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BORDER RUN CRACKDOWN

Thai Immigration is determined to prevent abuse of visa exceptions

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PHUKET: -- Tourists who can prove that they are genuinely staying only short-term while travelling in Thailand will be allowed to leave on “visa-runs” and re-enter the country, Immigration Commissioner Pharnu Kerdlarpphon confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

“Genuine tourists are fine. All they have to do is prove to the immigration officer at the border checkpoint that they really are tourists by presenting evidence such as their travel itinerary, hotel booking, tour bookings and any other documents to prove their travel in Thailand is genuine,” Lt Gen Pharnu said on Wednesday.

“Then they will be allowed to re-enter the country.”

Gen Pharnu clarified the focus of the new immigration regulation, which allows most foreigners to enter the country only once using visa-exempt status.

“The crackdown is all about preventing foreigners from using visa-exemptions and tourist visas to stay in Thailand and work,” Gen Pharnu said.

“We should have done this a long time ago. We have let foreigners work illegally in Thailand on tourist visas for too long. It’s time to stop them.”

The new regulation has nothing to do with ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 and the passports from Phuket that were used to board the flight, the general added.

The immigration chief was clear that from August 13 any foreigners who fail to prove that they are tourists will not be allowed to re-enter the country on visa exemption status (story here), as explained in a formal notice posted on Bangkok Immigration’s website on May 8.

“From August 13, if we suspect any foreigner of working illegally in Thailand on a tourist visa, that person will be detained and deported, even if the foreigner has not previously completed even a single visa run,” he said.

“People who are deported will be banned from re-entering Thailand for five years, not forever. After that, the foreigner may appeal to re-enter the country.

“This is what we have been doing for years with foreigners who have been deported, and any foreigner who is added to our blacklist is issued a formal notice explaining what they have done wrong.”

Gen Pharnu noted that immigration officers were ordered to give special attention to Russians, South Koreans, Vietnamese and Chinese attempting to extend their stays by completing visa runs.

Ranong Immigration Superintendent Ekkorn Bussababordin confirmed to the Gazette on May 12 that foreigners will continue to be allowed to re-enter Thailand on three consecutive “walk-in” visas until August 12.

As reported in the Gazette last week, after August 12, such foreigners risk being stranded in Myanmar (story here).

The May 8 order, posted in Thai, stated that the new rule is to come into effect at all immigration checkpoints, including airports.

“Thailand is open to all tourists,” Gen Pharnu said, “but we will not allow illegal workers. If you want to work here please do the right thing. Apply for a business visa and live here legally.”

Source: http://www.phuketgazette.net/phuket-news/Tourist-visa-runs-not-dead-Immigration-boss/29460

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-- Phuket Gazette 2014-05-16

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“From August 13, if we suspect any foreigner of working illegally in Thailand on a tourist visa, that person will be detained and deported, even if the foreigner has not previously completed even a single visa run,” he said.

“People who are deported will be banned from re-entering Thailand for five years, not forever. After that, the foreigner may appeal to re-enter the country.

Hmmm... so say someone has a bunch of VISA exempt stamps / tourist VISAs in their passport and/or an overstay, then leaves Thailand via BKK airport. If the immigration officer decides you've been here too long, they're now going to officially detain and deport you, meaning a few days in the IDC while it goes through a judge and gets processed?

Or are they just going to blacklist you for 5 years on the stop then & there, and still let you get on your flight?

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I am sure there will be more updates from "big guy" soon! They just keep changing all the time, and it is so confusing about even a "tourist" has never done visa run before and they may subjected to be deported due to immigration staff's suspicion? So about visa exempt now, does it mean it doesn't matter how many days leave the kingdom and back by air, and based on the immigration staff's judgement?

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I am sure there will be more updates from "big guy" soon! They just keep changing all the time, and it is so confusing about even a "tourist" has never done visa run before and they may subjected to be deported due to immigration staff's suspicion? So about visa exempt now, does it mean it doesn't matter how many days leave the kingdom and back by air, and based on the immigration staff's judgement?

That seems to be correct as of the 12th of August.

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5 year ban for attempting a VoA border run, hey.

What the ban for overstaying?

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"5 year ban for attempting a VoA border run, hey."

It has nothing to do with Visas on Arrival. Try to keep up.

Yes, you'll have to pardon my gutter-trash colloquialism. :D

'Visa Exemption' dear, of course. :)

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a passport dont lie...so if you have many border stamps in it..over a period of time..then i expect some questioning to see how

you have funded your stay...i think you would have to have some very good proof to stay..if the IO.. dont believe you...

i think for some it is game over...they will just be on over stay...

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"The crackdown is all about preventing foreigners from using visa-exemptions and tourist visas to stay in Thailand and work,” Gen Pharnu said."

No more back to back Tourist Visa's!

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So they have to look out in particular for Vietnamese (among others)? Are these the same Vietnamese who in 2015 when the AEC opens up, will have the right of abode and right to work in Thailand anyway?

Or does Thailand only see the opening of the AEC as the ability for its citizens to go and work in Singapore/Malaysia?

At this time I think the AEC is a distant dream for Thailand given the political situation. Perhaps the other countries should push ahead with AEC and leave the Thais to sort out their mess before they join.

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I have friends coming for 3 weeks next november. They plan to go to Laos to visit Paksé and surroundings for a couple of days. Will they be able to come back to Thailand ?

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If I have to guess, next thing they'll do is to introduce proof of income from outside of Thailand for getting a tourist visa. That would quite effectively kill the option for those illegally working here.

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I have friends coming for 3 weeks next november. They plan to go to Laos to visit Paksé and surroundings for a couple of days. Will they be able to come back to Thailand ?

Yes, of course. Just have evidence of their credible travel plans ready for a worse case scenario.

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With all these new rules coming in i think there will be a lot more people on overstay.

And that will be the next thing they will be targeting.

Either way i dont care. none of this affects me.

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So they have to look out in particular for Vietnamese (among others)? Are these the same Vietnamese who in 2015 when the AEC opens up, will have the right of abode and right to work in Thailand anyway?

Or does Thailand only see the opening of the AEC as the ability for its citizens to go and work in Singapore/Malaysia?

Dunno where you got the idea that the AEC is about free movement of peoples. It isn't.

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If I have to guess, next thing they'll do is to introduce proof of income from outside of Thailand for getting a tourist visa. That would quite effectively kill the option for those illegally working here.

Bank statement is quite easy to fake, and the people working illegally are obviously not averse to breaking the law. Then there're ED visas, too, which I'm sure can be found at discount prices for high-volume (as in, whole company) purchases.

Walking into the businesses obviously employing foreign labor and carrying out the law is, of course, too much work (plus it's hot outside!)

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If I have to guess, next thing they'll do is to introduce proof of income from outside of Thailand for getting a tourist visa. That would quite effectively kill the option for those illegally working here.

Bank statement is quite easy to fake, and the people working illegally are obviously not averse to breaking the law. Then there're ED visas, too, which I'm sure can be found at discount prices for high-volume (as in, whole company) purchases.

Walking into the businesses obviously employing foreign labor and carrying out the law is, of course, too much work (plus it's hot outside!)

Easy to fake, yes .. but currently you don't need one at all. It would deter some of the less "hard-core" illegal workers. Better than nothing and easy.

ED crackdowns are in the pipeline, I suppose. Immigration isn't that stupid, it takes like one hour to figure out all the common the loopholes. They've just tolerated it until now. I reckon the trigger now is the large amount of complaints due to the Russian invasion of last few years.

I think the immigration police simply don't have the manpower to go door to door and the local police can't really be arsed to do anything.

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It is a good and a fair policy, HOWEVER the problems will arise with immigration officers, especially at land border crossings and it will create more opportunity for corruption and bribes at the land border crossings

The Immigration Bureau's communication to officers, of which the member LawrenceN kinkly kindly gave an English translation, invites immigration officers to contact either of two named immigration commanders if they have a question about the implementation of this new directive. This will, I hope, minimise possible problems at border entry points.

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