Blacklisting Beckons Visa Overstayers

Published on 10th December 2015 by Stickboy BKK

The interwebs went wild in the summer of 2014 when a proposal by the Immigration Bureau to ban those who had overstayed their Thai visa for up to ten years was announced.

At the time it was a huge story and talked about on forums and blogs for weeks, however, the document was never signed or published in the Royal Gazette so didn’t come into force despite warnings being posted in immigration offices around the country and on some routine paperwork.

Talk of the blacklisting proposal has bounced around ever since with occasional mentions. It resurfaced again in the mainstream news around mid October when a revised version was approved by the Interior Ministry and put before the Prime Minister.

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Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prausoontorn announced on Wednesday 9th December that the PM had approved and signed the latest proposal on November 27th adding he expects the new rules to come into force around the end of March, beginning of April 2016.

The reason for the three month delay in implementing the approved blacklisting ban isn’t clear.

Under the new regulations, overstayers who turn themselves in would be banned from re-entering Thailand for one year if their overstay period exceeds 90 days.

The ban extends to three years if the offender has overstayed more than one year with those exceeding three years banned for five years. Anyone who has an overstay of more than five years will be blacklisted for 10 years. All bans start from the day violators leave Thailand.

The penalties for offenders arrested are much harsher with anyone caught overstaying less than a year facing a five year ban and those overstaying more than one year unable to return to the Kingdom for 10 years.

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Overstaying is common because the penalties are weak and outdated. Offenders are fined 500 baht per day, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht with no restrictions on re-entry. Those who cannot pay their fine are jailed equal to 200 baht a day before being deported.

With blacklisting beckoning I’m curious if immigration officers and police will be pro-active in hunting down overstayers as it appears on the surface they are more than capable of tracing anyone staying in Thailand illegally as we have seen in recent months.

A squad of officers doing random checks around the Sukhumvit strip would be a good place to start and likely turn up plenty of violators, at the same time clearing the area of the African undesirables who conduct their criminal business out in the open every night.

Expat numbers in Pattaya could drop dramatically too if regular visa checks were to be carried out as that seems to be where most of the overstay stories covered here come from.

No doubt expats and tourists won’t be happy if spot checks around the country were to become the norm but I could care less. It’s easy to carry a laminated credit card sized copy of your main passport page with the visa page on the reverse to prove your legal status. The real thing can stay safely locked up in the safe at home or hotel and be presented if required.

If the new rules do become law next year I wonder will the guys who have been here for 20 years without a visa do something about their status or carry on as they have been? I’ve heard of quite a few people living in Bangkok for decades with no visa. How they manage it I’ve no idea. Maybe they just stay holed up leaving their rooms only to buy supplies but it can’t be much of a life knowing you could be arrested and jailed for something you could easily sort out with a few thousand baht.

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