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COVID-19 Visa Relief Measures

In this article, Tilleke & Gibbins is providing a summary of the announcement from Thailand’s Ministry of Interior regarding visa relief measures for the benefit of all visiting and resident foreigners of all nationalities, and holders of all types of visas, including Thai permanent residence permits, who have been affected by the state emergency.

Following the announcement of a state of emergency on 26 March 2020, Thailand has put in place several measures that limit international travel as part of its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of land borders with neighbouring countries and the prohibition of arrivals by almost all international commercial passenger flights. These measures have left many non-Thai citizens in the country in a difficult position, due to the potential expiry of visas during a period when travel is being widely restricted.  To address the issue, on 8 April 2020, Thailand’s Ministry of Interior announced a notification granting visa relief measures.

The immigration measures are summarised below: 

  • Permanent residence permit holders who have already obtained an endorsement before leaving Thailand, but who are unable to return to Thailand before the expiry date of the one-year period for their return (a requirement to retain their residence status), have been granted an automatic extension to the expiry date. When the situation has improved, they must urgently return to Thailand within a time frame that will be announced by the Immigration Bureau. 
  • Citizens of neighbouring countries who have entered Thailand holding a border pass will be allowed to stay in Thailand while the borders with these countries are closed. However, all border pass holders will be required to leave Thailand within seven days after the borders are reopened.

On April 21, Thailand’s Ministry of Interior proposed a second round of automatic visa extensions for non-Thai citizens in Thailand whose visas will expire on or after April 30, 2020, along with a temporary exemption from the 90-day report duty, due to the continued travel restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet approved the second automatic visa and 90-day report extension as the list below.

  • Visas that expired on or after 26 March 2020, will be automatically extended to 31 July 2020. This applies to persons who entered into Thailand with any type of visa, including visas under the privileges of the Board of Investment (BOI), the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), or the Petroleum Act; visas on arrival; and visa exemptions. After the situation has improved and returned to normal, visa holders must apply for extensions of stay under the normal procedures applicable to their case, unless notified otherwise. 
  • Those due to give a 90-day report between 26 March and 30 April 2020, inclusive, are temporarily exempted from the 90-day report requirement during this period. A temporary suspension of the 90-day report requirement has also been granted until 31 July 2020. After the situation has improved and returned to normal, their 90-day report duty will resume, unless notified otherwise. 

These visa and 90-day report relief measures will officially be implemented when the announcement is published in the Royal Thai Gazette.

For more details about these immigration measures, or for any matter relating to immigration issues in Thailand, please contact Penrurk Phetmani at [email protected] or +66 2056 5509