Update: PM Prayut signs the order on Wednesday afternoon.
BANGKOK — The Immigration Bureau on Wednesday said the government has approved the plan to offer automatic visa extensions for foreigners, though it will not come into effect until it has been signed by the Prime Minister.
Immigration spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon said a set of new rules, which also includes visa amnesty, has been approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and is due to be inked by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. The measure followed complaints of overcrowding and risk of coronavirus infection at immigration offices across the country.
“It will be signed by the PM soon,” Col. Phakkhaphong said. “Please wait for official announcements and don’t fall into online rumors.”
Details of the new rules emerged yesterday after well-known blogger and longtime British expat Richard Barrow wrote on his social media platforms that the bureau has proposed plans to give every foreign national an automatic 30-day stay extension, citing sources within the immigration.
Barrow also said that the 90-day reporting will be temporarily suspended and those who have obtained permanent resident status will not lose their status if they are not able to return to Thailand within one year period.
Visa amnesty will also be granted to every foreigner, but the post did not elaborate on how it will be enforced.
The Immigration Bureau has already approved the proposal to offer automatic extension of stay to foreigners in #Thailand. They are waiting to implement it but they cannot do anything until it has been signed by the PM. They understand your anger & ask you to be patient. THREAD >>
— Richard Barrow in Thailand 🇹🇭🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) April 7, 2020
“This is ready to be implemented straight away, but the Immigration Bureau cannot start until it has been signed by the PM,” Barrow wrote. “From what I understand, it’s already in the prime minister’s office. They are optimistic he will sign it very soon.”
He said immigration officials contacted him after photos of long queues at immigration offices across the country that he posted and became viral caught their attention.
“I just got off the phone with another Immigration official. So, it looks like the photos that I tweeted of long queues have caught the attention of the right people,” Barrow wrote. “They wanted me to share with you some details about the automatic extensions coming soon.”
Although the spokesman confirmed the details given by Barrow, he said members of the public should wait for official announcements from the bureau to avoid misunderstandings.
“Who is he? He is not the immigration bureau. How could he come out to say something like that?” Col. Phakkhaphong said in an interview. “We will make official announcements when it becomes effective.”