BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Immigration Bureau on Wednesday issued a grave warning that foreign tourists who over-stayed and have not renewed their visas will face hefty fines and imprisonment.
Foreign nationals need to have their tourist visas renewed by Sept. 26 or face a charge of overstaying, warned Pol. Col. Pakpong Sai-ubol, deputy spokesman of the Immigration Bureau.
Pakpong said there are currently more than 150,000 foreign nationals who have over-stayed their visas in Thailand, with many citing the inability to return to their homeland because of air travel restrictions and the pandemic ravage back home.
“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act,” Pakpong said, adding that offenders would also be deported to their countries of origin.
According to the Thai immigration law, anyone who has overstayed their visa for more than 90 days is barred from re-entering the kingdom for one year.
The blacklist extends to a lifetime if the overstaying period exceeds 10 years.
Pakpong said the Thai Immigration had already extended the foreign visitors’ visas several times free of charge due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic since late March when international flights were suspended.
“The Immigration Bureau has been very generous in giving a reprieve to the foreign tourists by automatically extending visas,” said Pakpong, “however the grace period will end this Saturday.”
Failure to report to obtain a visa renewal by the deadline will incur a daily fine and lead to authorities tracking down tourists at addresses kept in the Immigration Bureau’s database, he said.