Visa On Arrival, Free Visas still valid due to legal obligations & int’l agreements


BANGKOK, March 12 (TNA) The government’s decision to lift visa-on-arrival (VOA) and free visa privileges to control the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cannot take effect immediately due to legal obligations with some countries.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the issue with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, and Consular Affairs director-general Chatree Atchananant as the government was reconsidering the suspension of VOA for 17 countries and one economic territory and free visas for South Korea, Hong Kong and Italy amid the COVID-19 spreading.

Concerned officials earlier warned that some legal obligations and international agreements prevented the government from suspending the immigration privileges right away.

After the meeting Mr Chatree said the VOA suspension measure that the government announced through its COVID-19 control center on Wednesday had not taken effect because it must be proposed to the cabinet meeting on March 17 first.

He said that visa free privileges could be lifted right away when the country needed to impose strict disease control measures. However, the visa privileges that were based on bilateral agreements with countries including South Korea, Hong Kong and Russia would have to undergo careful consideration on relevant legal obligations first, Mr Chatree said. (TNA)