Tougher new immigration rules that may see visa overstayers banned from re-entering the kingdom for up to 10 years have been in the news for more than a year now but, so far, not gone into effect yet. This may change soon.
If you have overstayed your visa this may well be your final call to temporarily leave the country, preferably via an airport checkpoint, and clear your overstay a.s.a.p. Under the current rules, you would only be subject to a fine but could return to Thailand immediately. Not so in the future.
As the Immigration Bureau chief announced on Wednesday, the new rules regarding blacklisting for overstayers are set to take effect “from March or April” 2016 – which would be in less than four months from now.
Following prime minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s approval of the bureau’s proposal on November 27 (which went unreported), a royal decree on the blacklisting rule is now expected to be promulgated in late March 2016. The blacklisting would take effect following the publication in the Royal Gazette.
The immigration chief said the new rules would facilitate the monitoring of foreigners in the country and help screen out “unwanted elements”.
New Overstay Rules & Blacklisting
Currently, foreigners who overstay their visa have to pay of a fine of 500 Baht per day – up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht – but are not banned from returning to Thailand immediately. Under the proposed new rules, overstayers risk getting blacklisted and banned from re-entering the kingdom for 1-10 years.
Once the new rules go into effect, an overstay of more than 90 days will automatically result in blacklisting. However, visa overstayers who turn themselves in to authorities will receive a more lenient treatment than those who get arrested for overstaying their visa.
If an overstayer makes it to the airport and pays the appropriate overstay fine, he will get blacklisted for 1-10 years only if he has overstayed his visa for more than 90 days; an overstay of less than 90 days is okay it seems. The overstay fine of 500 Baht/day up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht still applies.
If an overstayer, however, gets arrested in Thailand without a valid permission of stay, no matter how lengthy the overstay is, he will get blacklisted for 5-10 years.
According to an announcement on the immigration website in July 2014, if an overstayer of less than one year turns himself in at a border checkpoint he will receive a re-entry ban of one year. Those who overstay their visa for more than one year will be banned from re-entering the kingdom for three years.
Overstayers of more than three years who turn themselves in to authorities will be blacklisted for five years, and those with an overstay of more than five years will be banned from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years.
In case an overstayer gets apprehended while staying in the kingdom, if the overstay period is less than one year he will be banned from re-entering Thailand for five years; if he has overstayed his visa for more than one year he will be blacklisted for 10 years.
Please note that these new rules are not official until they have been published in the Royal Gazette. However, if you should currently be on an overstay, this could well be your last warning to leave the country and clear your overstay a.s.a.p. and before the new rules take effect – which is obviously just a question of approx. four months from now.