There has been a lot of news recently about a crackdown on people working and staying illegally in Thailand. We’ve heard a lot about the so-called “border runs” being outlawed. Before, people were leaving the country and coming back straight away with a 15/30 day visa exemption stamp. Many were doing this back to back so that they could work illegally in Thailand over a long period. This is what they are targeting now. 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. At the moment, it is safe to arrive at the airport, but after 12 August 2014 the crackdown will cover every land and air border checkpoint.
They are also being strict with people who overstay in Thailand by blacklisting them. Did you know, if you are caught with an expired visa, even just a few days, you will be banned from entering Thailand for FIVE years. The following are the penalties for overstaying which is posted at Samut Prakan Immigration:
In the Case the Alien Surrenders Himself/Herself:
- 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
In the Case that the Alien is Apprehended:
- 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
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. I would suggest that 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.
As a side note, I just found out that 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 aren’t ready, Immigration will allow you to be late. 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. But, 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. 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.
UPDATE on 22nd JULY 2014: Immigration have removed the “lifetime” ban for those people who overstay more than 10 years