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Thailand tightens visa regulation

15.09.2006 tags [ knowledge | press-mess ]

Bangkok (dpa) - Thailand on Friday announced visa regulations for tourists limiting visitors to a maximum stay of 90 days every six months, in an effort to put prevent foreigners from remaining in the kingdom on a long-term basis.

Immigration Police Chief Lieutenant General Suwat Thamrongsrisakul said the new enforcement was aimed at blocking foreigners who created social problems and posed internal security treats from living in the country indefinitely.

"Some people were using the loopholes in the old regulations to work in Thailand, while others were staying here to engage in criminal activities," said Suwat.

Under the old system, foreigners from 41 countries that have good relations with Thailand, were granted 30-day tourist visas that could be extended twice within the country.

With a quick trip abroad, one could pick up another tourist visa and thereby live in Thailand on an annual basis.

There is a heavy flow of foreigners living in Thailand to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia on cheap "visa runs."

Under the new system to go into effect on Oct 1, nationals from the same 41 countries will be allowed 30-day tourist visas which may be extended twice, after which the tourists will have to stay out of Thailand for at least 90 days before returning again.

The 41 favoured countries include most European nations, China, Japan, Canada, the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations among others.

"Tourists (from the 41 countries) will not be allowed to stay in Thailand more than 90 days every six months," said a statement issued by the Immigration Department.

Nationals from other countries are only allowed 30-day tourist visas, non-extendable in the country.

The new regulation will likely affect hundreds of English-language teachers who work semi-legally in Thailand, and other foreigners working in Thailand without the requisite working papers.

(pinched from Bangkok Post Sept.15th 2006)