Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thai Immigration crackdown on border runners

BANGKOK / PHUKET: In a crackdown on foreigners who "abuse" the tourist exemption rule allowing15-day visit extensions at border entry points, the Immigration Bureau has confirmed and informed ThaiVisa.Com of the following new regulation, which went into effect yesterday:

A foreigner who has entered the kingdom four consecutive times on 15-day tourist exemption stamps will not be allowed to leave the country and re-enter Thailand by land.

The only option is to exit Thailand and re-enter via an international airport, which will allow a further 30 day extension of stay in the country.

The Phuket Gazette's partner in the Phuket Forum, Thaivisa.Com, has confirmed the new regulation with the Immigration checkpoints at the Cambodian border and with visa run companies, saying the new regulation is effective from June 1, 2009.

Immigration checkpoints bordering Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia are expected to enforce the regulation shortly.

Most visa runners in Phuket make the journey to Kawthaung in Burma via Ranong. There are a handful of companies catering to this market.

The new rules do not affect holders of Thai visas issued abroad.

Foreigners are advised to apply for a tourist or non-immigrant visa at a Royal Thai Embassy or consulate outside Thailand, instead of "abusing" the 15-day extension rule.

As usual, holders of Tourist visas will be given a 60-day stay.

The new rule has already inspired more than 280 posts on the ThaiVisa.Com thread since it was posted at about 6:30pm yesterday. To see what people are saying, click here.

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