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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawWhat's the Difference Between Thai Visa on Arrival and a 30 Day Stamp?

What's the Difference Between Thai Visa on Arrival and a 30 Day Stamp?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today we're going to discuss a common misconception amongst folks with respect to coming to Thailand and that is the misconception that the 30-day exemption stamp issued to many travelers who come to the Kingdom without a visa is qualitatively the same thing as a so-called visa-on- arrival.

Thailand has, not agreements necessarily, but policies with respect to nationals from various countries which allow those nationals to enter with 30 days visa exemption upon arrival into the kingdom of Thailand. In a sense, not in the sense, in actuality, those individuals do not need a visa before arriving in the Kingdom in order to be accorded lawful status; however they are accorded lawful status for 30-day duration. A visa on arrival is a qualitatively different thing. There are other nations that Thailand has policies with which allow visa on arrival. What this means is that foreign nationals from those countries can board a plane without an actual visa in their passport but before processing through immigration here in the Kingdom, they have to actually obtain a proper visa; they just do so from a desk between essentially the gate they come off the plane in and the actual immigration checkpoint that they will be processed through here in the Kingdom. So a visa-on-arrival is a visa proper it's just not issued in a foreign country, it's kind of a middle step between, you know having to have a visa to come here at all, and having an exemption stamp. There are various countries that have visa-on-arrival, especially high population density countries that Thailand basically says "yes there are a lot of folks that are going to come from there, we are going to allow visa on arrival and we are going to basically make a determination on a case-by-case basis with respect to granting the visa and ultimately admitting that individual". I guess it is theoretically possible that a visa on arrival could be issued but later that immigration officer would refuse to admit that individual notwithstanding the visa on arrival was issued. It's two different things it's two different parts of the overall process, but that being said I find it rather difficult to see a set of circumstances where that would happen.

So with respect to visa-on-arrival, again it is qualitatively different from a 30 day stamp. In many cases a visa-on-arrival can be converted into some other visa here in the Kingdom with a little bit more ease as opposed to a 30-day stamp which oftentimes requires an individual present in the Kingdom to leave the country, get a proper Visa at an embassy and come back in if they wish to remain long-term in non-immigrant status such as B visa  status,  O visa status,   Retirement visa status, or ED status which are the most commonly utilized non-immigrant visa categories here in the Kingdom. A visa on arrival though would actually have that individual in visa status in the Kingdom, so it's possible that facilitating a conversion to another visa category might be a little bit easier compared to dealing with a 30-day exemption stamp and trying to convert out of that exemption and into a visa and extending that visa. So again they are qualitatively different things. There's no difference in so far as one can get on a plane and come to the country without a visa beforehand but once arriving there are going to be qualitatively different procedures that an individual is going to have to undertake depending on the nationality whether they have a visa exemption stamp or a visa on arrival. So the thing to take away from this video is they are two different things and the things take away from this is that's going to be different procedures associated with those two different types of travel documentation.