Generally Speaking

Farangs relying on visa runs to stay in Thailand had reason to panic. The military junta announced in June that it was cracking down on visa runners. Anxious to show the Thai public that they mean business, the military started taking action against foreigners.

BANGKOK: — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok has informed the foreign Embassies and Consulates in Thailand and the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates worldwide about the visa run crackdown, the former in a letter dated June 23, 2014, of which obtained a copy of today.

For the first time in writing, the ministry confirms the Thai Immigration Bureau’s current crackdown on border runners.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the crackdown is aimed to prevent visa runners who abuse the visa exemption scheme from working illegally in Thailand.

In the letter The Foreign Ministry is confirming earlier information that visa runners will be prohibited from entering Thailand as of August 12, 2014.

Long stay visa applicants are advised to acquire appropriate (Non-Immigrant) visas at Thai Embassies or Consulates prior to their arrival.

Previously the Immigration Bureau has announced a crackdown for border runners. The published letter may also be a strong indication that the Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates now also might have been instructed to be restrictive in issuing multiple back-to-back tourist visas.

This was obviously done without much understanding the role that these seemingly parasitic foreigners play in the Thai economy. I wrote the follow comment on Facebook last month.


Fast forward to late August 2014.

True enough, Prayuth soon realised the repercussions that his latest crackdown on visa runners could bring. Fortunately, he made a quick U-turn. I’m not sure what he meant by “register with the bureau”. What I’m sure of is that things will quietly return to the status quo.

BANGKOK: — The military has told the Immigration Bureau to be flexible with “visa runners”, junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday.

The runners can register with the bureau, which will find a sustainable resolution to the problem, he said in his weekly televised programme last night.

Foreigners had been exploiting tourist visas and visas on arrival by illegally working in the country, mostly as English teachers.

When their visa was about the expire, they entered a neighbouring country to apply for a tourist visa and returned to the Kingdom to illegally work again.

The authorities responded by tightening the rules by not re-issuing visas to the runners and they faced deportation.

Prayuth said the change of the visa system concerning visa runners had considerably affected certain groups such as English teachers and academics.

“So, this is an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved, as it can lead to a shortage of English teachers and guides,” he said during his weekly TV programme.

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