The call follows surreal scenes at the main Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town last Thursday (Mar 25), when scores of foreigners arrived en masse to have their 60-day so-called ‘COVID visas’ extended so they could continue their stay in the country.
The call for foreigners to extend their 60-day visas early also follows Immigration Bureau Commission Lt Gen Somphong Chingduang yesterday (Mar 30) issuing a notice to all immigration offices in the country to continue extending 60-day ‘COVID visas’ until at least May 29.
“Since currently, the Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19 pandemic is spreading around the globe while Thailand is facing second waves of the outbreak, affecting the departure from Thailand and the foreigners staying within the Kingdom. Hence, it is approved for an extension of stay in accordance with the notice mentioned above until 29 May 2021,” the notice said.
An officer at Phuket Immigration who asked to be called only “Inspector Kratae” told The Phuket News today, “The COVID visa can be extended early within 45 days before the expiry date, just like other visas, but I would like people to come only one to two weeks early because we may need a couple of days to process the extension for some foreigners.
“We are worried about making sure their reported address and the address of their current accommodation matches,” she said.
“Additionally, foreigners have to check the expiry date on their passport, as we cannot extend the visa beyond the passport’s expiry date. They also have to check if their passports have blank space for the stamp because we cannot extend their visa if their passports are full. They need a new passport,” Ms Kratae added.
“We have to face these problems very often, so please check your passport and contact your embassy or consulate to renew as necessary,” she explained.
“To prevent congestion at the office, please make a booking through the QueQ app before coming to the office, so you do not have to wait for a long time [to be served],” she said.
As there is no “Extend COVID Visa” option available through the booking app, Ms Kratae advised people to select “Certification or request by an embassy”.
“Please confirm your booking when you receive the second alert through the app, otherwise the app will dismiss the queue booking you made,” she warned.
“I will ask my commander to add a new option for COVID visa extension later,” she said.
Another officer The Phuket News spoke to also urged foreigners to not leave their visa renewals to the last-minute, in the hope of getting the maximum number days’ stay.
“People should come to renew their visas early, especially people staying on COVID visas. There is no need to panic. The global pandemic situation is still a long way from being resolved, and we will keep issuing these 60-day [COVID] visas until the situation improves,” he said.