Visa amnesty ends


Foreigners riding the waves of Thailand’s visa amnesty will run after Oct. 31 when the Immigration Bureau will begin fining and even arresting overstayers.

Immigration sources confirmed Thursday there will be no last-minute – or after the last minute – extension of the visa amnesty that began March 26. But unlike Sept. 26, when there was a rush to airport by people unable to obtain extensions or face arrest, the Immigration Bureau is taking a slightly softer line starting in November.

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From Monday, for 90 days, overstaying foreigners can still apply for a 60-day visa extension and only pay the normal fine of 500 baht a day up to 20,000 baht. However, if overstayers are caught outside a bureau office without proof they have applied for an extension, they will be arrested, fined and deported.

Unlike before, a letter from an embassy or consulate confirming the applicant is unable to return home is not required. Instead applicants must complete a self-affidavit.

Immigration officials previously said that extensions are “unlimited” but will be granted each time on a case-by-case basis.

Immigration’s Chaeng Wattana headquarters and the satellite office at Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi will be open Oct. 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. but, another sign that no further extension is coming, Phuket’s immigration office will be closed.

The original version of this story first appeared in the Bangkok Herald.