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  1. #1
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    'Visa Run' - Warning!

    Even if you are only on a one day over-stay do not take any Visa Run Service which runs you to the border!

    There are many companies running out of Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket etc... which offer 'Visa Run' services to the border and back to help you extend your Thai Visa for another 30 days.

    You will find these companies advertising over the Internet and in the local English language newspapers. Most of these companies are respectable and i do not discourage using them....usually.

    Warning:

    Some of these Visa Run Buses have been 'raided' by the police lately and all those foreigners found even on the slightest over-stay (even one day!) have been detained, charged, fined or imprisoned or all!

    It is seriously advised not to take any of these Visa Run Buses if you are on an overstay!

    It is advised, that if you are on an over-stay to travel to the border by yourself

    The police involved on these raids have been taking the law into their hands. Thai law stipulates that a visa over-stay is illegal but if you can prove that you are on the way, or are in the matter of rectifying the problem you are not breaking the law.

    12 foreigners were just, a couple of weeks ago 'raided' in Ranong province (on a Visa Run Bus) and all imprisoned before paying a fine. Rumours are rife that the police asked each over-stayer for 5,000 baht before release, however the pol. officer in charge of the raid denies such 'rumour'

    Don't even bother arguing......on an over-stay? Make your way to the border - by yourself!
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  2. #2
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    I guess this http://www.phuketgazette.net/news/index.asp?id=4826 (article copied below) is what you're referring to, it's certainly worth being aware of. It's been an issue for quite a while I think, I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago.

    I'm curious about one thing you wrote though Steve, that
    Thai law stipulates that a visa over-stay is illegal but if you can prove that you are on the way, or are in the matter of rectifying the problem you are not breaking the law.
    Not that I don't believe you, but is there proof of that (say, a Thai government or police webpage saying so) ? I would have thought that overstaying your visa is illegal, end of story. It doesn't really seem to make sense to have an exception based on "in the matter of rectifying the problem" as that would seem to give endless loopholes to those overstaying. If so it would seem the police are within their rights to arrest those overstaying, though not of course to (allegedly) demand bribes. It seems petty and counter-productive to arrest those on overstays of only a few days though, while at the same time the government is trying to promote long stay tourism.

    I guess the real warning is not just to avoid tour buses once you've overstayed, but to not overstay your visa at all!

    RANONG: “The Ranong 12”, a group of 12 foreign tourists arrested on the morning of February 8 for overstaying their visas, were freed on Sunday.

    The most that any of the 12 had overstayed was six days. Others were just 24 hours over the limit.

    During their five-day ordeal they spent the first two nights on dirty police cell floors in Kapoe District and the next two locked up in minibuses on overnight journeys to and from Bangkok, where they were sent to be processed for deportation.

    The detainees were eventually spared deportation from Bangkok following successful negotiations between their embassies and top Immigration officials in the capital.

    They were then returned, still under detention, to Ranong, from where they finally left the country under expulsion orders. They then re-entered the country as free men and women on new tourist visas.

    The arrests have caused confusion and fear among foreign tourists and resident expats, who for years have been able to depart the country after overstaying – within reason – their permit-to-stay by simply paying a 200-baht-a-day fine.

    One of the 12 arrested, Australian Chris Taylor, 31, told the Gazette today, “We were under arrest the whole time … when we weren’t locked in a cage we were being escorted by Immigration or other police officials … many people did not sleep at all for the whole time … They weren’t giving us information, and when they did give us information they lied to us,” he said.

    He said that when he finally got back to Phuket, nobody could believe he had been locked up for five days because of a one-day overstay.

    “The way we were treated was shocking … Some of the food I couldn’t eat; it was just bloody dog food. The Kapoe Police did their best to accommodate us; they tried to make us comfortable. They did their best with the sleeping arrangements, but I don’t think they really knew what was going on.

    “But the Tourist Police, Immigration Police in Bangkok and especially the Immigration Police in Ranong, none could speak English at all – and they were very rude, treating us like crap,” he said.

    He said that the day before his tourist visa was set to expire he went to Phuket Immigration, where he was told that a one-day overstay would not cause a problem.

    “‘Just do a visa run tomorrow and pay a 200-baht fine,’ they told me,” he said, adding that they should have advised him to extend his visa by 10 days then and there as he faced possible arrest as an overstay.

    Despite all the discomfort, he said he would continue his vacation in Thailand by making new reservations for a flight to Chiang Mai, as his original tickets had expired and were non-refundable.

    “I am just tired and need to rest for a few days first,” he said.

    Australian Embassy officials in Bangkok had done an extraordinary job in negotiating with Thai Immigration officials in Bangkok, he added.

    Another member of the group, Swede Olaf Fredling, also said he would not let the experience put him off vacationing in Thailand. Like his Australian co-detainee, he said the actions of a few didn’t reflect badly on all of Thailand.

    “But my feet are really bad right now from all the standing around. We never got a chance to lay down … but sure, I am going to stay in Thailand,” he said.

    Janpen Munsa, owner of the Penphet Visa Run Company, said the arrests were unprecedented in the company’s six-year history and had hurt her business because former customers now feared arrest if they use it.

    “The company is registered as a visa run business, but they arrested [our customers] – using rude words and bad behavior,” she said, adding that hers is just one of three companies providing the service.

    “Why was our vehicle pulled over and our overstayed customers singled out?” she wanted to know.

    Anchalee Praphut, owner of Angelina Travel and Tour Agency, which arranged the visa tour for one of the overstays, said the whole episode had sullied the reputation of the Tourist Police.

    She had to plead with the police to allow two of the group who were diabetic to have insulin shots, which they had to pay for themselves.

    She called on the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to look into the matter, saying that TAT efforts to promote tourism abroad would be all for nothing if the Tourist Police treated foreign tourists so badly after they arrived.

    Ranong Governor Mekin Methawikul, who was informed of the issue by K. Anchalee, told the Gazette that he had sent a formal request to the head of the Ranong Tourist Police for a report about the incident.

    He said that the Tourist Police Chief told him that there had been cases of foreigners using the visa runs to smuggle ya bah (methamphetamine) into the country from Burma, so his staff needed to check foreigners on visa runs carefully.

    As the Tourist Police do not have the authority to stop moving vehicles, they had called on the Highway Police for assistance. Another bus on a visa run that followed shortly thereafter was allowed to pass by because the police did not want to create traffic congestion, the Governor said.

    Gov Mekin added that, as the arresting officers were low-level police, it was unrealistic to expect them to communicate well in English.

    “The tour company staff, who speak English, should have explained to the tourists what was going on,” he said.

    “I admit this type of thing has never before happened in Ranong and I have told the Tourist Police to prevent this kind of thing from happening [again]. Still, I think the officers did their jobs according to procedure,” he said.

    Meanwhile, a Gazette reader with an expired permit to stay reported that he flew out of Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday morning, February 11, with no problems at all – not even a fine. Mindful of the horrific arrests of the tourists in Ranong just three days earlier, he asked Immigration in Bangkok why they were not fining him.

    "The official smiled and told me that my permit was only a day past its expiry, so no problem. He then stamped my passport with some sort of courtesy stamp and I was on my way to Malaysia."

    That stamp, seen by the Gazette upon the tourist's return to Phuket from Kuala Lumpur, reads: "Overstayed his visa by one day (not more than 24 hours) and has thus been cleared, as specified under the orders of the Immigration Division 2 Inspector.”

    Clearly, the Immigration Police – whose job it is to keep an eye on and regulate foreign tourists – do not regard a short overstay as an offence worthy of much celebration, let alone four days of detention. In this, they differ greatly in wisdom and in stature from the Tourist and Highway Police of Ranong.

  3. #3
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    'Surrending'

    According to Thai Law, Should you wish to 'surrender' (mop tua) yourself by a variety of means. Thai law verifies that you have 'given yourself in'.

    A Tour Bus on its way to the Cambodian/Burmese border is an example of 'surredering' by Thai law. One only has to prove that the border was the destination.

    'Surrendering' to the authorities in the form of which i have mentioned is called 'surrendering' end of story.

    Should the authorities in charge wish to disclaim the objective of a 'Tour Bus' going to the border it is not so difficult for them to do.

    One also has to understand that there is a huge differnece between the 'police' and 'immigration'.

    PS: I only gave the Ranong story as an example, i didnt go copying no news from a paper called the phuketgazetee.
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  4. #4
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    Well, the "Ranong 12" will have quite a story to tell, when they return to their various countries, of Thailand's "hospitality" (and possible corruption). Even if those that endured this draconian treatment return, a lot of potential visitors will probably think twice of visiting at all after hearing of this. Yet another example of those officially involved in Thailand's tourism shooting themselves in the foot.

  5. #5
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    According to Thai Law, Should you wish to 'surrender' (mop tua) yourself by a variety of means. Thai law verifies that you have 'given yourself in'.

    A Tour Bus on its way to the Cambodian/Burmese border is an example of 'surredering' by Thai law. One only has to prove that the border was the destination.

    'Surrendering' to the authorities in the form of which i have mentioned is called 'surrendering' end of story.
    Steve I didn't mean any offense by my post, I hope you didn't take any. I agree with what you're saying in principle, but I was under the impression that 'surrendering' yourself in this situation actually meant presenting yourself voluntarily at an Immigration checkpoint, passport and fine in hand. But that's different to being caught overstaying by police on a tour bus before reaching immigration. Those arrested in this story were caught by police on a surprise raid, I can't really see how that can be counted as 'surrendering'. Even if they would have 'surrendered' a few hours later when they reached the border, at the time they were caught they hadn't.

    Should the authorities in charge wish to disclaim the objective of a 'Tour Bus' going to the border it is not so difficult for them to do.
    Right, I would imagine that the fact that said tour bus was heading to the border (i.e Immigration checkpoint) would be a mitigating factor when judging their punishment, but that still wouldn't mean the overstayers on it haven't committed an illegal offence. If it was legal, why would everyone in that article have all been locked up for days and then deported (including those only overstaying by one day and on a tour bus heading to the border) ? That seems beyond the powers of a few police taking the law into their own hands to me. Well that's just my intrepretation though, nothing personal and feel free to correct me

    One also has to understand that there is a huge differnece between the 'police' and 'immigration'.
    Indeed, it seems the police view overstaying your visa as a deportable offence, whereas Immigration don't view it so seriously as long as you 'surrender' and can pay the fine.

    PS: I only gave the Ranong story as an example, i didnt go copying no news from a paper called the phuketgazetee.
    I know you didn't, I came across it from their website as I look at it from time to time. I thought it'd be useful to post all the gory details here to re-enforce your warning!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesuphan

    The police involved on these raids have been taking the law into their hands. Thai law stipulates that a visa over-stay is illegal but if you can prove that you are on the way, or are in the matter of rectifying the problem you are not breaking the law.
    There you have it 'Mike', the very 'ins ands outs' of Thai law!

    All it counts for at the end of the day...is don't argue with the police!
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  7. #7
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    Another thought...
    "Ranong Governor Mekin Methawikul, who was informed of the issue by K. Anchalee, told the Gazette that he had sent a formal request to the head of the Ranong Tourist Police for a report about the incident.

    He said that the Tourist Police Chief told him that there had been cases of foreigners using the visa runs to smuggle ya bah (methamphetamine) into the country from Burma, so his staff needed to check foreigners on visa runs carefully."

    But these "foreigners" had not got to the Burma border -so how can this be a reason for stopping them?

  8. #8
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    Well I was searching trying to find an official policy explanation, and the official website for the Aranya Prathet Immigration checkpoint there's this...
    *** Please note that if you are on the way to the border, police or immigration officers can check your passport, and if you are found to have overstayed your visa they will arrest you and send you to the nearest police station, and then to court.
    So it would seem to me like they can arrest you legally, but I guess it's really a secondary issue - whether they can legally or not, as Steve says they do and they will! So certainly a warning worth heeding...

    FWIW also, I've done visa runs independently in the past taking a normal bus from Mo Chit to Aranya Prathet. Near the border there's a police checkpoint and a couple of times they've boarded the bus checking documents of the Thai passengers (but ignoring me), apparently looking for illegal Cambodian immigrants. I guess there's no guarantee in the future they won't start checking 'farangs' documents this way too ?

  9. #9
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    I have asked into the law of 'morp tua' (surrender) with a couple of 'knowledgable' people and they have furthened my argument that 'the police took the law into their own hands'

    As i already explained there is the legal clause of 'in the process of surrendering' and through 'respectable sources' i have heard that 'the Ranong 12' would have a 'khong ja dai' chance of suing the 'Royal Thai Police' in breach of 'wrongful arrest'

    This example warning from 'Aranya Phathet Immigration' as posted by Mike reflects the issue of 'Unless you are in the know and have a decent lawyer or have connections' you could be taken advantaged of - ie....unless you want to sue, you had better follow the police's advice.

    The arresting officer could argue that 'the visa-overstayer' was on his way to 'go shopping at the border'. In a Thai Court of Law however (if a Farang ever wished to take it that far!) the police would be ...in trouble..?
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    Visa Overstay fine increase to Bt500 a Day

    BANGKOK: -- The fine for remaining in Thailand past the expiry date of a permit to stay, currently 200 baht a day, will rise to 500 baht a day with effect from March 15.

    However, the maximum fine payable will remain the same, at 20,000 baht, Pol Lt Gen Suwat Thamrongsrisakul, Commander of the Immigration Bureau, stated in a document posted in Thai on the Bureau's website. The document gave no reason for the increase.

    --Phuket Gazette 2006-02-21

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