Staying in Thailand for an extended period of time, or perhaps even living here more or less permanently, has never been easy for Farangs aged under 50 years old who neither legally work in Thailand or are legally married to a Thai citizen.
Granted, you could treat yourself to a so-called Thailand “elite card”? Fees start at something like 500,000 Baht for a five-year multiple-entry visa. Or if you find that too dear then how about learning some Thai and applying for a good old ED (education) visa? But that’s not as hassle-free and cheap as it used to be either anymore since new rules took effect in 2014.
So most long-term tourists under 50 would stick to back-to-back tourist visa (SETV), go on a visa run to Laos or elsewhere in the region every couple of months and so try to bypass a system of rules that have been getting increasingly tight.
The Thai Cabinet has agreed on Tuesday to extend the free tourist visa scheme for visitors from all countries for another six months until the end of August 2017.
The free visa promotion was initially launched on December 1 in order to increase the number of foreign visitors during the peak season and specifically aimed at countering a sharp drop in arrival numbers from China.
The “border run” rules and the “visa exemption” scheme, which allows nationals of more than 40 countries to temporarily visit Thailand without a visa, have recently been substantially clarified and standardized.
On one hand, they’ve become considerably stricter. A few weeks ago only, we reported that foreigners who enter Thailand without a visa via a land border crossing can now do so only twice per calendar year. Entries through international airports are not affected by this new regulation, only so-called border runs.
Those who seek to enter Thailand without a visa via a land border checkpoint for a third time in a calendar year may be denied entry and asked to apply for a regular visa first.
But there were also some good news.