After the Thai Immigration Bureau’s Announcements for automatic visa extension back in March and April 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has been on-going and the current extensions for the visas of foreigners remaining in Thailand persists until the end of July 2020. The past extension Announcements were aimed to reduce the risks of over-crowding concerning foreigners seeking visa extensions at the Immigration Bureau. Foreigners whose Visas have already expired can stay in Thailand without penalty for their overstay until the end of July 2020.
However, there are many questions whether all type of visa holders will be covered by this Announcement or not.
According to the Announcement, this automatic extension applies to all type of visas, including Non-Immigrant Visa, Visa on Arrival, Visa-Exemption Arrival Stamp and border passes. However, with different interpretations and different practices being followed between each Immigration Office or between the Immigration Bureau and other Thai authorities, the above-mentioned Announcement may not cover some types of Visas and some situations, causing confusion among foreigners in Thailand.
One-Year Business Visa with Work Permit
Based on our discussions and experiences with Immigration Officers, foreigners holding a One-Year Business Visa with Work Permit whose Visa will expire within the extension period up to the end of July 2020, we strongly recommended to submit and duly process their Visa renewal applications at the Immigration Bureau prior to their expiry date, rather than letting their One-Year Business Visa &/or Work Permit expire and assume that the Immigration Bureau or other Thai authorities will allow you any sort of amnesty to renew your Visa or Work Permit.
It has not been confirmed (and seems very unlikely) that the Immigration will accept Visa applications from foreigner who have let their Visa expire and overstay until the end of July. It is most likely that those foreigners with expired visas will be required to leave Thailand when the lock-down is lifted and “start-over” with a new Non-Immigrant B Visa application at a Thai Embassy/Consulate outside of Thailand, risking significant complications and personal disruptions before they can renew their Business Visa with Work Permit compliance.
Follow up One-Year Visa Renewal Result
Foreigners whose One-Year Visa renewal application is under consideration are still required to go to the Immigration Bureau to follow up concerning the results of their One-Year Visa renewal application on the appointment date, otherwise the renewal application will be automatically cancelled.
Foreigners who are due for 90-Day Reporting between 1 May and 31 July 2020 are also exempted from normal reporting during this period. However, with different interpretations and different practices
between each Immigration Office, we recommend to our clients who hold One-Year Business Visas to submit their 90-Day Report, as usual. The 90-Day Report online system is still working as normal. And for those who prefer manual submission of their 90-Day Report Form, the Immigration Office still remains open, and the process is currently very fast because there are relatively few foreigners visiting the Immigration Bureau during this period.
Work Permit Renewal
Regarding the Work Permit, the Ministry of Labour neither have any announcement for automatic extension nor any policy to renew Work Permit for foreigners whose Visa has expired. Therefore, even though a foreigner can currently allow their Visa to expire under the Immigration Announcement, the Ministry of Labour is not renewing Work Permits for foreigners who have allowed their Visa to expire.
We strongly recommend that all foreigners pro-actively plan ahead to make sure they prepare themselves well in advance of the end of the July 2020 extension period, to avoid the risk of costly unexpected fines, significant complications and personal disruptions when they wish to re-establish their Business Visa and Work Permit compliance.