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Discussions about visa amnesty have begun but remain quiet

1 Jul 2020

Discussions have started on the prospects for immigrants in many government offices, who take advantage of the visa amnesty that expires in little over a month. Holders of all temporary permits and boundary pass expiring on from March 26 – but not even any renewing one-year stay extensions such as veterans and certain job permit holders – have permission to live in the Kingdom until July 31 without contacting an immigration office or filling in some document. Thai authorities are publicly tight-lipped about what may happen afterwards. 

The next five weeks can change a lot. Thai airports are reopened, and firm flight schedules are literally up in the air. The paperwork needed for travelling in health and safety differs country by nation, as do the quarantine specifications.

Many countries also even ask travellers to "prove" that they were under self-quarantine for a week or two before going to the airport. By the end of next month, no one really hopes absolute transparency. 

The position on land border front with neighbouring countries is similarly blurry. A statement on June 5 confirmed that MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) had obtained permission from migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to remain in Thailand until July 31.

Despite substantial human traffic to and from border posts for migrants working in the construction, fisheries and other industries, tourists are banned from anywhere in the world. For example, this means that farang can not renew their visa by land, nor apply for fresh documentation at Thai embassies. 

Last April's amnesty rules included a provision to exit Thailand "within seven days" after the borders were reopened to international travellers and those who had reached Thailand by land and secured a two-week pass or boundary permit. Judging from the websites of Thailand 's neighbouring countries' embassies and legislatures, the right to fly will continue to be heavily limited far after July 31. You could count on this.

Under these conditions, it would be appropriate to declare such provisions for the duration after the present amnesty. The entire argument of actually using flexibility was to prevent crowding and confusion at local immigration offices. One proposal brought out before the end of the year is another semi-universal visa amnesty, although that is impossible to happen because it defies all security issues that are of utmost importance to the government. Not to mention a potential five months' depletion ' significant sales. Sounds impossible. 

Another suggestion would be to introduce a complex new-normal which would deal with foreigners taking advantage of the current amnesty country by country. For starters, Europeans who came by plane could be given a two-week notice to get a ticket to go home, whereas visitors who last crossed by land could be given more happiness before the border crossings reopen for both. However, it seems daunting the variety of human cases through too many nationalities, herded into a one-size-fits-all shell. Imagine those complaints. Phones will be buzzing at the embassies as never before. 

A more popular scenario could be to leave it to the client. In other terms, the visa exemption may be applied for, say, two weeks without the requirement to travel or fill up paperwork at an immigration office. Those still in Thailand after mid-August would then fall into the category of over-stay unless they paid 1,900 baht for a further one-month extension at their local immigration bureau. The expectation will be that by mid-September, the regional situation would become clearer. In an unpredictable country, this emergency plan will have to provide safeguards to stop everyone running to their immigration office on the same day. 

Another issue that needs to be clarified is the 90-day report that was unnecessary during the current amnesty for long-stay foreigners and annual extension retirees – although reports from immigration offices indicate that many reported with reasonable precaution anyway. Yes, the 90-day report is likely to be restored with all its glory, particularly now that the daily address nonsense TM30 coverage has been significantly diminished with scale. 

One step forward will be to remind those who need to submit 3 months after the previous, notional, due date during the amnesty time to do a 90-day survey. For eg, if a retired individual was expected to report on June 14 and did not do so because of the flexibility of amnesty, he or she would submit next in mid-September within the permitted time period of two weeks before or one week after the due date. 

The one thing the immigration authorities would like to stop amid all the Covid-19 pandemic 's complexities is a chaos takeover of their national offices on August 1st morning although that falls on a Sunday.

Source Pattaya News