Thailand visa crackdown causes fear and confusion
|Published:||17 Jul at 6 PM|
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Formerly, many longer-stay tourists and expats in the kingdom were allowed to make regular border runs to Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia to top up their visitor visas. Short-stay tourists wishing to visit attractions such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat also used border crossings for a two or three day visit, returning to Thailand to continue their holidays.
The crackdown, announced by the military government in late May, was expected to begin on 12 August and involve visitors arriving by air as well as by land. In reality, longer-stayers on tourist visas have been refused re-entry or told they cannot leave the country at most border crossings for several weeks to date.
The reason given for the crackdown was to apprehend foreigners using tourist visas to work illegally in the country and to reduce crime, but it’s already proving problematic for expats who work abroad regularly and return to their Thai families during breaks from work. There is no specific visa which deals with, for example, expat oil workers on a month-on, month-off shift pattern, with most using back-to-back tourist visas acceptable for years.
Thailand’s numerous immigration offices are now stating that, should an officer believe a foreigner is not a genuine tourist, he or she will be refused entry, especially if the passport has an unusual number of border stamps. Tourists arriving by air after 12 August on either 30 or 15-day visa-free entries will be expected to apply in advance for a 60-day tourist visa at their home country’s Thai consular offices should they wish to stay longer.
However, confusing reports state that foreigners with correct visas are also being refused re-entry, and local forums are crammed with requests for clarification by worried tourists and expats. Businesses in the tourism industry fear that the confusion will negatively affect the number of visitors to the kingdom.
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The new policy is problematic for people who have used tourist visas to stay in Thailand while freelancing for clients in other countries. One solution for those people could be to accept employment for a Thai company while working with their usual clients. For example: http://iglu.in.th/work/