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According to a report in the Phuket Gazette officials in Ranong immigration have today confirmed that they are turning away foreigners who are attempting to enter Thailand on three consecutive walk-in visas.
This news comes after allegations that the immigration officers in Ranong reportedly stopped ex-pats from Phuket leaving the country via Ranong, a boarder that has for decades been very popular with foreigners doing visa runs.
“We began enforcing the rule from May 3 [Saturday] after receiving an order from Bangkok,” an officer at Ranong Immigration told the Gazette on condition of anonymity this morning. “We have already spoken with several foreigners and strongly advised that they do not exit Thailand to arrive in Kauthaung [in Myanmar], as there is no Thai embassy or consulate there.
“We explained that if they went and tried to re-enter Thailand without first obtaining a visa from a Thai embassy or consulate, we would have to refuse them entry because they would have already entered Thailand three consecutive times on ‘visa exemption’ status.”
The officer warned that any foreigners who chose to ignore that advice might find themselves stranded in Myanmar. He went on to say that the crackdown on the “three visa and out rule’ was aimed at catching foreign criminals staying in Thailand. “This is just the first step in a crackdown on expats and tourists who keep renewing their visas so that they can live in Thailand for the wrong reasons,” he said.
“Some foreigners live here and form their own ‘networks’ to carry out illegal business. Some of the people we are targeting are known associates of international criminals.”
According to the report in the Phuket Gazette, tour companies in Phuket have been notified of the situation so they can explain the rules to foreigners before booking a visa run trip to help try to avoid any problems at the Ranong checkpoint.
“As I said, this is just the first step as we attempt to root out foreign criminals. The next step might be tougher than this one, but law-abiding foreigners should be aware that we are not picking on any particular nationalities – criminals are the ones we want to catch.”
Any foreigners caught overstaying their permit to stay are subject to a fine of 500 baht per day, up to a maximum fine of 20,000 baht.