-- May 2014 ~ Travel and Immigration 101
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thailand Tightens their Travel Rules

Foreign nationals residing in Thailand will no longer be able to exit and then re-enter the kingdom via a land border crossing in order to gain another 30 or 15 day stay in Thailand.
It is part of a wider crackdown on foreigners who either work or stay in the country for extended periods without obtaining a non-immigrant visa.

Officials says they are only applying existing laws to cut down on foreigners who illegally start a business, while holding a tourist visa or are linked to international crime.

Thaivisa.Com broke the news on Saturday after contacting the Immigration Bureau, which confirmed the new regulation started Saturday 10 May.

This latest development follows reports, last week, of an Immigration crackdown at the border checkpoint in Ranong, a popular coastal town for Phuket expatriates seeking to renew their visas. Foreigners working in Phuket did visa-runs to Myanmar from the border town of Ranong. They were told that after three consecutive visa-runs to Myanmar they would be refused re-entry when they returned to Thailand.

They are being advised to travel to a country that has Thai embassy or consulate to obtain a new visa.
However, non-immigrant visa, or tourist visa holders, with remaining entries on their visa can exit and enter Thailand as before. Retirees with annually renewed visas report to Immigration bureaus, every 90s days but they do not need to exit the country for the duration of their visa.

Thaivisa.Com reported that the new measures target 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.

From today 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 neighboring country or overseas.

The regulation gives a boost to neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, popular destinations to renew visas and enjoy a holiday at the same time.

Immigration officials also confirmed to Thaivisa.Com that further restrictions are due, 12 August, to remove loopholes and tighten visa procedures.

It is understood that the new regulation will prohibit back-to-back border runners who stay for an extended time in the country without a proper visa from a consulate or embassy overseas, or an extension of stay granted by the Immigration Bureau in Thailand.

Thaivisa members contacted the website and confirmed restrictions are being enforced at the Mae Sai border crossing in Chiang Rai province that resulted in some travelers being stranded in Tachilek, Myanmar.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

DFA Offers Free Replacement of Substandard E-passport Covers

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is offering free replacement of e-Passports whose covers have peeled off because they are substandard.

“The DFA urges holders of e-Passports with serial numbers EB0000001 to EB1267350 with detached covers to come to the Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-Aseana), the nearest Satellite Office (if residing in Metro Manila), or the nearest Regional Consular Office (if residing outside of Metro Manila),” it said in an advisory Tuesday.

“Passport holders will present their passports for inspection and examination in order to obtain the appropriate assistance,” DFA said.

Free replacement will be granted if the following conditions are met:

  1. If the applicant fills up the required replacement forms;
  2. If upon investigation and examination the e-Passport is deemed substandard; and
  3. If the holder surrenders the detached e-Passport to the Department.

Replacement with corresponding pay will be followed if:

  1. Majority of the pages have been used and the e-Passport’s condition is the result of wear and tear; and
  2. The holder of the detached e-Passport refuses to surrender said passport to the Department.

In a letter to the editor published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 1, 2014, Quentin San Diego shared his experience during a trip to Russia where authorities had closely examined his passport which was falling apart for three hours.

“Back in Manila, I saw that my passport was falling apart. The leaves of my passport were disengaging from the glue,” he wrote.

“On April 4, 2012, I wrote a letter of complaint to the DFA. To make a long story short, the DFA changed my passport, but they wanted to charge me for the replacement. I refused to pay, saying that the defect in my passport was their fault, not mine,” San Diego wrote.

There were three others also who had their passports changed because of the “inferior, defective and self-destructing passport,” one complainant, who was bumped off a flight, had told San Diego.
“I suggest that the DFA should be investigated for providing inferior, substandard and imperfect passports,” he wrote.

The DFA has yet to issue an explanation regarding the alleged substandard passports.

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