Thailand Grants Visa Extensions for Foreigners Impacted by COVID-19

Posted by Written by Ayman Falak Medina Reading Time: 2 minutes
  • On April 8, 2020, the Thai government granted visa extensions for foreigners unable to leave the country due to the nationwide lockdown.
  • The lockdown came into effect on March 22, 2020, and prevents foreigners from entering or leaving the country until April 30, tentatively.
  • Thai nationals, work permit holders, and resident visa holders currently overseas must present fit-to-fly health certificates if they want to return to Thailand.

On April 8, 2020, the Thai government granted visa extensions for foreigners unable to leave the country, due to the closure of the country’s borders under the COVID-19 state of emergency status.

The country had temporarily closed its nine border checkpoints on March 22, 2020 – in a move to prevent the spread of the virus. All the access points, whether by land, sea, and air, are closed until April 30 with provinces also ordering their own shutdowns and restrictions.

Foreign visitors are effectively banned from entering the country with only members of diplomatic missions and holders of work permits able to enter. Thai nationals wishing to return from overseas must present fit-to-fly health certificates.

The country has also suspended the issuance of visa-on-arrival until September 30, 2020, and national carrier Thai Airways has cancelled most flights to Europe and the Asia Pacific until May.

Visa extension for foreigners

The automatic visa extension for foreigners applies to visa-on-arrival holders or those under visa waiver programs and is aimed at reducing queues in immigration centers around the country by visitors looking to extend their visas.

Resident visa holders

Foreigners holding resident visas and are currently overseas can return to Thailand if they present fit-to-fly health certificates. If they are unable to return to the country, the government will automatically extend their deadline for compulsory return – holders of this visa type are allowed to be overseas for only one year from their date of departure.

Visas that expired on March 26, 2020

Foreign visitors whose visas have expired on March 26, 2020, or thereafter, will receive automatic visa extensions until April 30 of the same year. This is also applicable for those whose expiry date falls between March 26 and April 30, 2020.

Visitors from neighboring countries

Visitors (mostly migrant workers) from neighboring countries that hold a temporary border pass issued on March 23, 2020, and after, will be allowed to stay in Thailand until November 30, 2020, or when the border reopens.

An estimated four to five million migrants are employed in Thailand from neighboring countries, namely Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao DPR, and Myanmar.

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