The Thai cabinet has authorized an extension to the existing visa amnesty program, allowing foreigners on certain types of visas to remain in Thailand without any penalties until September 26th. The program also exempts long-term visa holders from their usual 90-day-reporting.
The current visa amnesty program, which had been extended before, was set to expire on July 31st. The extension of the deadline comes as a relief for hundreds of foreigners still stuck in Thailand due to COVID-19 restrictions, relying on the visa amnesty to remain safe.
Traveling back to their home countries can be perceived as dangerous by many retirees, seeing it as a potential way of contracting the virus. As Thailand is deemed relatively safe, the result of the early lockdown measures, many of those on tourist visas have opted to remain in the safety of the Kingdom.
While the Thai cabinet approval makes an extension to the visa amnesty program only a question of time, the new law needs to be published and pass through the official hoops following Thai laws and regulations. It’s anticipated that the new deadline will be published in Royal Gazzette later this week.
The full details of the new amnesty program will be released at the same publication, but the expectation is, that it will cover those included in the present program. This would include any foreigner holding a temporary stay visa for Thailand, including tourist visas, visa-exempt stamp holders, and non-O visas.
While the visa amnesty extension is alleviating worries of some foreigners, the early reports suggest it will be viewed as a grace period for visa holders to either find long-term visa options or prepare repatriation flights to their home country.
To clear the potential bottlenecks from incoming visa requests, both Chiang Mai and Bangkok Immigration Divisions have opened second locations to speed up the heavy bureaucratic process.
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