What is overstaying?
Overstaying is the act of staying in the country exceeding the duration of your permit to stay as stated by the stamp or visa in particular. If, for example, you’re deemed to exit the country by 15th of March (as stamped in your passport) and you’re still in Thailand by the 16th, you are already overstaying.
What is Visa Run?
One of the most exciting part of a foreigners who stay in Thailand and want to be overstaying is called “Visa Run” (sometimes called “Border Run”). A visa run is the journey towards a neighboring country where a foreigner needs to apply a visa to stay legally back in Thailand. Due to the government’s complicated visa laws and provisions, a foreigner is rendered to apply for it outside the country upon the visa’s expiration. Destinations include all the neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar. The visa procedure in countries are normally the same. A foreigner normally stay outside Thailand for a few days or just a few hour and get back to Thailand again.
When a foreigner come back to Thailand, the Thai immigration officer will stamp new visa expiration day on the passport. He or she can obtain double entry tourist visas that allow them 60-day stays per entry, both of which can be extended for an additional 30 days, for a total of six months in the country This way, a foreigner can get back to Thailand and stay for a period of time a little longer. Read about Visa run in Mae Sai.
For example, before this day, people were leaving the country and coming back straight away with a new visa exemption stamp. Many were doing this back to back so that they could work illegally in Thailand over a long period. However, from July 2014 onward Visa Run has become more risky than before.
Since July 2014 Thailand’s authorities have begun to put in place tough new rules on foreigners overstaying their visa or entry permit. Anyone overstaying their permitted time in Thailand by more than 90 days will be forbidden from re-entering the country for at least one year. However, a proposed lifetime ban for foreigners overstaying for 10 years or more was not included in the new rules.
If you have many visa exemption stamps or even many back-to-back tourist visas then you might find yourself with a problem the next time you enter at a land border. After 12 August 2014 onward the crackdown had cover every land and air border checkpoint. That means nobody with an O-I sign (Out-In) on their passport will be allowed to re-enter Thailand if they cannot produce a proper visa.
For overstaying foreigners who present themselves to immigration at international airports or border crossings, the re-entry bans are as follows:
- Overstay more than 90 days => Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 1 year
- Overstay more than 1 year => Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 3 years
- Overstay more than 3 years => Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 5 years
- Overstay more than 5 years => Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 10 years
The rules are significantly tougher for those who are apprehended before presenting themselves at a departure point:
- Overstay for less than 1 year ==> Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 5 years
- Overstay for more than 1 year ==> Forbidden from re-entering Thailand for 10 years
As from the new rules above, technically, a genuine tourist overstaying in Thailand by just a couple of days who is apprehended on the street could be banned from the country for five years.
Those overstaying less than 90 days who present themselves to immigration are subject to a 500 baht-per-day fine, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht.
The act of surrendering yourself is reporting at an Immigration checkpoint at a land or air border on your way out. However, you need to be careful that while you are on the way, you are not stopped by a police checkpoint. If they check your passport and see you have an expired visa, even if you are on the way out, the penalty will be more severe.
If you are going to surrender yourself, you should do so at the airport. Unless, of course, you live near one of the borders. You then have to pay the daily 500 Baht fine up to the maximum of 20,000 Baht. If you surrendered yourself and overstayed less than 90 days then there are no other consequences.
In most cases, you can extend your permission to stay in Thailand even if it has already expired. For example, if you are preparing documents to extend your stay in Thailand for another year and for one reason or another the documents are not ready, Immigration will allow you to be late, reference here. Obviously that is not advisable as you run the risk of being apprehended. But, Immigration will still accept your application even though your “visa” has expired. In this case, you would need to pay the fine for overstaying. So, if you are late by two days, you will have to pay a fine of 1,000 Baht.
The alternative to overstaying is to leave the country and come back via airport. But, you would then have to start the process again from the beginning. If you already have the work permit, this is also cancelled. If you are in this situation, make sure you talk to your local Immigration first so they know which choice you have taken.
So what are the options?
- If you stay in Thailand long enough, you will know that is crackdown is one big hot operation that the Thai authorities usually do to show off. It is a hot issue now. This is not the first time of the similar crackdowns. We saw something like this at least 3 times in past 5 years, and we believe that in a few years or even a few months from now it will become relax again. Now just follow the proper ways, and once the rules get relax, visa run will be back to business again. Even now there are plenty of agents who offer visa run service. Visa run will still exist for many years.
- Do a Visa Run with country other than neighboring countries. Singapore and China are the next best countries to do and the air fare is cheap too. Leave Thailand and spend a few days trip in China or do shopping in Singapore and come back. Although there is no guarantee of its success, but is less risky than doing with Myanmar and Cambodia at the moment. Also there was no report that a foreigner was apprehended because of this.
- Getting a longer-term visa to stay in Thailand. Though tourist visas are convenient, it can eventually become a hassle to continually need to leave and apply for a new one, and can be stressful if you already have several in your passport. Education visas allow for a one-year stay, and can be obtained by enrolling in a Thai language or Muay Thai class. You’ll need documentation from the school to prove you’re enrolling in a class, but the process is fairly straightforward and costs a few hundred dollars. If you know you want to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time, getting on a long-term stay visa will save you hassle and money down the road. Otherwise, getting a couple of double-entry visas while traveling around the region still makes the most sense.
Final words, Visa run is always risky at some point. For staying in any country, we must have a valid visa or stay permit. So far Visa run is not illegal but it is rather the way to exploit 60-day tourist visas and 30-day visa exemptions. Yes, we should make the most of it. But it is not the safe time time to do. If you can, just apply for the proper documents. There will be nothing to worry about the stay.
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