One day after immigration police announced that more than 9,000 foreigners were arrested in Thailand over the past week, 97.5% of whom were found to be overstaying their visa and being in the country illegally, rumours are once again rife that controversial new overstay rules proposed in July 2014 might actually take effect soon.
In fact, all it needs is the junta leader’s endorsement.
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 from re-entering the kingdom for one to 10 years.
The move is reportedly aimed at reducing the estimated number of 800,000 visa overstayers by 80%. Only in 2013, more than 70,000 foreigners were allegedly arrested and deported from the country for overstaying their visas.
Khaosod English report:
Aiming to reduce illegal immigration by 80 percent, immigration officials have asked [prime minister and junta leader] Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to use his special power granted after the 2014 coup to reaffirm rules introduced last year banning foreigners from Thailand for one to 10 years, depending on the length of overstay. (…)
The rules have already won approval from the Interior Minister and have been submitted to Prayuth to consider.
Under the new proposed rules, if an overstayer gets apprehended in Thailand without a valid permission of stay, no matter how lengthy the overstay is, he risks getting blacklisted for 5-10 years. 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.
An announcement on the immigration website in July last year roughly read as follows:
[If the overstayer surrenders himself at a border checkpoint]
Overstay more than 90 days > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 1 year
Overstay more than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 3 years
Overstay more than 3 years > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 5 years
Overstay more than 5 years > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years
[If the overstayer gets apprehended while staying in Thailand]
Overstay for less than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 5 years
Overstay for more than 1 year > Forbidden from re-entering the kingdom for 10 years
Please note: This is NOT official yet. But if you should currently be on an overstay, it might be a good idea to leave the country and clear your overstay a.s.a.p. and before the new rules take effect.