Thailand


Thai authorities launch crackdown on expat paperwork

by Ray Clancy on August 6, 2014

Expats in Thailand are facing a crackdown on visa checks with immigration rules being more heavily enforced, it has emerged.

Thailand has long been seen as a country where rules are not enforced, with people working without permits, retired people going unchecked and people staying long-term on tourism visas.

Thailand

The new military-run administration is cracking down on foreigners staying in Thailand without proper paperwork

Now, the new military-run administration says it is cracking down on foreigners staying and working without proper paperwork. At risk are those on tourist visas working as teachers, early retirees and so-called digital nomads who live in Thailand and work remotely for a company in their home country, thus paying no tax in Thailand.

A crackdown is also underway to enforce existing laws stating that all foreigners, including tourists, carry their passports or photographic proof of their identities at all times.

The rules also state that police must also be informed within 24 hours when foreigners change address, with violators facing fines for non-compliance.

The restrictions come as the Thai military maintains a tight grip on governance following the May 22 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, after months of political unrest.

Under martial law, gatherings of more than five people are banned, the media faces strict censorship and authorities are swift to clamp down on dissent.

Immigration officials have announced that from 12 August on, foreigners will be banned from taking so-called “visa runs” to obtain short stay, back-to-back visas that have allowed them to repeatedly extend their stay through border stamps. The visa runs have spawned businesses that facilitate cross border trips by foreigners, some of whom are known to have been using the loophole for more than 10 years.

Even foreigners on valid tourist visas may now be denied entry if border officials suspect they are spending too long in the country or working illegally.

‘Foreigners who come to Thailand must seek a proper visa in line with the purpose of their intended stay here,’ said an Immigration Bureau spokesman. He added that foreigners who overstay could end up being banned from entering Thailand for years or even for life.

Until now, those on tourist visas were fined the equivalent of $17 USD for every day they overstayed, up to a maximum of $669 if they presented themselves at an airport or immigration office. In most cases, they were allowed to immediately leave and then re-enter the country.

Now, those who overstay more than 90 days and surrender to immigration officials will be prohibited from returning for one year, while those who overstay for more than five years will be prohibited from re-entering for 10 years.

Thailand has seen a steep drop in the number of people arriving on tourist visas, which is probably due to the unrest. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has cut its forecast for foreign arrivals this year to a five year low of 26.3 million.

 

 

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