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Back from Burma, visa runners queue at the Ranong Immigration office

Phuket Visa Runs to Ranong End: Immigration Crackdown Drops Tourist Renewals to a Trickle

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
PHUKET: Once a busy place for visa runners, the number of tourists extending their trips to Thailand by visiting the border port of Ranong has dwindled by 90 percent to five or six people a day, an Immigration official said today.

The officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that no companies now do visa runs to Ranong from Phuket.

Once, Ranong was the most popular visa run from Phuket because it was just a life-threatening hurtle along the highway and back, all in a day.

Real tourists extending their stay in Thailand continue to be welcome - but they need to carry 20,000 baht in cash and their return ticket out of Thailand to prove they are genuine.

The officer told Phuketwan today: ''The policy of the government is aimed at tourists who stay in Thailand and work illegally on tourist visas. In the past, people have been allowed too much leniency.

''Real tourists are fine. We are checking individuals who ask for single-entry or tourist-entry visas.

''If people come to Ranong and they have stayed in Thailand for three years by repeating visa runs on a tourist visa, that will be it.

''If foreigners are married to a Thai or on retirement visas, there is no problem.''

The crackdown on visas is accompanied by harsher penalties and proposed blacklists for overstayers, so going underground on Phuket or in Thailand is being made more difficult.

Phuketwan's travel expert says the system presently allows two kinds of visas that should cater to people such as fly-out, fly-in oil rig workers who are employed overseas, but living in Thailand in between shifts.

Visa on Arrival, Single Entry

THE SINGLE ENTRY visa is for three months, but the stamp at the airport on arrival is for only the first two months. A visit to Phuket City Immigration headquarters will enable a tourist to extend for the extra month.

Once the full three months has been used, anyone who wants to stay longer must fly to an overseas city where there's a Thai embassy. They will be granted another three months, and on arrival the stamp will again specify two months, with a third month available on a visit to Phuket City Immigration headquarters.

Six Months Multiple Entry

A SIX MONTH multiple entry visa holder will again be stamped with just two months at Phuket International Airport Immigration. The holder must then travel twice to Ranong or another border to activate the next two months. Once that's been done twice, the holder has to leave Thailand and repeat the process.

With no visa runs now operating to Ranong from Phuket, travellers must go instead to Tammarang in Satun province, on the Thai-Malaysia border.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Firstly you have all the terms and language wrong - Visa on arrival single entry? Visa on arrival is valid for 19 countries and it allows them to enter Thailand for 30 / 15 days only without turning up at the border with a visa - there is no such thing as a Visa on arrival / single entry. There is of course a single entry tourist visa which you apply for at a embassy or consulate.

Then there is a double entry tourist visa - there is no such thing as a 6 month multiple entry visa. This is valid for 2 entries into Thailand - There is also a triple entry tourist visa which with extensions etc can be used for up to 9 months.

However you must note that there are many reports now of people with tourist visas being denied entry too.

Posted by Ciaran on July 16, 2014 13:14

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The explanation given above really does not apply to most oil rig or FIFO workers who stay here longer than the 30 day on arrival. For example someone on a 6 on 6 off rotation who wished to stay for 6 weeks in Thailand what are their options? People on a 5&5 rota can easily extend their VOA by 1 week for 1900 baht but after that? legitimate "tourists" are those who have NO intentions of working here and there should be options available to those who want to stay longer and can afford to pay? I never thought in a million years that I would be looking forward to the "Old Man" retirement visa.

Posted by Tom on July 16, 2014 13:25

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At least the coast road up through Khao Lak will be a safer place now.

Posted by Mister Ree on July 16, 2014 13:50

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seems oil workers are not really tourists are they? they live here full time and go abroad to work. why should they be exempt when others (under 50s for example) have to suffer and be labelled illegal for doing similar?

Posted by jan on July 16, 2014 14:17

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Interesting compared to Immigration checking dive schools, bars, real estate agents, restaurants etc. Checks are being made as I witnessed recently at night in a bar in Rawai.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on July 16, 2014 15:11

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Jan,

Why are offshore workers not tourists, we dont work in Thailand and we spend lots of money here, i would have thought that would be welcome.

Posted by Michael on July 16, 2014 16:02

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so It seems that the 6 on 6 off oil rig guys will just have to get a 60 day tourist visa and still hope that they won't get denied

Posted by sky on July 16, 2014 16:46

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And B visa holders who have 1 year validity, but do not get yearly extensions and must leave every 90 days? No mention of this eventuality. Developing countries who shun SME foreign investors who provide jobs are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Posted by The Night Mare on July 16, 2014 17:17

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I am still confused with Non B multiple Entry Visa with Work Permit. Can someone shed some light on this subject and if not, who do we talk to, to get direct answers?

Posted by Tbs on July 16, 2014 23:17

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I believe the article has an error. One can always obtain alternative transport to the border in Ranong aside from Visa-Run buses. The roads will certainly be a lot safer without those too often dangerous drivers.

Posted by The Night Mare on July 16, 2014 23:22

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Having read all kinds of misinterpretations of the current rules and their varying interpretation at different Immigration Stations I read this report in the expectation of an authoritative and correct statement of at least the current rules prior to the announcement of new ones to be implemented from 12th August. Like Ciaran I was very disappointed when your travel expert supplied you with fundamentally incorrect terminology. Then you go on to say "With no visa runs now operating to Ranong from Phuket, travellers must go instead to Tammarang in Satun province, on the Thai-Malaysia border." First that implies that what cannot be accepted from visa runners abusing the system at Ranong is acceptable at Tammarang. Second your earlier comments from the anonymous officer at Ranong says "real tourists are fine" presumably still through Ranong. So saying "travellers must go instead to Tammarang". Aren't real tourists travellers? Ranong has been our chosen point of extending our visa from Khao Lak on three separate occasions over the past few years and hopefully will be again when we return in November on our Non-Imm O or Tourist Visa in November, hence my and many other legitimate visitors to Thailand's anxiety to obtain accurate information, something PW usually prides itself on.

Posted by Alan on July 17, 2014 03:46

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Hi Claran, with respect I'm afraid you have been misinformed regarding VOA. There is a Visa on Arrival and it is for twenty countries e.g. Andorra, Bhutan, China, Latvia et al who must pay on arrival for the right to spend 15 days here in Thailand and only at an International airport. Most other countries can get a Visa Exemption Extension i.e. an entry stamp on arrival for a limited period, some get 90 days others 30 or 15 days. for no charge at any point of entry, i.e. by land sea or air. I Hope this clarifies the confusion.

Posted by seht1912 on July 17, 2014 08:03

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People are missing the point of the problem with oil rotation workers. They are flown point to point, there is no practical way they have the time or ability to go and apply for a tourist visa in a 3rd country, given their travel schedule.

The article (even with its incorrect terminology and incorrect names of the visa classes) totally misses the one visa that could apply to them, the 5 year elite card scheme for 500,000 thb.

Posted by LivinLOS on July 17, 2014 08:34

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Many oil rotation workers are married with Thai spouses and dual-citizen children; so they do not have so much problem to get a O Visa with multiple entries.
I know many of them in that case.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 17, 2014 10:23

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seht1912,
Without correcting every piece ofyour totally incorrect comments, please read the correct description of all the different types of visa available to visitors to Thailand on the Royal Thai Embassy website at http://thaiembassyuk.org.uk/?q=node/44
Your comment "Most other countries can get a Visa Exemption Extension i.e. an entry stamp on arrival for a limited period, some get 90 days others 30 or 15 days. for no charge at any point of entry, i.e. by land sea or air." is complete rubbish.

Posted by Alan on July 18, 2014 01:39

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A lot of Indian nationals working in Gem trade at Bangkok ,showrooms at silom area in the jewelry malls, most of them using ED visa, retirement visa, and some of them staying on Tourist visas, none of them paying any taxes to the Government.

Posted by Joshi on August 6, 2014 08:30

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Immigration checking only outer Bangkok,but in Bangkok many foreigners working without proper visas in all sectors. Especially foreigners selling Gemstones or working at jewelry malls in silom, Bangrak, sukhumvit areas. so far no authorities stop this people working freely without fear.

Posted by Attasit on August 8, 2014 08:48

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According to the New immigration rules, Children under 7 years old need to pay overstay fines and banned entry to Thailand in future or not? please let us know here, a friend of mine(Foriegner) waiting for the clear answer from those whoever know very well about the new Immigration overstay regulations,your kind co-operations will be highly appreciated.

Posted by Adun on August 9, 2014 23:58

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I just renewed my Non-B Multi 1y Visa in a Thai Consulate abroad and was warned that they had received a notice from Thai Labor office that those applying for a work permit holding a Multiple Entry Non-B 1y Visa will be rejected.

Only applicants with a Single Entry Non-B will be accepted.

If true, this is utterly ridiculous because the requirement for the work permit issuance is the Multi Entry Non-B 1y Visa anyway.

Furthermore imagine someone changing jobs after 6 months.

Does that mean this person, despite holding a valid Multi Entry Non-B 1y, has to have it invalidated, leave the country and reapply for a Single Entry Non-B, then apply for a new work permit, leave the country again in order to get a Multi Entry Non-B which he already had to start off with.

I really would like to hear the official explanation for this new policy.

On another note, while queuing up at Phuket airport immigration, a western lady in front of me had her passport examined by 2 officers for about 10min.

She was eventually let in but with a stern warning that her 3 back to back tourist visas will not be acceptable next time.

I have 5 back to back Non-B Multi 1y visas, just like everyone working here legally would and the officer serving me never said a word, not even hello or thank you, as usual.

It would be interesting to hear what kind of experiences have others had who recently applied for visas and/or entered Thailand.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 10, 2014 08:33

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"According to the New immigration rules, Children under 7 years old need to pay overstay fines and banned entry to Thailand in future or not?"

No, rules for children have not changed.

Posted by stevenl on August 10, 2014 10:50

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"I have 5 back to back Non-B Multi 1y visas, just like everyone working here legally would"

Most people would have an extension of stay. These are meant for this. Only if you don't meet the requirements for that a new visa is in order, but I do think that there will come an end to that as well.

Posted by stevenl on August 10, 2014 10:54

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"If true, this is utterly ridiculous because the requirement for the work permit issuance is the Multi Entry Non-B 1y Visa anyway"

@Thaimike - absolutely wrong. A single entry non b is all that is required for the work permit. Once you receive your Work Permit you can then apply for a 1 year extension of stay - this is what they want you to do now and hence why non b multi entry visas will become a thing of the past. There is a clear reason for this - its to make sure you actually are working and have the appropriate visa. If you had a multi entry it would be quite easy to quit your job and live on the non b.

Posted by Ciaran on August 10, 2014 11:02

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- Ciaran

With a single entry Non-B one applies for a work permit and is issued the Pre-Approved work permit certificate.

With this certificate one then has to travel abroad once again and only with it will most Consulates or Embassies then issue the Multi Entry Non-B.

This is how it has been for me and many others I know of. If this policy has since changed, that is news for me.

As to Non-B requiring you to work, that's rubbish.

It covers a wide range of business activities such as investment, which is by no definition of the term deemed work.

You can also obtain a 3y Non-B Multi visa if you qualify and never have to work even one day in Thailand.

If as you claim "non b multi entry visas will become a thing of the past" then investment activities will also become a thing of the past.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 10, 2014 11:49

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@ ThaiMike
This 'forum' really is not suited for this, but you are incorrect on several counts.

Posted by stevenl on August 10, 2014 12:57

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There is a multiple entry tourist visa,valid for six months I have one,but must be obtained at country of residence,with proof of job ie letter from employer or copy of tax return,and also proof of residence in home country ie utility bill,and also sufficient funds in home bank account.

Posted by Rondisbury on February 16, 2016 16:55


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