specifically tourist permissions. With that caveat:
As in Vietnam already and potentially in Cambodia, the Thai authorities seem to be saying that the liberal 60 days Covid extensions are coming to an end. It is time for foreigners to move on if they are dependent on this kind of discretion. Although land borders remain closed for tourist traffic and so-called visa runs, the situation as regards regular flights to all continents and most countries is much improved since the pandemic first took root almost two years ago. A new, and likely the last, date for applying is up to and including March 25. But this discretion is limited to “tourists” with an initial visa or permission labeling them as such.
60 day tourist visas
Foreigners who already entered with this visa, issued by Thai embassies and consulates abroad, can readily extend a further 30 days without invoking the Covid discretion – a total of 90 days guaranteed. If they wish to extend further, they can receive a further 60 days (30 x 2) by applying at immigration offices for the Covid extension. However, they must make that application by March 25. The immigration officer may need to be satisfied, before granting the Covid extension, that they are genuine tourists and not, for example, unlicensed teachers.
30 days visa exempt
Foreigners from many traditional markets (US, UK, Australia, most of mainland Europe) have arrived with 30 days permission but without a prior visa. Since 2015, with the express approval of the then military junta leader and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, they have been allowed to extend 30 days more at Thai immigration. The bureau has yet to confirm that these foreigners, some of whom have been vacationing here for two years on Covid extensions, are eligible to apply for one more before March 25. It seems likely that they will be included if only because there are so many of them, perhaps 50,000 nationally, who presumably need notice to quit.
15 days visa on arrival
Immigration has already confirmed that visitors from 19 countries (which include China and India) cannot receive any more Covid visas (after January 25), nor switch their visa to another category, if they initially entered the country with a 15 days on arrival visa granted at the Thai airport. Holders of this visa are overwhelmingly Chinese or Indians and almost all are believed to have left the country. The inconvenience, if any, will be felt by any remaining tourists from smaller countries such as Taiwan and Bulgaria. Thai immigration appears to be signaling that whenever international tourism does resume on any scale, the 15 days visa is specifically for short term visitors from the designated countries.
The information given already by the immigration bureau states that the Covid extension will not be granted to any non-immigrant visa holder after January 25. Of course, most such visa holders are on one year extensions of stay – particularly for retirement and marriage – and they will continue annual extensions in the normal way. Holders of the non-immigrant medical visa will be able to extend that visa if they can prove they are still under significant hospital treatment. But holders of the non-immigrant volunteer visa will find they cannot enjoy another Covid-related extension and will not be able to apply inside Thailand for a tourist visa. Those on non-immigrant student visas should liaise with their place of learning to assess their options.
The 60 days married extension
This extension applies only to foreigners legally married to a Thai spouse and able to prove it by documentation and in the presence of that spouse. It is available at immigration offices from any visa and lasts for two months. It is unaffected by the recently announced changes to Covid extensions.
Work permit holders
They are not affected by Covid visa news as the extensions never covered foreigners working legally with a permit issued by the Ministry of Labour. But those who have ceased working and been surviving on Covid extensions will have a problem as they cannot transfer to tourist status. Guest workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos holding labour passes have a separate list of rules through Memoranda of Understanding between Thailand and neighboring countries.
Holders of the police red book – all permanent residents have one – do not require a visa to live in Thailand. However, they do need a re-entry permit if they leave.