Thailand Visa News - Updates on Thai Visa Regulations
New ED Visa Requirements & Extension Rules Now Also Enforced in Pattaya
According to a thread on ThaiVisa.com, starting from next week, i.e. February 2015, the Chonburi Immigration office on
Jomtien Soi 5 will enforce the same strict rules regarding the requirements for ED (education) visa holders and ED visa
extension as immigration on Phuket and in Bangkok.
That means that, for example, Thai language students holding an ED visa will have to attend classes four times a week
for two hours each, or for eight hours per week in total.
Also, when extending their visa for 90 days, ED visa holders will initially be given only a 15-day extension from now on.
At the end of this 15-day "evaluation period" students must go back to Immigration and will be granted another
extension of an additional 75 days. That means that for each 90-day period ED visa holders must visit immigration
New Rules for ED Visa Holders in Phuket, Bangkok - Study More Hours?
Starting from November 2014, there have been numerous reports from Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket (not Pattaya
yet) that Thai language students will now have to attend classes for 4 days per week, for 2 hours per class, in order to
extend an ED visa, effectively doubling the required hours of study from 4 to 8 per week. If students don’t study the
required amount of hours and do not enroll for another course of study after six months, their visa may not be
extended after that. This post at ThaiVisa.com explains the new rule pretty accurately.
Previously, Thai language students had to attend classes only two times per week, for two hours each, in order to be
eligible to apply for/extend a Non-immigrant ED visa. So far, it seems, the new rules are not yet being enforced in
New Extension Rules: Now Tourists Can Stay in Thailand for 60 Days Without Visa
Effective from Friday, August 29, tourists will be able to extend their visa-exempt stay in Thailand by a further 30 days,
not just seven days as previously. From now on, if you're eligible for a visa-exempted stay of 30 days in the country,
you will no longer need a 60-day tourist visa if you wish to stay in Thailand for more than a month but not exceeding 60
All you need to do is visit your local immigration bureau after your first 30 days have expired and apply for a 30-day
extension at a fee of 1,900 Baht; effectively giving you 60 days of stay without having to apply for a visa prior to your
visit. Just expect you'll be asked to produce a confirmed air ticket out of the country within the 30 days of extension,
hotel booking confirmation, and possibly proof of funds.
New Extension Rules: No ED Visa Extensions If Visa Older Than One Year
Visa extension regulations have been tightened for foreigners who enroll to study Thai in private language schools
outside of the official school system and have obtained an Education Visa (ED visa). Effective from August 29, ED
visas will be valid for only one year; foreign students will be granted visa extensions of 90 days each time but for no
longer than one year in total from the date of entry into the kingdom. Current ED visa holders with a visa older than
one year, will now have to leave Thailand and apply for a new visa before their current extension period ends.
No Crackdown on Back-To-Back Tourist Visa Applicants?
Will the current crackdown on out/in visa runs also affect back-to-back tourist visa applicants and foreign visitors
holding valid tourist visas? In slightly sensational manner, AsianCorrespondent.com reported on July 16: "Even those
on valid tourist visas may be denied entry if immigration officials suspect feel they are spending too long in the country
or working illegally." Ajarn.com even anticipated that "from [August 12th], apparently no one will be allowed to use back-
to-back 60-day tourist visas to enter Thailand. You can use one 60-day tourist visa to enter the country [one time], but
forget about using a second one." We immediately thought that this interpretation was slightly exaggerated.
Indeed, an immigration official in Chiang Mai has now confirmed "there is no limit to the number of tourist visas you can
apply for, nor is there a minimum time limit between each one." He also reaffirmed that a multiple-entry tourist visa will
"allow you to exit and enter Thailand however many times you have been granted." In other words, tourist visa
holders/applicants will not be affected by the ongoing "crackdown" on visa runners: You can apply for an unlimited
number of tourist visas consecutively, and you won't have to stay outside the country for an unspecified period of time
before applying for a new one; or so it seems, according to this particular source ...
In any case, tourist visa applicants should always be prepared to prove that they are in fact tourists and, if necessary,
be able to produce a confirmed airline ticket, hotel booking etc. Alternatively, foreigners who plan to stay in Thailand
for an extended period of time can also apply for an appropriate long-stay visa.
New Stricter Education Visa Rules: No Extensions If Visa Older Than One Year
Further changes have been announced to the Education visa rules and ED visa extension requirements. While it
seems the new and considerably stricter rules have not been officially approved yet and will not go into effect before
August 29, the Chonburi Immigration office on Jomtien Soi 5, which covers Pattaya and Chonburi province, is
reportedly already enforcing them and is refusing ED visa extensions if the visa is older than one year, instead
requesting students to go apply for a completely new ED visa.
Until now, the same ED visa could be used to study the same subject, e.g. Thai language, for up to five years; the
student did not have to leave Thailand but simply extend his visa at the local immigration office every 90 days
(extension fee 1,900 Baht). Under the new rules, an ED visa is obviously only good for one year (during which the
student has to extend his visa every 90 days); after one year the student will have to leave the country and apply for a
new ED visa, which will again be valid for only one year.
From a police order quoted on ThaiVisa.com: " ... each permission [for ED visa extension] shall be granted for ... no
more than 90 days, total length of stay shall not exceed one year from the date of entering the Kingdom." There are
also a number of threads currently discussing the new rules, e.g., here and here.
Current ED visa holders who have studied Thai for a couple of years already and hold a visa older than one year, will
now reportedly have to leave Thailand and apply for a new ED visa before their current extension period ends. For
example, if you have been using the same ED visa for more than one year (say it was issued in 2012) and your next 90-
day extension is due after August 29, e.g., on September 10, 2014, you will obviously have to leave Thailand before
that date and apply for a completely new visa.
Note: This is in addition to new stricter requirements for ED visa extensions, which will reportedly include some kind of
"proof of income". Anther, mostly dismissed rumour which has it that students would soon have to study five days a
week is obviously false.
New Overstay Rules to Take Effect Late August: Reports
Regarding the newly-announced immigration rule which may see "visa overstayers" of more than 90 days blacklisted, i.
e. banned from returning to Thailand, for 1-10 years, the Bangkok Post reported on July 30: "Foreigners overstaying
their visa in Thailand likely will face bans of up to 10 years starting August 25." This is based on a quote from an
immigration official who reportedly told the Bangkok Post: "[The new rule] is expected to take effect on August 25 after
being approved by the [interior] ministry."
The Nation, on the other hand (based on a quote from an immigration division spokesman), reported on July 31:
"Starting from August 29 [!], the ban will be imposed on any foreigner found to have overstayed his or her visa or visa-
exemption period." But regardless of whether it's August 25 or 29 - overstayers have been warned repeatedly to leave
the country and clear their overstay a.s.a.p.
Until now, tourists who "overstayed" their visa were usually simply fined 500 Baht/day up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht.
According to the new proposed rules, foreigners who overstay their visa for 90+ days would be prohibited from re-
entering Thailand for 1-10 years, depending on the length of their overstay.
UPDATE - As of August 31, the new rules have apparently not yet been approved and it remains unclear to what extent
the new regulations, if/when approved, will be enforced?
Immigration: Aliens Must Carry Valid ID, Report Address Change Within 24 Hours
According to a report on ThaiVisa.com on July 29, immigration in Hua Hin announced that "from today [they will be]
enforcing the existing rule that foreigners are required to carry a valid photo ID at all times." In an update on July 30,
ThaiVisa.com then further explained that only the original passport was a valid ID as required by immigration ...
information that was obviously incorrect. On July 31, Thaivisa eventually set the record straight and reported they had
"obtained official clarification" from a "senior official at Immigration headquarters in Bangkok" who "confirmed that
foreign tourists and expats do not need to carry their passports with them at all times."
The immigration official is quoted as saying that "tourists can of course leave their passports locked in their hotel safe
and enjoy their holiday in Thailand without worrying about the need to carry their original passport ... for expats living
here, a Thai driving license or photocopy of your passport can be used as a form of identification. However, if
Immigration Police suspect an individual to be overstaying in Thailand or being involved in illegal activity, then the
individual would be required to produce their original passport promptly ... if we think a foreigner is involved in illegal
activity then we will of course need to see their original passport, this is normal."
So a copy of your original passport or a Thai driving licence are fully acceptable as a valid ID and you don't have to
carry your original passport at all times! Failure to carry a valid ID may certainly still result in a fine of 2,000 Baht, and
violators might face a thorough "background check" at the local immigration office, just to make sure you have a valid
visa and are not on any "wanted list". Also note: While this has been an existing (yet mostly ignored) rule for many
years, it should be expected that immigration will soon start to enforce this rule nationwide.
The original report on July 29 further added: "Hua Hin Immigration is from today also enforcing the requirements that
you and your landlord (condominium owner, house owner etc.) must report to Immigration within 24 hours of moving in
to a new address. On your arrival card you already reported your place of stay, and if that changes you need to visit
Immigration and report your new address."
Note: If you're a tourist, the hotel where you're staying must report you to immigration; so this is more relevant to
expats and long-stayers. Furthermore, this is basically also an existing rule which immigration is only expected to
enforce nationwide soon, not just in Hua Hin. So in case you change your address in the future, e.g., you move in to
another condo or house, you must now visit your local immigration office and fill a certain form notifying them of your
address change. The required form can be downloaded from the ThaiVisa website.
Finally, to make things even more complicated for people who don't stay in hotels all the time, there is also another
new reporting obligation applying to foreigners who visit another province (than the one where they are registered) and
stay there for more than 48 hours; e.g. if you visit your Thai girlfriend's home in the countryside for a week or so during
your stay. ThaiVisa.com reports: "In that case the reporting of the new address must be provided to the police, or the
immigration, within 48 hours." The applicable form can also be downloaded from the ThaiVisa website.
New Overstay Rules Now Official, Not Yet in Effect
ThaiVisa.com reports that the Immigration Bureau has on July 22 posted a new announcement regarding its updated
rules for "visa overstayers" on its website. Until now, tourists who "overstayed" their visa were simply fined 500
Baht/day up to a maximum fine of 20,000 Baht; only when an "overstayer" was caught within the kingdom, he/she faced
arrest and deportation. Overstayers were not blacklisted.
According to the new rules, however, foreigners who overstay their visa for more than 90 days will get blacklisted, i.e.
prohibited from returning to Thailand for a period of 1-10 years. The good news are: The Immigration Bureau
confirmed on July 25 that the new overstay rules are still awaiting approval by the Ministry of Interior. That means, they
are not yet in effect. It should also be noted that, according to a number of comments posted on ThaiVisa.com, the new
rules will not be in effect until September. But obviously, if you should be on an overstay, the sooner you leave the
country - preferably via an airport checkpoint - and clear your overstay/visa situation, the better are your chances of
not getting blacklisted. ThaiVisa.com suggests: "If you currently are on overstay, you are advised to clear it as soon as
possible. Good advice would be to clear the overstay at the airport and fly out to a neighbouring country and obtain a
relevant visa at a Royal Thai Consulate or Embassy."
As we interpret the new rules: If an overstayer gets apprehended in Thailand without a valid permission of stay, no
matter how lengthy the overstay is, he risks getting blacklisted for 5-10 years. If an overstayer makes it to the airport or
any other border checkpoint and pays the appropriate overstay fine, he will get blacklisted for 1-10 years only if he has
overstayed his visa for more than 90 days; less than 90 days is okay it seems. The overstay fine of 500 Baht/day up to
a maximum of 20,000 Baht still applies.
The announcement on the immigration website reads as follows:
"[If the overstayer surrenders himself at a border checkpoint]
Overstay more than 90 days forbidden 1 year
Overstay more than 1 year forbidden 3 years
Overstay more than 3 years forbidden 5 years
Overstay more than 5 years forbidden 10 years
[If the overstayer gets apprehended while staying in Thailand]
Overstay less than 1 year forbidden 5 years
Overstay more than 1 years forbidden 10 years"
Visa Exemption Extension Period to be Extended from 7 to 30 Days
Amid all those terrible visa-related news coming in on an almost daily basis, e.g. regarding the imminent crackdown on
out/in visa runs, back-to-back tourist visas and "visa overstayers", here are finally some good news for "genuine"
foreign tourists who wish to stay in Thailand for not longer than 60 days. If you're eligible for a visa-exempted stay of
30 days in the country, you will soon no longer need a 60-day tourist visa if you wish to stay in Thailand for more than
a month but not exceeding 60 days. All you need to do is visit your local immigration bureau after your first 30 days
have expired and apply for a 30-day extension (currently only 7-day extensions are available). In a nutshell: Tourists
who are eligible for a visa-exempt entry will soon be able to stay in Thailand without a visa for a total of 60 days. The
new visa exemption extension rules will reportedly be in force from the end of next month.
ThaiVisa.com reports: "The Immigration Bureau has announced that of August 29. 2014 you will be able to extend your
visa exemption period whilst you're in Thailand by 30 days, instead of the current 7 days, giving a total visa-exemption
stay of 60 days. The fee for extension of stay is 1,900 Baht (unchanged).
Currently, a visa exemption entry can be extended by 7 days at your nearest Immigration office. From August 29th, it
can be extended by 30 days. In effect, you can be in the country without a visa for 60 days."
The report adds: "If you are traveling on visa-exempt or with a tourist visa, bring these documents for your extension:
1. Your onward flight ticket or eTicket out of Thailand within the 30 days
2. Minimum 10,000 Baht, or rather 20,000 Baht
3. Hotel booking confirmation - and if you have it, your itinerary
4. One photo, passport sized.
5. Application fee, 1,900 Baht"
Visa Crackdown Also Targeting Back-to-Back Tourist Visa Holders?
Here are potentially bad news for long-stay tourists. Unfortunately it looks like the ongoing crackdown on "out/in" visa
runners (targeting tourists "abusing" the visa exemption scheme, under which foreigners from most Western countries
can visit Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa) is now being expanded to also include foreign visitors holding valid
tourist visas. AsianCorrespondent.com reports: "Even those on valid tourist visas may be denied entry if immigration
officials suspect feel they are spending too long in the country or working illegally." Just precisely how long is deemed
"too long"; and for how long do you have to stay outside the country to be considered a "genuine" tourist again?
While many questions remain unanswered for now, the use of back-to-back tourist visas may no longer be permitted;
and foreigners who use back-to-back tourist visas to continually extend their stay in Thailand may have future
applications rejected. Below are some excerpts from concerned recent articles:
- The Phuket News quotes the superintendent of Phuket immigration as saying: "Every immigration post on land
borders and at airports now has the same rules. If they are genuine tourists that's fine. But if we believe they are not
tourists, they will not be readmitted into Thailand. We can see [from their passport stamps] if a foreigner has stayed in
Thailand too long [on tourist visas]. We will not let them in."
- The Phuket Gazette reports that "tourists unable to prove the legitimacy of their trip to Thailand are being turned
away despite having tourist visas issued by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Lt Col Banphot Kittivira,
deputy superintendent of the Immigration checkpoint at Sadao at the Malaysian border, where "about 100 foreigners
denied entry into the Kingdom per month". The superintendent is quoted as saying: "If tourists can’t provide us with
details about their trip to Thailand, we will refuse them entry. We are being very strict about this because some
foreigners are using a tourist visa to enter the country and work - this is the wrong type of visa for this. Foreigners who
are using many tourist visas to enter Thailand multiple times for nearly a year or more are very suspicious. I think
between 60 and 90 days is enough for most people to travel in Thailand." The superintendent also explained that
"legitimate tourists need to clarify what activities they plan on participating in while in Thailand. Additionally, proof of
hotel reservations will help them gain entry."
- AsianCorrespondent.com quotes the ThaiVisa website as reporting that "some foreigners with proper [tourist] visas
were refused entry at points along the Thai-Malaysian border. Their reporter said 20 foreigners holding 60-day tourist
visas were turned away ... and that 'all of the foreigners who were denied entry had a previous history of multiple visa
exempt entries or back to back tourist visas.' They were told to take a bus to Kuala Lumpur and fly back into Thailand."
- Ajarn.com anticipates that "from [August 12th], apparently no one will be allowed to use back-to-back 60-day tourist
visas to enter Thailand. You can use one 60-day tourist visa to enter the country [one time], but forget about using a
second one. Apparently you'll be refused entry at the airport as well as any land border." AsianCorrespondent.com
reasons: "The fact that even those holding a tourist visa are being denied in some cases suggests the seriousness of
this crackdown." We can't help but agree.
"No More Visa Runs": Visa Runners Not Allowed to Re-Enter After August 12
The Nation has a few more details on the imminent crackdown on "visa runners": "Foreigners who do regular visa runs
in order to extend their stay in Thailand have less than a month before a crackdown by the authorities to enforce
immigration laws more strictly. From August 13, people [who have not obtained a proper visa prior to their visit to
Thailand] will not be able to re-enter the country, regardless of their choice of transport [including visa runs by air?!].
The Immigration Bureau has already instructed officials to deny entry to foreigners doing visa runs as a measure to
stop the exploitation of tourist visas [?!] and visa exemptions to live or work here." So visa runs by air, not just border
runs to a land border crossing, will obviously also be affected by the new regulations; while it remains to be seen to
what extent holders of tourist visas will be affected.
The Immigration Bureau website is quoted as saying: "Leniency will be granted until August 12, but only for passengers
arriving by air. Foreigners who come to Thailand [and wish to stay longer than 30 days] must seek a proper visa in line
with the purpose of their intended stay here."
The Nation adds that "those on a visa run who are allowed back in will find an "O-I" (Out-In) mark next to their latest
stamp marking entry. From August 13, nobody with an O-I sign on their passport will be allowed to re-enter Thailand if
they cannot produce a proper visa."
To be clear about this: Thai immigration seem to be very strict about these new regulations this time. If you haven't
obtained a regular visa prior to your visit to Thailand, but wish to stay longer than just for a brief holiday, then "visa
runs" are no longer a viable option to extend your stay in the kingdom. If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than a
holiday of 30 days or less, you're advised to apply for a tourist visa at your local Thai embassy or consulate in
advance. A single-entry tourist visa is good for a 60-day stay in Thailand and can be extended locally for another 30
days. If you wish to wish to stay in Thailand more or less "permanently" and not just for an extended holiday, e.g., if
you're retired and wish to settle down here, are legally married to a Thai national, or you want to do business or work
legally in Thailand, you should obtain the appropriate (Non-immigrant) visa prior to entering the country.
Thai Immigration to Blacklist "Visa Overstayers" of More than 90 Days: Reports
There have been rumours of an apparent immigration crackdown on foreigners who overstay their visa in Thailand for
a while. Until now, tourists who "overstay" are usually simply fined 500 Baht/day up to a maximum fine of 20,000 Baht.
And only when an "overstayer" is caught within the kingdom, he/she faces arrest and deportation. But now the usually
well-informed Thaivisa.com web board reports that they've been "given access to a new police order proposal that is
due to be signed and released imminently, detailing tough new measures for foreigners who overstay in Thailand."
According to Thaivisa.com, the new measures will see foreigners who overstay their visa for more than 90 days
blacklisted, i.e. prohibited from returning to Thailand. The details as given by Thaivisa.com are as follows:
"In the case that alien surrenders themselves:
Overstay more than 90 days > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 1 year.
Overstay more than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 3 years.
Overstay more than 3 years > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 5 years.
Overstay more than 5 years > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years.
Overstay more than 10 years > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for life.
In the case that the alien is being apprehended:
Overstay for less than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 5 years.
Overstay for more than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years"
While this certainly all sounds rather scary, and a senior immigration official on Tuesday confirmed the imminent
crackdown on "overstayers", it must be added that the penalties are not yet in effect. The Phuket Gazette, however,
quotes the official as saying: "Some foreigners have been ignoring our laws for a long time ... It is time to stop. If you
live in a country, you [must] respect its rules."
Immigration Crackdown on "Visa Runs" - Only One Entry Via Land Border Crossing!
From Saturday, May 10, 2014, foreign tourists and expats in Thailand will reportedly no longer be able to continuously
exit and then re-enter the kingdom via a land border crossing in order to gain another 30 or 15 day stay in Thailand.
Instead, foreign visitors will be restricted to a single entry (!) into Thailand via a land border crossing. While the full
weight of this new regulation is due to be applied only from August 12, 2014 (and "visa runs by air" may also be
affected), various reports indicate that the new rules are already being rigidly enforced at many land border
ThaiVisa reports that from now on, "visitors can only enter into Thailand via a land border once, after that they will be
refused entry to the Kingdom and are advised to fly out and return with a visa obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or
Consulate in a neighbouring country or overseas."
Non-Immigrant visa or tourist visa holders with remaining entries on their visa will not be affected by this new regulation
and may exit and enter Thailand as before. "However, these new measures are targeting foreign visitors without a visa
who are regularly entering and exiting the kingdom every 15 or 30 days as a way of extending their stay in Thailand." In
other words, so-called "visa runs" e.g. to the Cambodian border, as have been popular with legions of quasi-expats
(we mean long-stay "tourists" who effectively reside in Thailand using the "visa exemption" scheme) for many years, will
soon be a thing of the post.
The Bangkok Post adds: "Under the new rules, visitors who leave [Thailand briefly via a land border crossing] and then
try to come back immediately may be stopped, and told they must first obtain a proper tourist or non-immigrant visa,
and then return ... Officials at border points will use their discretion on a case-by-case basis. If a re-entry is made once
or twice, a foreigner may be allowed to re-enter Thailand. But if he has done so multiple times, he may need to be
interrogated ... Foreigners who cannot convince officials they are tourists will be advised to apply for a proper Thai visa
[e.g. at the Thai consulate in Vientiane/Laos] if they wish to remain in the country."
Coconuts Bangkok clarifies that until August 12, 2014, visitors would still be allowed to re-enter Thailand on three
consecutive "border runs" (visa exemption), after which they would have to obtain a proper visa from a Thai embassy
or consulate to be able to re-enter Thailand. But: "Any foreigner who completes even one visa run in order to re-enter
the country on visa-exemption status is to have his passport stamped 'O-I', to show they had already been 'out and in'
from/to Thailand. Any foreigner attempting to re-enter Thailand after August 12 with a passport stamped 'O-I' is to be
Don's Life In Thailand (Chiang Mai)