Save on your hotel -

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thai visa run crackdown: Latest update from Thai/Cambo border

- No Out/In for any nationality along Thai/Cambodian border
- Phu Nam Ron, Kanchanaburi refusing to stamp anyone EVEN people with valid visas
- ‘Business as usual’ at Thai-Laos border

BANGKOK: -- Bomber Blame Game Sees Thailand Immigration Abruptly Change Visa Rules (Update #3)

 #Update #3 This story was updated at 11.45pm on Sept 15, 2015: As of 8.00pm Thailand-Cambodia border crossings at Ban Laem/ Daun Lem, Ban Pakard/ Phsa Prum, and Aranyaprathet/ Poipet were refusing to allow out-in or exit-entrance (border hop) visa exempt entries. Tourists able to show... (See details below)

Foreign workers and tourists who use the country’s visa exempt entry provisions are the unwitting victims in a high-stakes blame game being played out in the wake of the Erawan shrine bombing on August 17.
On Saturday morning Thailand border crossings along the Cambodia border, along with the Phu Nam Ron/ Htee Khee border crossing at Kanchanaburi crossing into Myanmar abruptly stopped allowing people to enter Thailand using the visa exempt entry method with some reportedly also not allowing people to depart and return (out-in border hop) to activate second- or multiple-entry visas of any class.

Thailand has six land crossing with Cambodia – Ban Pakard/ Phsa Prum, Ban Laem/ Daun Lem, Chong Sa Ngam/ Anlong Veng, Chong Jom/ O Smach, Hat Lek/ Ko Kong and Aranyaprathet/ Poipet – and all are said to be affected, with local variations as to who can enter and who can not.

The instructions are said to have been issued from “someone high up in the immigration department” according to one visa service company operator who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the need to work with Thailand immigration officials on a daily basis.

According to the visa service operator the affected Thailand-Cambodia and Thailand-Myanmar border crossing received the instructions by telephone late Friday afternoon.

“At the Ban Laem/ Daun Lem border they issued visa exempt entries up until 8am, but only for people who had four or less stamps. At 8am they stopped stamping anyone in, whether they had a valid visa or not, and about one hour after that it changed again; People with valid visas were allowed to enter, but no visa exempt entries”

No mention of the abrupt change in policy was posted on the Thailand Immigration Department website, the move catching hundreds of tourists by surprise.

Equally caught by surprise were the thousands of foreign expatriate retirees and others in Thailand who are required to exit and re-enter the country every 90-days, as well as those in the country on multiple-entry tourist, or business visas.

While visa service companies that cater for the out-in border hopper and tourists travelling overland into Thailand are the most visibly affected by this sudden change in policy, the unseen victims are the tens of thousands of Laotian and Vietnamese migrant workers who use the visa exempt entry method to stay long-term in Thailand, many of them working illegally.

Also affected are thousands of Filipino domestic workers and English-language teachers who also use the visa exempt entry provisions to stay for extended periods of time in Thailand.

According to the visa service agent “the number of tourists, long-stay expats and Filipinos who cross the border each day and come back using the visa exempt entry method is minuscule compared with the number of Vietnamese and Laotians who exit and reenter.

“These companies [who transport the migrant workers] don’t have websites, they don’t advertise and you will have never heard of them, but each day they take between 400 and 800 people to the Phu Nam Ron/ Htee Khee border crossing and another 400 to 800 to the Ban Pakard / Phsa Prum border crossing.

Almost all [foreign] workers leave it until the last possible time to do their visa run so as to get the maximum stay possible. This will cause many of them to be “overstay and now illegal”, he said

 Read more: ABCNews