Hope springs eternal for expats and visitors trapped in Thailand

Published:  17 Jul at 6 PM
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Expats trapped in Thailand and threatened with deportation on the expiry of the visa amnesty are waiting with bated breath after several local English language media outlets suggested there’s now hope for another extension.

Thousands of business travellers, tourists and expatriates whose visas had expired during Thailand’s strict lockdowns have been stuck in the country for months, unable to leave due to border closures and an almost total lack of international flights. Yesterday’s flight listings from Bangkok’s international airport showed two international flights and a host of cancelled routes, leaving the trapped expatriates with no way to leave should a further extension not be forthcoming. Many would also be locked out of their home countries due to the pandemic, leaving them homeless and stateless in practice.

The present visa amnesty runs out at the end of this month, with speculation rising as rumours spread. One Phuket-based expat newspaper is reporting a regular government briefing as mentioning that ‘relevant agencies are drafting and reviewing a proposal for a further extension ‘. The briefing also announced those affected should wait for further announcements from Thailand’s immigration authority.

Coincidentally or not, social media posts are noting the Chiang Mai immigration office has just reopened its spacious former facility based in a shopping mall, sparking speculation that the venue will be used to cope with the anticipated rush to get visa extension stamps. Should the Thai government relax its stance on this issue and allow the trapped expats time for the system to normalise, international flights to resume and world countries to open their borders, the move would improve its international reputation and encourage visitors to return when the pandemic has had its day.
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