Thailand Now Seeks to Punish Overstaying Aliens

Thailand continues to welcome foreigners into its friendly country. However, it also now seeks to put things straight and introduce stricter rules on foreigners who decide to stay past the length of time their visa is permitting them to be in Thai soil.

As such, it is now implementing stricter rules on visa overstaying. These rules will become effective in March this year. If you’re planning to travel to Thailand on business or leisure purposes, take note of the following information.

What is Overstaying?

Each visa, when awarded to a foreigner, allows one to stay for a specific number of days in the country before they are required to leave the country. This is the “exit” part of the requirement; to satisfy the requirements of a visa, one has to get an exit stamp on their passport before they can go back to the country.

The common practice is to cross a land border to Thailand’s neighboring countries, or to fly out to another country. After exiting the country, a foreigner is expected to renew his or her visa to get an extension from a Thai consul outside the Kingdom, except if the visa allows for multiple re-entries.

Other foreigners, however, decide to just stay in Thailand past the allowed dates in their visas instead of renewing them. This is because they only need to pay penalties if ever the authorities catch them overstaying. With a fine of only THB500 a day, it’s clear that some foreigners might even set aside money for the purpose of paying the fine. Current regulations also allow overstayers to return to Thailand after paying the fine.

With the new rules, however, Thai authorities are enforcing stricter penalties for overstaying. These penalties, unfortunately, include blacklisting.

The Penalties

The penalties are grouped according to two. First, there are corresponding penalties for foreigners who voluntarily surrender themselves to the authorities and be prosecuted for overstaying. For those that stay for more than 90 days beyond what is allowed by their visa, they will be deported and prevented from entering the country for a period of 1 year. Accordingly, overstaying for periods in excess of 1 year, 3 years and 5 years will mean an entry into the immigration blacklist for 3 years, 5 years and 10 years, respectively.

The new rules impose harsher penalties on those who are caught by the authorities. These foreigners will be banned from entering Thailand for 5-10 years.

It Pays to Follow the Rules

The new rules are simply a response to those foreigners who have taken advantage of Thailand’s leniency towards aliens. To avoid trouble and being barred from entering the otherwise beautiful Kingdom of Thailand, it’s best to follow the rules instead and renew your visas if you want to stay in Thailand for more than you applied for.

These new penalties will be effective on March 20, 2016. If you know someone who is currently overstaying, advise them to surrender to the authorities immediately and just pay a fine, rather than be blacklisted. Advise them to apply for new visas as well.

Photo credit :Duane Storey

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