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After the 13th of August any foreigner doing regular visa runs to extend their stay in Thailand will find they will no longer be able to enter the country. The immigration Bureau has instructed officials to deny entry to any foreigners doing visa runs in order to stop the exploitation of visa exemption stamps and tourist visas in order to live and work in Thailand.
Visa runs have long been a popular option for those wishing to live in Thailand without the appropriate visa, or for those working for employers who do not wish to go to the hassle and expense of providing their employees with business visas and work permits. Companies that offer this kind of service can be easily found by conducting a google search.
For now those on a visa run who are allowed back in will have an OI – Out In – stamped into their passport next to their last entry stamp. From August the 13th nobody attempting to enter the country without a valid visa and an OI stamp will be allowed in.
The immigration bureau has instructed checkpoints on shared boarders to stop visa runners from entering the kingdom effective immediately.
Immigration Division 6 chief Pol Maj-General Tatchai Pitaneelabut, who oversees immigration affairs in the South, said visa runners come from several countries, including Vietnam, South Korea and Russia.
“They come here to work as tour guides, waiters, waitresses, etc,” he said, pointing out that these visa-runners are often based in tourist centres such as Phuket and Songkhla.
However, he said the presence of the so-called “out-in” migrants in the South had been significantly reduced because immigration officials were already enforcing stricter laws.
Pol Lt-Colonel Weerawat Nilwat, an inspector at the Sungai Kolok border checkpoint in Narathiwat province, disclosed that immigration officials at his workplace had already barred more than 100 visa-runners from re-entering the Kingdom.