The Immigration Bureau has confirmed that letters from embassies are needed for short-term visa holders to be granted a 30-day extension to stay after the ‘visa amnesty’ granted by Cabinet on Tuesday.
The Cabinet approved the automatic visa extension for all visa types, previously set to expire on 31st July, to be extended until 26th September 2020.
A draft copy of the proposal for the visa extension request, which was reported as approved in full, was posted on the main Immigration Bureau website on Wednesday.
“This means that foreigners whose visas had expired as from 26th March 2020 will be permitted to stay until 26th September 2020 without having to apply for an extension,” the Immigration Bureau announcement explained.
However, the announcement was removed later that day and now has been replaced by a new announcement explaining clearly that all short-term visa holders who wish to remain in Thailand due to a lack of flights or other circumstances preventing them from returning home due to the COVID-19 pandemic must present a letter from their embassy in order to be granted the “automatic visa extension”.
According to the announcement posted late yesterday, “Short-term visa holders. (TR, TS, VOA) and those granted a visa exemption have to prepare for departing the Kingdom on 26th September 2020 at the latest.
1.1 In case of illness
– Bring a medical certificate to contact a local immigration office
1.2 In case of having other obstacles such as no flights or having an outbreak situation
– Contact an embassy or consulate for issuing a letter of confirmation and request for a temporary stay and bring it to contact a local immigration office.”
Each permission shall be granted no more than 30 days, the announcement said clearly.
The US Embassy in Bangkok had previously posted a public notice, marked in bold, that it would not be issuing such letters. That notice has now been removed. A public statement confirming whether or not the embassy will now be issuing such letters has yet to be posted.
Australian Ambassador to Thailand Allan McKinnon last week confirmed that the Australian Embassy in Bangkok is now providing letters to assist Australian nationals seeking to extend their visas. At that time it was deemed a prudent precaution.
“While there has been no announcement on the future of the visa amnesty to date, we understand many people have gone to Immigration to extend their existing visas (or to convert their visas) ahead of the deadline. Many have been informed that they require a letter from their Embassy to do this,” Matthew Barclay, Australian Consul-General to Phuket, told The Phuket News last Friday (17th July 2020).
“It is our intent to ensure that we are not an obstacle in this process. As a result, we will be issuing letters (at no fee and via email) to those Australians who send their passport biodata page to Consular.Bangkok@dfat.gov.au. People should expect a reply within one to two working days,” he added.
As always, anyone with queries about their visa circumstances should direct these to Thai Immigration, Mr Barclay advised.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Bureau announcement posted late yesterday confirmed that all long-term visa holders whose permits to stay expired after 26th March also must submit an application for an extension to stay “from now until 26th September 2020”.
“All types of visa extension will be effective from 27th September 2020. In order to reduce overcrowding, please come earlier,” the announcement read.
Long-stay foreigners whose 90-day notification of residence “having a due date from 26th March to 31st July 2020” must submit 90-day notifications “from 1st-31st August 2020 through specified channels”, the announcement added.