During his weekly address, General Prayuth ordered that the Immigration Police be more flexible in the application of immigration laws for visa runners. The Coup Leader was concerned that a harsh application of the law would damage English schools and the tourist industry.
Currently many visa runners are teaching at English or acting as tour guides for foreign tourist where Thais are deficient in the language such as Korean, Japanese, or Russian. With the coming of the ASEAN Community in 2015 and English as the official language of ASEAN, the Thai population routinely scores one of the lowest in English proficiency among the world. In addition, the recent political turmoil over the past year has had devastating effect the nation’s tourism. The recent call for “flexibility” is a spotlight on the economic realities of the time.
However this has been a shock to the government bureaucracy who have been readying themselves for the new stringent immigration rules. The foreign nationals who use visa runs to stay illegally in Thailand are also illegally working without work permits or paying government taxes. The concern is that the General may have quasi-legitimized the illegal activities of the foreign visa runners.
Other Visa News
- Tourist who run their own business on the internet do not need a work permit. They can stay in Thailand as long as their non-immigrant visa such as a tourist visa or a retirement visa is still valid.
- Thai Immigration Officials will still not grant spousal visas to same-sex couples even if it is legal in their home country. The same-sex couple will need to qualify for a non-immigrant visa separately.
- Student in non-formal education programs such as language schools, meditation courses, or Thai boxing schools can only extend their visa for up to 90 days but cannot stay in their visa for more than one year. If they want to continue their study, they will have to leave the country and apply for a new visa to reenter Thailand. Students who are enrolled in government education institutes can continue to extend their visa for up to one year.
- Volunteers in Thailand can extend their state in Thailand for up to a year if they receive a letter of approval from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Without the letter, they will only be issued a 90 day extension for up to one year.
- Dependents of non-immigrant visa holders can extend their stay in Thailand in one year increments. Children are considered dependents until the become 20 years old unless they have disabilities which prevent them living on their own without assistance.
Source: Chiang Mai City News