“Visa Run” Crackdown – Only One Entry Via Land Border Crossing

From Saturday, May 10, 2014, foreign tourists and expats in Thailand will reportedly no longer be able to continuously exit and then re-enter the kingdom via a land border crossing in order to gain another 30 or 15 day stay in Thailand. Instead, foreign visitors will be restricted to a single visa-exempt entry (!) into Thailand. While the full weight of this new regulation is due to be applied only from August 12, 2014 (and “visa runs by air” may also be affected), various reports indicate that the new rules are already being rigidly enforced at many land border checkpoints.
ThaiVisa.com reports that from now on, “visitors can only enter into Thailand via a land border once, after that they will be refused entry to the Kingdom and are advised to fly out and return with a visa obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in a neighbouring country or overseas.”
Non-Immigrant visa or tourist visa holders with remaining entries on their visa will not be affected by this new regulation and may exit and enter Thailand as before. “However, these new measures are targeting foreign visitors without a visa who are regularly entering and exiting the kingdom every 15 or 30 days as a way of extending their stay in Thailand.” In other words, so-called “visa runs” e.g. to the Cambodian border, as have been popular with legions of quasi-expats (we mean long-stay “tourists” who effectively reside in Thailand using the “visa exemption” scheme) for many years, will soon be a thing of the past.
The Bangkok Post adds: “Under the new rules, visitors who leave [Thailand only briefly via a land border crossing] and then try to come back immediately may be stopped, and told they must first obtain a proper tourist or non-immigrant visa, and then return … Officials at border points will use their discretion on a case-by-case basis. If a re-entry is made once or twice, a foreigner may be allowed to re-enter Thailand. But if he has done so multiple times, he may need to be interrogated … Foreigners who cannot convince officials they are tourists will be advised to apply for a proper Thai visa if they wish to remain in the country.”
Coconuts Bangkok clarifies that until August 12, 2014, visitors would still be allowed to re-enter Thailand on three consecutive “border runs” (visa exemption), after which they would have to obtain a proper visa from a Thai embassy or consulate to be able to re-enter Thailand. But: “Any foreigner who completes even one visa run in order to re-enter the country on visa-exemption status is to have his passport stamped ‘O-I’, to show they had already been ‘out and in’ from/to Thailand. Any foreigner attempting to re-enter Thailand after August 12 with a passport stamped ‘O-I’ is to be refused re-entry.”

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