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BANGKOK 23 May 2019 10:49
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Visa Overstay Issues Causes Confusion

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Visa overstay issues causes confusion

UK Foreign Office confirm tougher policy

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The Chong Mek border crossing from Thailand

into Laos outside Ubon Ratchathani. File photo.

The cover story in the first edition of Pattaya One (published 1 October this year), which noted a tougher line being taken by Immigration officials with foreigners who had overstayed their visas by 42 days or more, created quite a stir, and not a little confusion.

A simple reading of the travel advisory posted on the website of the British Foreign Office confirms our version. British embassy officials, as all major foreign missions do, have close connections within Thai government circles and at some point have amended their travel advisory based on advice received from senior Thai sources.

The British Foreign Office travel advisory reads as follows:

If you stay in Thailand for longer than the time authorised on your arrival, and you do not have an extension of stay or a valid visa, then this is an offence under Thai Immigration law. You will be fined 500 baht per day for every day you over- stay, excluding the first day, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. Any foreigner found by the authorities to have overstayed their visa is also at risk of being held in detention, fined and deported at their own expense. The Thai authorities have stated they will always en- force detention of overstays for more than 42 days.

As with many stories of this nature, the information Pattaya One presented was quickly taken out of context and turned into something other than the sum of its parts. While the sub-heading read ‘jail time for foreigners’, there appears to have been an assumption the ‘jail time’ meant people with overstays of 42 days or more were going to find themselves before a court where they would then be sentenced to a long stay (months or even a couple of years) behind bars in a correctional facility. This is incorrect. The only overstaying foreigners who can spend up to the maximum of two years inside the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok are those who simply don’t have the money to pay the fine and purchase an air ticket in order to leave. They are arrested, spend a night or two behind bars, face court, are fined and then sent to the IDC.

In most cases where an overstayer has the 20,000 baht fine and money to purchase an air ticket they can be held for as little as two days banged up behind a securely locked door. In Pattaya, if one has sufficient funds it is possible to avoid the IDC and instead merely spend a couple of nights in a cell, pay the fine imposed by the court and then arrange to be taken directly to the airport and leave the country. The jails of Thailand are already filled to the gunwales and the last thing they need is a steady stream of more foreigners, who have the cash to get out, clogging up the facilities.

With a change at the top of the Immigration ladder, the new broom had allegedly decided to really start sweeping a murky floor, and issued instructions to start detaining people. This simply meant there was a greater chance of long-term overstayers (that is, 42 days or more) being detained and held in jail cells until formalities were sorted to the satisfaction of the authorities.

Pattaya One is aware of two British nationals who overstayed beyond the 42 days limit and were subsequently detained. Both of these cases occurred in the past six weeks or so. One of these men managed to get away with just two days in holding cells before being able to leave the country. While two days might not sound a very long time, we at Pattaya One doubt there are many readers who fancy spending 48-hours or more languishing in a typically overcrowded, hot and humid Thai prison cell where room service tends to leave a lot to be desired.

Anyone who bothered to read the story closely would have realised we were at pains to make it clear that Immigration officials are not mindless automatons and in extenuating circumstances it is possible for people to avoid spending any time at all behind bars. What the authorities are particularly aiming at are those people who have intentionally overstayed their visas and believe they can simply waltz through the formalities of paying a fine without consequence.

Equally, at no point did Pattaya One ever claim there had been a change in the law or the penalties had become harsher. The law remains as originally enshrined in legislation. Section 81 of the 1979 Immigration Act states quite clearly that any foreigner who stays in Thailand, ‘without permission or with permission expired or revoked shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding 20,000 Baht or both.’

One completely erroneous piece posted by another Pattaya publication claimed an unnamed senior Immigration officer said foreigners could overstay for up to one year without risk of arrest. Perhaps the Immigration officer is blissfully unaware of his own laws.

Other publications around the country sought advice from local Immigration officials, who stated there had been no change in enforcement of the relevant laws. Even the Australian mission in Thailand has indicated it does not intend to upgrade its travel advice, stating foreigners on overstay are still being allowed to leave Suvarnabhumi airport after paying fines. They did not indicate whether the overstayers had exceeded the 42-day limit.

It is hardly likely that senior officers in the Thai Immigration Department are going to allow the English language media to be privy to their internal workings. Equally, it may well be that in some jurisdictions the overstay law is not being enforced to its full extent as requested by the head office in Bangkok. Once again, this may well be because the situation precludes the need for detention, or simply because this is Thailand and the left hand is willing to get down and dirty while the right hand plays with itself.

Of the huge number of tourists who come to Thailand and the large community of expats who live here, a very small percentage overstay a valid visa for any extended length of time. The majority of tourists and expats adhere to their visa regulations and never have to worry about being arrested and detained for breaking Thai law.

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-- Pattaya One 2010-10-13

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Sounds like alot of back tracking on P1 part. also the fact they have started to criticize there reader base, i will certainly be avoiding there news at all cost not that i have even bothered to read anything bar what was said in tv about the overstay! I left bangkok last week with 6 months overstay and nothing was even said or done, when asking the officials they hadnt arrested anyone or new of a tighter policy change!

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Why does TV keep assisting in this cover up by Pattaya One?

The people at PO have not answered any of the posts by TV readers in the past 3 or 4 threads on this Headlline Scam!

In fact TV has refused to link all these threads.

Give us Truth or some respect please!!!!!!!!!!

Link the threads and Ask what came first the headline???

Or the Fake warning after the headline???

Mods please WE rely on TV for Real News not selling ads for go go bars like PO does!

Edited by IAMSOBAD

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Sounds like alot of back tracking on P1 part. also the fact they have started to criticize there reader base, i will certainly be avoiding there news at all cost not that i have even bothered to read anything bar what was said in tv about the overstay! I left bangkok last week with 6 months overstay and nothing was even said or done, when asking the officials they hadnt arrested anyone or new of a tighter policy change!

Really? Could you please post a copy of your airline ticket and overstay receipt? A redacted copy if necessary.

Thanks.

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Hopefully I am not taking the title of this article out of context:

[Visa overstay issues causes confusion]

What is so confusing about this law? Step-by-step:

Arrive and receive a stamp with a date on it.

That date arrives.

Pack up and leave.

No issues....

Edited by Griffin09

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UK Foreign Office please tell us who at immigration in Thailand gave YOU this warning?

Or did you get it from Howard Miller?

He IS the Honorary Consul in Pattaya for the UK and IS the Pattaya One boss!

Just name one name with rank and office of this immigration official issuing this Headline worthy news story?????????

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Maybe it's time to require passing a reading comprehension test as a visa requirement? The law is quite simple, obey it or accept the consequences.

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I dont undestand. We are in another country, if we want to stay here we have to respect the law here.

I had overstay 1 time because i was sick and only 5 days, the immigration extendet my visa, after i showed them paper from the doctor, and i did not even pay any thing.

It os fine with me to put farang in hotel hilton for 2 years, this way they can learn this country have laws too, even many goverment people not follow the law that does not give us the right to break the law.

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I find it sad that TV has chosen P1 as its partner.

As already stated here and on other boards HM seems to flit around answering what he deems necessary while constantly ignoring repeat VALID questions posted by board members.

I have enjoyed reading many of the forums that TV offers and have done so for many years but if forced to read thread after thread relating to the poor quality of P1's posts/news then I will soon become bored.

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Sounds like alot of back tracking on P1 part. also the fact they have started to criticize there reader base, i will certainly be avoiding there news at all cost not that i have even bothered to read anything bar what was said in tv about the overstay! I left bangkok last week with 6 months overstay and nothing was even said or done, when asking the officials they hadnt arrested anyone or new of a tighter policy change!

They keep opening their mouths to change feet. The more they say the deeper the .... hit-the-fan.gif

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OK, Lets look at this in reality. When doing his Hon Consul training, Howard found this obscure but legitimate law, and thought "Oh what a good one to launch my PO/TV newspaper". And why not, in his Journalist hat, he is here to sell newspapers. And what better that a "Shock Jock" headline, that is reality affects so few people that it in not a blip on Immigrations normal daily routine. So why sweat it.

Don't you all remember the First Issue headline from "Pattaya Times" which was then proved untrue. And so important at the time, but now not remembered by any of us. It was another "Immigration Blockbuster" - That is all I remember. But it was another The Sky is Falling "Shock Jock" headline that faded away.

Now, Howard, if you wish to SELL newspapers, tell us where to BUY it, as I cannot find an issue in any shop that I try.

PS: I like Howard and he tries to do a good job, but people love to gang up on him, no matter what he does. Stick with it, Howard! :jap:

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Hopefully I am not taking the title of this article out of context:

[Visa overstay issues causes confusion]

What is so confusing about this law? Step-by-step:

Arrive and receive a stamp with a date on it.

That date arrives.

Pack up and leave.

No issues....

Or get a visa extension at immigration. You pay you play!

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Maybe it's time to require passing a reading comprehension test as a visa requirement? The law is quite simple, obey it or accept the consequences.

Spot on. It's all a bit of a non-story really. Why should the populace at large have to spend it's time reading articles explaining how much trouble wrongdoers will be in depending on their level of indiscretion? Surely it's a matter for the individual who decides to, or discover he has broken the law to research his own way out of the mess!

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