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Expat Confusion On Visa Run  Deadline

Expat Confusion On Visa Run Deadline

Monday, June 30, 2014
PHUKET: Visa runners face the risk of becoming stranded outside Thailand with what appears to be the official announcement of a potentially broader border crackdown from August 12.

In a letter dated June 23 from Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all embassies and consulates and international organisations in Thailand, officials warn that ''as of August 12 2014 onwards, Thai Immigration Bureau will commence prohibiting visa runners from entering into Thailand.''

The letter, in English and employing elaborate prose, says ''with reference to the recent news about Thai Immigration bureau clamping down on visa runners, [the ministry] has the honor to inform the latter [international organisations in Thailand] that the above measure, which has been strictly implemented, is aimed to prevent visa runners who abuse the visa exemption scheme from working illegally in Thailand.''

The letter appears to be implementing a blanket ban on all visa runs, but that could be an oversimplification.

It goes on to say: ''The purpose of the scheme is for tourism only. At present, once a visa runner case has been found, Thai Immigration Bureau would take measures of warning and giving (sic) advice for proper visas.

''However, as of August 12 2014 onwards, Thai Immigration Bureau will commence prohibiting visa runners from entering into Thailand.

''The Ministry therefore encourages all Diplomatic/Consular Missions and International Organisations to advise/publicise their citizens or those wishing to enter into Thailand for other purposes to obtain the appropriate visas prior to their arrival.''

What's not clear at this stage is whether the crackdown now applies to tourists already in Thailand who are currently entitled to short visa extensions by making a visa run or whether it now means all extensions are banned.

Phuket is a prime source of visa runners both among genuine tourists and non-genuine tourists.

Many people arrive on Phuket as tourists and then stay on to work as timeshare touts or in other roles that are often borderline occupations.

These ''working tourists'' once were able to renew their tourist entry stamp with periodic trips by minivan to border posts such as Ranong, on the Thai-Burma border, where they would cross briefly to Victoria Point in Burma before reentering Thailand and returning to Phuket.

Others cross briefly into Malaysia, on Thailand's southern border. Some people lived on Phuket for years making frequent visa runs - until recently when a clampdown limited visa runs to two extensions.

According to recent reports, at least one southern border crossing has also been asking for proof of a long-standing law that foreigners entering Thailand must be able to prove to Immigration officials that they have access to additional funds as required under existing but seldom-implemented laws as follows:

.. People entering on a tourist visa exemption or visa-on-arrival must show they have access to at least 10,000 baht per person or 20,000 per family.

.. People entering on a tourist visa or non-immigrant visa issued at a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate must show they have access to at least 20,000 baht per person or 40,000 baht per family.

A more precise account of the scale of the crackdown is expected from Immigration officials on Tuesday.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Why is there confusion?????

If you are a tourist no problems. If you you are a conman i.e. time share tout apply for the legitimate visa.

Confusion solved!!!!!!!

Posted by Ben K on July 1, 2014 00:58

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What about those with Non Imm B and work permits who still need to leave every 90 days? I hope more clear information arrives soon.

Posted by Tbs on July 1, 2014 01:50

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Why is there confusion ??

For those who do not, and have no intention of breaking the labor laws, do not work here, and have assets enough to not work. What defines a tourist ??

Where is the line between someone who stays in Thailand repeatedly and often, and someone who visits Thailand ??

There needs to be a precise, clear, legal definition.. Not the whim of some officer depending on his mood that day.

Posted by LivinLOS on July 1, 2014 07:26

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This is about 2 things:
1. back to back visa exempt entries will not be accepted anymore;
2. prevention of people living (and possibly working) here in tourist visas.

Posted by stevenl on July 1, 2014 09:34

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It is very easy livinLOS to understand the requierments, please do not take this as an attack just trying to help. Look at these two links from the MFA website. The whole site has great information about who is allowed in and under what criteria with reference to the appropriate laws. No guess work need: http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/123/15398-Issuance-of-Visa.html
http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/123/15405-General-information.html

If you look at the thaivisa and other sites you get misinformation. If you go to a law office they will give you advice for a fee. If you do not fall under any of these catagories then go and talk with a real lawyer that can instruct you on getting a proper visa for your own situation.

Posted by jiminkata on July 1, 2014 09:42

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Personally this will only deter genuine tourists from coming here, if they want to extend their holiday as other Asian countries do not have this policy. Correct law enforcement is the key, which undeniably we have seen a lack of over the years. For example those which not just work, but profit from the proceeds of work must comply with the law by virtue of a work permit. Therefore the 'tea-money' behavior of accepting bribes to look the other way must end.

Posted by reader on July 1, 2014 10:53

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i lived in thailand 4 years not working just recovering from an illness and did the visa runs. it became a pain going so often so i just didnt and overstayed the last 18 months, when i left the country had to pay a 20,000 baht fine and no one cared so long as i paid it.

Posted by boram on July 1, 2014 11:01

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What would be suggested for my case?

I'm a 40 year old off shore worker, living in phuket.
After every 6 weeks working, I'm 6 weeks on holiday.
Until now I did my visa run after every 30th day, and had just enough with a 14 day stamp.
I have my official documents and pay slips from my company which proofs that I don't need to work in Thailand, I have my official adres and bank account so everything can be showed to the border officers. I've been doing this for the last 3 years, but should I start to worry now because of these new rules???
Thanks

Posted by Peter on July 1, 2014 12:49

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No more " visa " runs? Does this include the 90 day border stamp runs that legitimate working foreigners must make? Please amend the rules; anyone with a work permit should get one year to stay. It is completely absurd to ask business owners with 4 workers to leave every 90 days as I was just told I must do as my application to extend by one year was refused by Phuket Immigration. The company "does not make enough profit.." Is this really a rule? When I asked my accountant how to investigate and perhaps complain, she advised against it "they are mafia and will kill you.."
More ridiculous fear mongering to go with the general harassment.
The message is clear, foreigners are not welcome to reside, only as tourists to prop up the illegal prostitution industry or as spouses in order to hand over assets to Thais.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 1, 2014 12:53

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I think that Visa runs should still be allowed however you have to show the money was in your account before you came to Thailand and say a minimum of 30,000Baht per month therefore you want to stay 4 months you need 120,000Baht etc. When this money is finished you must leave for three months and so the same. This is only for Tourists. Non-Immigrant/Work Permits totally different. Are people merely going to switch to double/triple entry Visas and work?

Posted by Fiesty Farang on July 1, 2014 13:52

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@Boram and if you were asked for ID or involved in an accident or a dispute you would have been deported. At 1500 per Visa Run you saved around 7000Baht (approx. 200USD) and might have a ban to enter Thailand. Was it worth it. Also many countries ask if you were ever deported etc when applying for their Visa.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on July 1, 2014 14:06

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"Does this include the 90 day border stamp runs that legitimate working foreigners must make?"
No, this is about tourist visa and visa exempt entries

@ Peter: you're living here, so should have/apply for a non-immigrant visa.

Posted by stevenl on July 1, 2014 15:11

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Clever foreigners willing to avoid the hassle to renew visa at border prefer to set up a ???Ghost Thai Company????? with Thai nominees as shareholders and get no problem to get Visa (B) with rogue accounting or lawyer offices.

Within 2-3 weeks and 40,000 Baht you have a legal Thai company and a work-permit and many foreigners are using that way to stay and work in Thailand.

Those foreigners have legal companies set up with forged official documents to declare their Thai nominee partners and assets.

They should have investigated much more deeply whether or not all companies employing those foreigners are operating according to Thai law such as:
1/- If they have true Thai partners (51% for a Thai company or 70% in the case a Thai company is owning a transport boat/ dive boat). In that case the company must have the proof of payments with bank statements from those Thai partners that they are not sitting-partners as Thai nominees as it is in most of the case with foreign-owned dive centers.
2/- If they have enough invested capital (1 up to 2 Million Baht per work-permit depending of Limited Partnership or Company Limited) to get the issuance of a valid work-permit.
2/- If they have true 2 Thai Directors for 1 alien Director and not 2 Thai nominees as Thai Directors.
3/- If they have proof of full payments of monthly salaries to Thai staff declared on the company. The ratio official in Thailand to get a work-permit is 4 Thais for 1 foreigner for a Company Limited and 2 Thais for 1 foreigner for a Limited Partnership. Ratio is divided by half if the foreigners is legally married with a Thai spouse.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 1, 2014 18:18

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Whistle blower,
I believe your information is mistaken, a Work Permit requires only one Thai worker, however you will only get 90 days per entry. Four workers are required for a one year permission to stay. However the other criteria for such permission is increasingly difficult to obtain.

Time for me to move on and regard the investment in Thailand as a foolish mistake.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 1, 2014 19:19

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@Christy Sweet

Since when investment in SME(or probably that what is called micro-enterprise in EU law) should provide off the owner long-stay permit?

What Whistleblower is talking, is that those incentives for (small-scale) foreign investment do not serve its purpose, as are used more often night bring sheer investment, but just easier immigration procedures.

And, to be honest, nowadays Thailand doesn't really white-collar middle-/top-management expat cadres in big numbers, there has been grown a generation with an appropriate credentials.
Same for SME foreign investment, Thailand is not in the sand acute need for that as it was many years ago,
But for genuine investment the door is open and incentives are in place.

Posted by Sue on July 1, 2014 20:00

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Sue,
One year is not the definition of "long stay." It is reasonable B ( for business) visa length for a small business owner employing 4 Thai workers, paying social security and income taxes.
90 days is not.
Last year I didn't have enough income to qualify for a one year extension, this year- not enough profit. Seems the rules and goal posts move so as to deny the extension according to that officer's whim. I'm told the profit rule does not exist.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 1, 2014 21:31

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@Christy Sweet

And one more thing:

Economy of Thailand doesn't need investments that create unskilled/low-skilled jobs, such investments are not only unnecessary, but even more - they are harmful:
there is virtually no unemployment in Thailand - it's rate fluctuates around 1% - thanks to "pad-thai" structure of economy, where major part is unproductive labour-intensive jobs.
There are too many unskilled/low-skilled jobs in Thailand, of which 3M jobs are filled with migrant labour from Myanmar-Cambodia-Laos.

At the same time, because of wide-spread corruption, Thai labour market malfunctions and favour not meritocracy, but whom-you-know approach in doing business, that depreciate education and youth do not see a lot of value in it.

What Thailand needs are such foreign investment that create jobs - and accordingly demand for local white-collars. Then it would facilitate higher productivity and value added, and consequently higher income over capita , and reducing black hole of unskilled jobs.

Unfortunately, what the scheme incentivize in reality today exactly creating by foreigners generic next-door-restaurant and other trivial businesses with unskilled/low-skilled jobs , on top of that filling these jobs with migranti laboor - all these foreign investment being absolutely at best unnecessary for the country.

Thailand economy will have to undergo structural changes in coming years, ASEAN is protagonist of such changes, to reduce number of jobs in that sector, introduce new technologies, move investments into another industries etc. And as any changes they can be painful.

I don't know what kind of jobs your investment create here , most probably again - unskilled/low-skilled job(s)...- but longstay visa in exchange of company's ownership is just bonus, it is not a regular immigration solution. Regular solution that you have a job.
I met on BVI one ownerless of local hotel, who has Canadian passport - so her ownership (and it is not small hotel) didn't provide her with any preferential treatment for visa: she just got as every Canadian up to 180 days of stay per year there, unless she will have a job - and job not in her hotel . But jobs for her were available only on neighbor island - that means 2hrs in transit daily - so she adapted to a situation that she can spend only 6 months in her own hotel per year , such are immigration rules.

Posted by Sue on July 1, 2014 21:48

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@ Christy Sweet
Rat fled the boat.
anyway where will be your farewell?

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 1, 2014 21:59

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@ Sue
Thank you.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 1, 2014 22:58

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Got my visas at Thai General consulate today. Place never been so empty.

Posted by Lena on July 2, 2014 01:22

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@Christy Sweet

A role of investor/owner doesn't require a physical presence, a role of manager/director does.

The fact is there are incentives in Thailand for SME owners for a lomg stay (of course, 1 year IS a long stay - anything over 180 days per year is a long stay, as then one spend his time predominantly in one country, with possible consequences that it will be considered his domicile - and hence a place of tax residency), but it is not what Thailand really needs today -as I described above.

Lack of capable government/parliament during so many years led to the situation that many policies are not updated or laws are not adopted.

Overall, not many countries provides for SME longstay immigration benefits, so what Thailand offer even in a current form obviously should be appreciated, not ranted.

Posted by Sue on July 2, 2014 03:29

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Do you think thai people only "like" farang if we are buying land and millions of baht. If you find only your money is welcome move to Malaysia, Penang. 90 day visa, and the dynamic of malay, Indian, Chinese civilisation

Posted by John on July 2, 2014 13:14

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Sue,
I have followed the law to the letter, and actually pay workers over twice the minimum wage. They are trained to care for horses in a competent and compassionate manner and I can tell you, that is a definite skill lacking in Thailand. If Thailand has now deemed my investment and even my presence to be worthless, one could not be blamed to be disappointed that with all the dozens of times I have provided my address, I could have been informed by mail of any new changes to rules that would affect me, and would be given more that the 15 days left on my visa ( at the time) to divest myself of three business years of work and investment.
That's what a mature government would do in regards to foreign, investing residents.
The fact is there has been no such change to the rules, it is an arbitrary, personal decision by one immigration officer that leaves me with no right of recourse.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 2, 2014 20:54

Editor Comment:

As a constant critic of virtually everything Thai, perhaps you're better off somewhere else.

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Ed, regardless of your personal opinion of me, as Immigration behaves unprofessionally constantly- apparently if one reads the local forums, perhaps there is much to complain about.
Did I tell you about the fake horse doctor allowed to practice with impunity? Or having police tell me my life was in danger if I did not accept an absurdly small settlement from the father of a 13 yo on a motorcycle who rear ended my car?
I could write a book of criticisms based on my personal experiences, in fact I think I will, tentatively titled LIELAND.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 3, 2014 12:53

Editor Comment:

I don't have a personal opinion of you but I don't rate your comments highly because they're inevitably so negative. Objectivity means putting your experiences in a broader context and balancing cynicism with accuracy. You never do.

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I find this very confusing. When I had a NON IMM B and Work Permit, I never did any visa runs. I used to report every 90 to Immigration, who stamped my page and said see you next 90 days time? Why do some people have to do boarder runs with a NON IMM B and Work Permit? In my eight years of working did I miss something?

Posted by Duncan B on July 3, 2014 17:44

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I have been staying in Chiang mai, where I have a small apartment. .most of my stays here have been for a short period, as i had been working FIFO rosters in Australia. Anyway 9 months ago whilst here in thai my Aust. employment.
contract was terminated.

I had done repeated trips to Mae Sai border (4) then flew to KL and back then another 4 Mae Sai border crossing.
All very legitimate as regard existing laws.

Anyway i flew out to KL on June 25, and then when on return to Chiang mai on the 26th June, i was detained by immigration at airport.

The supposed date of 12th August 2014 for implementing the new rules, is not correct. Immigration was not prepared to allow me into the country until i signed a typed letter that i would leave Thailand on 25th July 2014 and not return without first obtaining the appropriate visa. in addition immigration have written on my passport not to be granted a 30 day visa on arrival.

Rather than abusing the system, i was using the system to obtain the most cost effective means of staying on in my apartment in chiang mai whilst searching the internet for another FIFO position.

The fact that i own my apartment was irrelevant.

Posted by Gareth on July 4, 2014 06:13

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@Gareth

You were living in Thailand on tourist visas and possible visa exempt entries. As the name already indicates, all meant for tourists, not for people living here. If living here you need a non-immigrant visa.

Posted by stevenl on July 4, 2014 10:07

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@ stevenl
It is not a Non-Immigrant Visa but a Retirement Visa (0)

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 4, 2014 11:46

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@ WB: get your facts straight. It is a non-immigrant visa and extension based on retirement.

Posted by stevenl on July 4, 2014 13:24

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Ed,
If my negative experiences outweigh the positive, then it is expected I will comment as such.
I think it it is apparent independent persons are actually not welcome to conduct business in Thailand, particularly those with majority share in Amity Treaty companies.
The laws and rules are made up,(literally in some cases) for foreigners to support whole Thai families while opening themselves up to having their assets plundered.
Allow me to further say, not sure who is making these PW Ed responses but if Thai than you really cannot know the difficulties, and if foreign then I submit having a Thai partner is somewhat insular of the more negative realities.

Posted by Christy Sweet on July 5, 2014 12:54

Editor Comment:

Most people have both good and bad experiences in different proportions but to only relate the bad is clearly biased reporting. If you've never had positive experiences . . . well, it may be you are only capable of negative thinking. There are no conspiracies in Thailand but there is paranoia aplenty.

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Seems clear enough to me! The crackdown is obviously for those doing border runs WITHOUT obtaining visas. Reading anything else into it, is just wild speculation and should be kept for forums such as Thai Visa :-)

Posted by agogohome on July 6, 2014 15:55

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Anyone would think Thailand doesn't want foreigners to stay and spend money..what a horrible visa system I think Cambodia and Philippines will gain big time from these bad visa policys

Posted by Andrew Ronayne on July 8, 2014 15:29

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Time to live else where thailand becoming way unfriendly cambodia welcomes falungs

Posted by shame on July 13, 2014 11:37

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I'm someone who has been in Thailand for the last 5 years but don't work here (too young for a retirement visa but am already retired). So tourist visas were the way I managed to spend 10 months of the year here.

Now these new laws are coming into effect. No problem. I'll just move back to France. I'm sure they'll love having my 4,000 euros a month.

Love to see Thailand shoot itself in the foot. Economy is already collapsing, so let's stop people spending extended time here and spending money here. A country run by fools obviously.

Posted by Simone on July 14, 2014 21:16

Editor Comment:

Simone, money is not the issue. Many of the people who are abusing the system - ''rorting'' the system is the Aussie word - are lacklustre types who don't have your solid appreciation for spending money. But, come to think of it, money is not what it's about. Until there's a morals test for entry, we will all still have to abide by the law for a change. Sorry, Simone.

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@Simone

Just some food for your thoughts: if you stay in the Kingdom 10 months per year, then you definitely are considered to be tax resident of the Kingdom, and should pay here income tax, regardless where you got your income, incl. income from capital.
You may be regarded by some other country, in which you gain your income, as a tax resident, but if this country does not have double taxation avoidance treaty (and e.g. France like most of Europe doesn't have), then you anyway will be taxed to full extent in the Kingdom.

Once Thai tax inspection will start to ask questions, it will go all the standard way of tax assessment, and that can be pretty tough, say like in Germany or US - as laws are virtually the same, and, when they want, Thais can apply laws very precisely and without fault.

Posted by Sue on July 14, 2014 21:37

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As a tourist in would be impossible to see all of Thailand in ten years. So any strict tourist laws will only deter people to come to Thailand as there are plenty of other country's that want the dollar, pound and euro . Many people are living in Thailand on tourist visas and are actually in defacto relationships with a Thai lady and generally they would spend anywhere up to about 500000 bart a year on the family if they stop these defacto relationships then many Thai lady's and family's will have no money , so is the government going to support these Thai lady's with farang defacto husbands or have they not considered the full consequences and do not understand why farang's go on the tourist visa. Many farang's will not put money into a Thai bank because you cannot transfer it back to your own country easily , so the tourist visa works very well for defacto relationships.

You may find tourism drops a lot , so my advice to Thailand is do not through the baby out with the bathwater as the Thai economy loves tourism. The rumour is that visa on arrival will increase to 60 days and if the thinking is that this will help replace the tourist visa run , it will not as most holidayer's come for a Holiday of 2 to four weeks . The tourist visa run suits long term farang stay who have defacto relationships which Thailand seems to refuse to acknowledge which is strange for country that is free an easy in every other relationship.

Posted by Graham Spilcker on August 7, 2014 07:59

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i like to come and stay in Chiangmai for about four months every year, I did a visa run yesterday to Myanmar, how many will they allow me to do? I go home on the 1st March would it help if I took proof of this and proof of finances

Posted by Malcolm on November 13, 2014 17:40


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