It seems that the Thai government has decided to clamp down on the free visa on arrival system which is in place at the moment.
No doubt it is going to cause a lot of problems for backpackers who are using Thailand as a hub to visit other parts of SE Asia. Early indications from the consulate in the UK is they will be enforcing the onward ticket policy and if you have done consecutive visa border runs you then have to leave for 90 days before you are allowed back in.
Immigration confirms the end of border runs from October 1, 2006 Thailand tightens visa rules for tourists to cut illegal workers
BANGKOK: -- Thailand will tighten entry regulations for tourists in a bid to crack down on illegal foreign workers, the Immigration Bureau said.
The move, which takes effect October 1, would affect tourists from 41 countries including Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the US, said Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, the head of the bureau.
Currently, tourists from 41 countries can enter Thailand without visas and stay in the kingdom for up to 30 days.
They can extend their stay by checking out of the country, mainly by crossing the borders of neighboring Cambodia and Laos, and returning with new entry stamps.
'Under the current rules, people from those countries can stay in Thailand as long as they want. Some even stay here for one year,' another bureau official said.
The bureau had learned that a growing number of foreigners from the 41 countries worked illegally in Thailand, Suwat said, adding many were employed in bars and restaurants in the popular seaside resort of Pattaya, east of Bangkok.
'Tourists are taking advantage of the visa exemption law. Instead of sightseeing, they are doing business here,' Suwat said.
From October, tourists from the designated countries can still enter Thailand without visas and stay for up to 30 days, but their entry stamps will be renewable twice at most for a maximum stay of 90 days.
Tourists who stayed for 90 days must leave the kingdom for at least 90 days before being permitted to re-enter Thailand, Suwat said.
I have been in touch with the Thai consul here in the UK and have got some clarification on the 30 day visa-free situation. I think point 5 is the most pertinent and will affect almost everyone travelling around SE Asia for a time.
At this moment in time there is no news on whether the multiple entry visa or 60 day visa in advance will be changed, they are still working on this. Hints from people living in Thailand indicate there will be a change
1.Retirement Visa extension. If you have a foreign married spouse who is a dependent they will be able to get this dependent visa. ( change of what has been happing the last couple weeks in Bangkok)
Example: You are 52 years old and you have a 34 year old wife who is from Germany, she can be a dependent. You only need 800,000 or a pension of 65,000 Baht per month as a couple.
2.Retirement visa extension: If you have children under 20. They will no longer be able to get a dependent visa based on you having an extension of stay on retirement. Immigration wants these kids to get it based on education so they go to school.
3.Investment Visa extension: Will no longer be available after Oct 1st for new applicants on 3 million Baht.
4. Investment visa extension. For existing extension of stay holders of 3 million Baht, we are now being told this will now be grandfathered in and they will be able to get the extension forever as long as they renew.
5.Now the news for frequent visitors: We have checked this upwards and backwards all day and it has been confirmed by a copy of the new regulation we have. If you have a visa on arrival or a Tourist Visa Exemption more than three times in six months, you cannot come into Thailand without a visa from an Embassy/Consulate. When you enter Thailand, even if you are here just 1 hour, this counts as 30 days. If you come back 6 weeks later for 2 days, this again is 30 days. If you arrive a month later for 4 days, still counts as 30 days. When you leave, you cannot enter Thailand for 3.5 months without coming back with a visa. The reason given is to force people who are supposed to have work permits to do so and pay tax.
Another example; you arrive for a week, this counts as 30 days, One month later 3 days and its 30 days, two months later and its for a two week period, still another 30 days. You can reenter Thailand in 6 weeks without having a visa.
The clock starts at zero on Oct 1st 2006, meaning everyone has a quota of three entries in the next six months. No matter how many previous entries you may have.
6.On extension of stay based support of a Thai national (Marriage visa), before if you applied for this extension of stay, you would get a 30 day consideration stamp. Once you return in 30 days you would get the one year extension. Now it will be the same as an extension of stay based on business with the norm of three 30 day consideration stamps. Immigration will go out and check to see if it's a real marriage or a sham before issuing the one year.
If they have not checked the marriage residence, they may giving you a one year renewal, the same 30 day consideration stamps before issuing the extension of stay.
7.On an extension of stay based on being a Monk. No dependents will be allowed to get an extension of stay based on being a dependent.
I'm flying down to bangkok on the 6th of Feb, then going to delhi, and nepal on the 28th of Feb, then returning on the 25th of march. Then perhaps take a short trip to cambodia, and then fly back from bangkok on the 6th of may. I'm not going to be gone more than 90 days, but will this be possible at all? I'm all really confused buy these new rules. I won't actully spend 90 days there. But first I'll spend around 22 days there, then be gone a bit less then one month and then go back for the more than 30 days. Is there anyway anyone could explain the system more clearly?