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Phuket Immigration overwhelmed as foreigners race to extend stay in Thailand

Phuket Immigration overwhelmed as foreigners race to extend stay in Thailand

PHUKET: Phuket Immigration Office will be open this Saturday (Sept 26), the last day of ‘visa amnesty, to process any last-minute applications to extend permits-to-stay.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Monday 21 September 2020, 06:05PM

The confirmation came today as the Immigration Office in Phuket Town was flooded with foreigners seeking to extend their stay in the country, ahead of the amnesty ending on  Saturday.

The queue to enter the Immigration Office spilled out to the area set up in front of the main building, with officers stationed there to process applications instead of overcrowding the office inside.

Meanwhile, the queue of cars lined up in the Drive Thru backed up to the street while officers worked as quickly as they could to process all applications filed.

Some of the foreigners said they had arrived at the office in the morning, and were still there at 3pm this afternoon. However, one foreigner explained that filing his application had been delayed because he forgot some of the documents required.

Any foreigners whose permits-to-stay remain expired from Sunday onwards will incur the standard penalties of B500 a day fine. Also, any foreigners caught overstaying in the country by more than 90 days may face being blacklisted.

Pol Col Pakpong Sai-ubol, deputy spokesman of the Immigration Bureau, has warned, “Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.” 

Offenders would also be deported to their countries of origin, he added, reported the Bangkok Post earlier today.

Col Pakpong also warned out that more than 150,000 foreign nationals still needed to have their tourist visas renewed by Sept 26 or face a charge of overstaying.

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin told The Phuket News today, 

“With five days left to extend their visa, according to our records there are in total 1,641 foreigners on tourist or long-stay visas who still have not come to our office to extend their visa.”

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Lt Col Udom pointed out that many foreigners have left it to the last few days before coming to the Immigration office to extend their visas.

“Since last week, we have been processing about 190 applications a day,” he said.

“The final day for submitting applications [before the penalties come into effect] is this Saturday (Sept 26),” he said.

“So this Saturday, we will open our office to serve foreigners at 8:30am in the morning and we will stay open to process all applications submitted on that day, even if we have to work until midnight,” he said.

“But after Sept 26, foreigners will be fined B500 a day if their visa has not been extended,” he warned.

“Honestly, we do not want to charge them, but we must follow the law. Please come to have your visa extended on time,” he urged.

Another Immigration officer The Phuket News spoke with strongly urged foreigners to make sure they bring all the documents required in order for their application to be extended.

“Today there are a lot of foreigners here to extend their visas. Many of them did not have some of the documents needed, which made it slower to process their applications and issue their extensions to stay.

“If people have all the correct documents, it will help us to work faster and better,” the officer added.

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Kurt | 28 September 2020 - 10:29:15

Foreigners have to understand that the final day of your last extension in your passport is the starting date of your new extension. The 'amnesty' doesn't change that Immigration procedure, just delayed it. At the end, your passport shows no extension 'gaps'.

Hermann1 | 27 September 2020 - 17:59:52

@Foot    Kurt's comments line up very well with Phuket's reality.  He knows very well what is going on here because he lives here too. Some people deny the truth but he tells the truth.

Foot | 25 September 2020 - 12:10:35

@Kurt  Your posts comment on things that just aren't pertinent.
No, I wasn't disappointed.  They had stated these would have been for a year from September.  And, they've just said it will be. I just fell through the cracks in all the confusion.  No problem. Same Same.
Kurt, your many comments, in the past, don't seem to line up with Phuket's realities. Do you even live in Ph...

Kurt | 25 September 2020 - 09:36:37

@Foot, you are right. But I understood from your writing that you were disappointed with re-start date of visa prolongation. Your new extension is seamless re-starting again from May. The delay in time to get it in passport doesn't matter. Guess you were expecting a 'September stamp' in passport, but that would show you were without visa from May till September. Not possible.

Foot | 24 September 2020 - 19:17:56

Didn't you hear COVID was at it's peak in May?
Dang, you are ignorant.

Kurt | 24 September 2020 - 08:50:49

@ Foot,  a delay of a extension is not changing  the date of prolongation. May 2020 is in your passport, so delayed prolongation till May 2021. There is not such thing here as 'taking advantage' as a foreigner.  :-). Indeed in your case it was useless to wait with 1 year renewing.

Tbird | 23 September 2020 - 21:02:26

Kurt. " The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Svcoquette | 23 September 2020 - 19:29:11

Foot, it's not about the money. It's about the hassle of only getting 9 days until 5 Oct. That's why many are waiting until 26 Sept. We were planning to go earlier but the weather was too bad to leave the boat unattended at anchor. Monday was the first decent weather in a while so we immediately went to immigration. Our boat is our mode of transport and we cannot leave as all ports are...

Foot | 23 September 2020 - 12:29:53

You are not paying the B1900 for 14 days.  It's for the whole summer plus 2 more weeks.

Foot | 23 September 2020 - 12:26:01

Actually, why would someone wait until the last few days?  They know it's going to be very busy.
And, what excuse are they using for not providing the paperwork?

Foot | 23 September 2020 - 12:21:56

@Svoquette and Kurt.
My 1 year extension was due to expire in May, 2020.  So, I took advantage of the summer to renew on 18 September.  I had heard the new ext would be for a full year, but, it was only through the May 2021 date. 1900 baht.
I'm now in the same position I'd be in if there was never the delay.

Sandbar | 23 September 2020 - 10:29:14

You have to give it to them they do come up with unique and imbecile ways to screw you for money. If only that mischievous talent could be put to a good cause!

Kurt | 23 September 2020 - 09:24:52

@Tiburd. My question was more rhetorical. I myself wrote several times about inhumane thai prison situation on Phuket ( 2700 inmates, were is space for 700), and Nakhon si Thammarat ( more than 7000 inmates). Level of  countries civilisation one can 'read' from how their prisons are 'hosting'.

Kurt | 23 September 2020 - 09:16:08

@Foot, did you go for a Retirement extension or for that 14 days provisional tourist extension a 1900 thb?

Svcoquette | 23 September 2020 - 07:39:20

Foot, did you get 30 day extension from 26 Sept or 14 day "Conditional" extension from Friday. Make sure you check. On Monday we and everyone else were only being given 14 days "Conditional" extensions beginning Monday.

Sandbar | 23 September 2020 - 02:19:04

How's the social distancing policy going down at the immigration office? 

Tbird | 22 September 2020 - 23:28:58

Kurt, No of course there is not enough prison space. A recent article about the new "state of the art" prison nearing completion , mentioned that the current "facility" houses about 2400 inmates, yet the hellhole was originally designed for 700. ( And I can tell you from personal experience that that inhumane dump isn't fit to house monkeys at a zoo....)

Svcoquette | 22 September 2020 - 21:32:22

No wonder people are waiting to apply. Yesterday many people left after they had their documents checked and received their waiting number and it was realized only 14 days beginning that day wad being given. Better to come back closer to the 26th.

Svcoquette | 22 September 2020 - 21:27:39

They are not giving 30 day extensions only 14 day "conditional" extensions from the day you apply. Very sneaky and misleading. You must return in 14 days to see if you are approved, if not you are "overstaying"!! AND you paid 1900 baht for 14 days!

Kurt | 22 September 2020 - 10:56:12

Does Thai Immigration has enough handcuffs/shackles, prison space for thousands of overstayers? Have they been thinking about that? Having already arranged a 3 meals per day for these locked criminals in place? Enough care takers? This is going to give a lot of international anti tourist publicity. RTP and Immigration are the opponents of TAT and Ministry of Tourism.

Svcoquette | 22 September 2020 - 10:11:08

I was there yesterday and it was packed. They cut it off at 150 applicants. We live on our boat and came from Malaysia. They would not accept the boat and we had to rent a hotel room so our address would be registered to immigration.
So many hoops to stay, so many to leave, so many hoops to come back. Thailand why not keep it simple and allow those here to stay at least to the end of the year.

Foot | 21 September 2020 - 21:15:46

I was there on the 18th at 9:15,  Had all the paperwork.  I was done and left at 9:50.  There were 5 or 6 others waiting to do the same.  Everyone was helpful and efficient.


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