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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsCOVID-19 Automatic Thai Visa Extension: What about Non-immigrants?

COVID-19 Automatic Thai Visa Extension: What about Non-immigrants?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Non-immigrant Visas and we are specifically discussing this in the context of automatic visa extension granted in light of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak here in the Kingdom of Thailand. 

For those who are unaware, we have recently seen an announcement wherein the Immigration Office has said that those who arrived in Thailand on or after March 26th, will automatically have their visas extended up until April 30th. The thing to take away from this is that is tourists specifically.

Now in a recent posting on the Thai Immigration website, and we will go ahead and throw this up for folks who are unaware. Quoting directly from immigration.go.th.

"Notification of the Ministry of Interior dated April 7th, 2020 grants permission to foreigners of all nationalities residing in Thailand an automatic visa extension for all Visa types including visa-on-arrival, P30, PP14, PP30 and  PP90 which had not expired prior to March 26th
, 2020. My legal staff have looked at the Thai side of this and in my limited way, I have as well. They have said that this is not an overly accurate translation insofar as it may implicitly be viewed to pull in non-immigrants because it says "all visa types including". The way they have said that they would have translated it is they would have said all of the "following Visa types".

Now I am not trying disdain people for doing their translations. Everybody is just trying to get through this and figure out how best to legally maintain their status. To be clear, P30, PP14, PP30, PP90 as well as visa-on- arrival; visa on arrival is its own thing, but the PP categories, those are essentially Visa exemption stamps. Depending on the nation where one hails from, they may get a different amount of time automatically granted to them in Thailand depending on their nationality. It looks to me like this does not cover non-immigrants. At the same time the overall regulatory structure is so vague and the situation is so fluid right now, that it is possibly it could cover them. 

I am going to now differentiate in this video between two different categories of people if you will:

1. Visa extenders  and

2. Multi-entry Non-immigrant Visa holders

because these folks are going to do things or I think that there is advice for them of a different nature. 

Extenders: keep extending. If you would otherwise have been extending in April your Thai Business Visa for example, your Business visa extension, keep doing that. That is my advice because it does not look like anything in the regulatory structure says you cannot keep extending nor does it say you can maintain your status past April 30th just by dint of the fact that Coronavirus is out there. So if your visa is coming up between now and the end of the month, then you need to go ahead and extend as you always would otherwise you can end up being considered out of status or in a sense, okay yeah theoretically you could finish out the month but you are just neutralized; your visa is extinguished if they don't continue this concession that they have granted to folks. I don't even think it applies to non-immigrants anyway. So if you are in extension status just keep extending as you always have.

Meanwhile, Non-immigrant multiple-entry Visa holders, I think you are in a much more difficult position and I think you are probably going to have to muddle through this with more effort if you will than the other folks. You don't fall into extension status directly and you don't necessarily fall into tourist status which is clearly covered by the Regs. 

I think in theory, if your Visa was expiring for example on April 20th, I think in theory this may and I stress MAY, cover you up until April 30th. However again my legal staff has said they have read this multiple times and talked to immigration. It doesn't look like it covers the non-immigrant category so if you are in a multi and your time is running up, that can be a real problem for you. If however you are on a multi, for example a multiple entry B, or even a multiple entry O based on marriage, where you have a Work Permit and a company to sponsor you, you can apply for an extension and April may be a good time to seriously consider that notwithstanding this amnesty because it remains to be seen what countries bordering Thailand are going to reopen their borders; it remains to be seen if it is going to be easy to even do border run after this. So if you are in multi-entry status and you have the ability to get over into extension status now is probably the time to seriously consider that.

But long story short with respect to this video, based on our research, based on what I am looking at and obviously I can be flawed, I am not the end all be all font of all Thai Immigration information, but it looks to me like a non-immigrant Visa category is not necessarily covered by this amnesty and for that reason extension folks need to continue extending and those who are in multiple entry status might need to reconsider their status. If it is possible to extend, go ahead and do that, if not contact a legal professional and try to figure out a way to get through this as best one can.