Visitors and tourists trapped in Thailand get no relief from new rules

Published:  3 Apr at 6 PM
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Thailand has now made it even harder for foreigners trapped in the country to comply with visa requirements.

As expats living in Thailand shudder at the thought of a threatened 24/7 curfew, visitors and tourists trapped in the country are now under even stricter measures when applying for extensions due to their inability to leave. Nine documents are now required for an extension to a tourist visa, several of which may be impossible to obtain. As well as the usual forms, the TM7 application now requires a certificate from applicants’ embassies, a copy of a rental contract, another document confirming the stay at the stated accommodation, a copy of the landlord’s ID card and house registration, photographs of the applicant at the accommodation and a map showing its exact location. In addition, the landlord must accompany the tenant to the immigration office. According to a spokesperson from Immigration, the reason behind the requirements is a matter of national security.

At the present time, a large number of visitors and tourists are still in Thailand, having entered via visa-free or extendable tourist visas. Many prefer to stay in rental/BnB accommodation rather than hotels, but many more stay in short-let condos owned by overseas investors or previous full-time expat residents who’ve repatriated to their home countries. Obviously, none of these absentee landlords would be able to accompany their short-term, now trapped tenants to immigration, nor would non-Thai resident landlords living overseas have a Thai ID card as these are not available to expats. For many foreigners, obtaining a certificate from their country’s embassy could also spur problems, as tourists who visit more far-flung destinations within Thailand may have issues in first finding and later travelling to their nearest embassy, especially if it’s in another province now closed to travellers.

Even for those who manage to comply with all the new requirements, being cooped up in crowded immigration offices at close quarters with hundreds of other confused foreigners is against the distancing rule and, at worst, could result in a spike of covid-19 infections.
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