In a recent survey of the most traveled places in the world, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that made it to the top five, and very rightly so. Thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to the Kingdom all year round to frolic on the stunning beaches, explore the many mountains and rivers, and of course, take advantage of one of the world’s most blatant sex industries.
Visits vary from a few days to a few years. Many visit on holiday and never leave, and understandably so. The country is gifted in more ways than one, the people are friendly with foreigners, and the cost of living is amongst the cheapest in the world. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said about the mysticism of Thailand, how it reels you in with its beauty until you find yourself never wanting to leave and succumbing to its will.
Barely a year ago, Thai immigration laws were relaxed and tourist-friendly. Though it varies for some countries, most foreign nationals are automatically given a 30-day grant to stay in the Kingdom upon entry. However, 30 days is grossly insufficient to explore the wonders of Thailand. Border runs were common and most foreign nationals can do as many as he or she chooses, the popular destinations being the neighboring countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. You simply needed to take a trip to the border, bearing your passport in its passport holder, and you get another 30 days.
With the ousting of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, however, immigration laws have since been tightened. Border runs are now limited to 2 instances, after which, a foreign national has to leave the country, passport holder and all, for at least 100 days. An alternative is getting a proper visa, which is a seemingly easy process that actually gets tedious as you go along.
For a fee, Thai consulates abroad provide tourist visas for foreign nationals seeking to stay in Thailand for a few months. If you are already in the Kingdom, you’ll have to take a trip to a neighboring Asian country (or your own country) to get the tourist visa from a Thai Consulate.
It’s a quick and painless procedure. Simply visit the consulate with your passport, safely stored in your passport holder, provide a couple of photographs, fill out a form, and pay the fee. You then get a 60-day tourist visa and you may apply for an extension of 30 days within the country.
Non-immigrant visas are trickier. These are provided for foreign nationals seeking to stay in the Kingdom for a long period of time for employment, business, etc. Non-immigrant visas range from 90-day single entry passes to 1-year multiple entry passes. It’s not as simple as walking into the consulate with your passport holder. You would need to be able to provide several documents, justifying your stay in the Kingdom.
For example, if you are an English teacher employed at a Thai school, you need to provide letters from the school declaring their intention to hire you, your school documents, criminal clearance records from your home country, and of course, your passport in your passport holder. As long as all documents are available, there should be no hitch in getting a non-immigrant visa.
There are more options to getting visas for extended stays in Thailand. However, the Thais are changing the rules quite frequently these days so nobody is really secure. It’s important to keep on top of the latest Thai immigration news at all times. After all, you wouldn’t want to leave the beautiful country in a hurry, passport holder and all.