Staying in Thailand longer than just a couple of months or maybe half a year has never been easy for “professional” tourists under 50 who neither legally work in Thailand or are married to Thai girl.
The problem is there isn’t really an affordable long-term visa option available for foreigners under 50.
Since the beginning of the year the visa situation has only become more difficult, with some saying that the good old days when you could practically live in Thailand on tourist visa or 30-day border runs have basically come to an end.
To start with, since the beginning of 2017, foreigners who qualify for a visa-exempt entry can now enter Thailand via a land border only two times per calendar year.
Granted, this isn’t the first “crackdown” on regular border hoppers. But this time there is in fact a rule in place that restricts the number of visa-exempt entries you can do to just two per calendar year.
What exacerbates the situation is that not only multiple-entry Non-immigrant visa can now only be applied for at a Thai embassy or consulate-general, making a long stay in Thailand even more difficult if you’re over 50.
There also seems to be a crackdown underway which limits the number of back-to-back tourist visas you can apply for to something like less than a handful you should have in your passport.
While there isn’t really a rule that says how many tourist visas you may have in your passport it seems like three or more back-to-back tourist visa or simply “too many” visa stickers in your passport pages may result in a refusal of another visa at least in the Southeast Asian region.
Red warning stamps have been issued by the embassy in Vientiane since 2009. But in general, it was good enough to visit a different consulate in a different country from time to time and just not use the same consulate each time you needed a new visa. Now it looks like the consulate in Savannakhet also counts tourist visas issued in Vientiane and vice versa.
Since the beginning of the year there have also been several reports that tourist visa applications were rejected e.g. in Laos or that applicants had to show a sufficient amount of money in the bank etc. in order to get another tourist visa.
In fact, a number of foreigners were in recent weeks also denied entry at immigration checkpoints even though they had freshly issued tourist visas in their passports.
So what can you do? Get a new naked passport from your embassy in Bangkok? Leave the country for the beaches and birds of Cambodia for a while? As usual, only time will tell how would-be long-stayers under 50 will be able to cope with the new visa situation.