Vietnamese citizens may be required to obtain visas to enter Thailand after new rules aimed at cracking down on illegal migrants came into effect on Tuesday.
According to a bilateral agreement between the Vietnamese and Thai governments, Vietnamese passport holders can stay in Thailand for 30 days without visas if they enter by air and 15 days if they enter by land.
But under new regulations issued by the Thai Immigration Bureau, if Vietnamese citizens who frequently enter Thailand fail to prove that they’re visiting Thailand for travel purposes, they will have to apply for visas.
For Vietnamese citizens who successfully prove that they’re entering Thailand for travel purposes, Thai authorities will decide the length of their stay based on their travel itinerary, instead of offering them a blanket 30 day exemption.
With the new regulations, Thai authorities recommended that foreign tourists prepare papers such as return air tickets and room booking confirmations just in case Thai customs officers required them to show.
Thailand issued the new regulations to crack down on tourists using the ”visa run” tactic to leave and re-enter Thailand on the same day in order to extend their stays or even work, according to the Bangkok Post.
A ”visa run” is used by foreigners to activate an additional entry of their tourist visas, or simply obtain another 15-30 days of visa-free waiver status. Commercial services shuttle foreigners to a border checkpoint where they walk over, then return only minutes later to get a new passport stamp.
How long they can stay depends on the agreements Thailand has with each neighboring country.
In northeastern Thailand, most visa runners are those from Vietnam, South Korea and Russia, the Bangkok Post reported.
Last year 2,812 Vietnamese people were arrested in Thailand, including some 803 people who were found working without permits, according to Thai statistics.
It is estimated that some 500,000 Vietnamese people travel to Thailand every year.