Following a leak by the Bangkok Herald and publication of an official-looking but unsigned document on government notepaper by popular blogger Richard Barrow, a new visa amnesty is expected to last until October 31. No formal announcement is expected until late today or after tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.
Some immigration offices were overwhelmed last week by the demand for new visas and extensions. Chonburi immigration bureau in Jomtien opened an extension office on Soi Chayapruk last week which remained open part of the weekend as a customer service.
An immigration source there said that a major problem had been the reluctance of some embassies to issue letters confirming that their nationals found air travel difficult or impossible.
Jeff Holden, a British national in his late 70s, said he had requested an embassy letter as he could not find a suitable flight to Newcastle without a change of plane and airline and a 12 hours wait in Amsterdam. But he claims he was refused because he could not provide documents on why he needed to remain in Thailand.
An American tourist complained that he thought consular officers were afraid of issuing letters in case their diplomatic bosses thought they were bring too lenient. A German tourist said he had already paid 21,000 baht for a special extension with a visa agent and now discovered he had wasted his money.
Assuming the visa extension to the end of October actually happens, the problem will be knowing if even that final date may move again. The Cambodian immigration authorities today issued a notice that the ongoing visa amnesty for foreigners there with travel difficulties is being extended “sine die” or without an end date.