As a result of COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the Thai government decided on April 7 to allow an automated visa extension till the 30th of April 2020.

Why didn't the Thai government decide to enforce a COVID-19-related automated stay extension longer than ~1 month?

Upside of a longer extension:

Downside of a longer extension: I fail to see any. The COVID-19-related automated stay extension is expected to be extended, but I wonder if the Thai government has explained why they opted for a short automated stay extension at first. They may have some valid points that I am simply not aware of.

  • This seems like an oddly specific questions second-guessing a particular (and narrow) decision. I'm not sure it admits answers that aren't primarily speculative and/or primarily opinion based. (Unless they went to the trouble to justify their decision on this level of detail.) Apr 19, 2020 at 16:48
  • @Fizz I'm guessing the question must have been raised and that it is likely that Thai government officials have explained why they opted for a short automated stay extension at first. I don't see the length of the extension as a detail. Apr 19, 2020 at 16:49
  • 2
    Some of the points seems quite one-sided; for example if Thailand government agreed with #1 they could just scrap the whole visa program; #3 is void if you interpret automatic extension as a grace measure so that those who HAD TO LEAVE the country are getting just some time to sort their situation and not as a "stay here as long as you want" measure, and the Thai government may expect that giving a short grace period will incentivate people to leave ASAP. And of course the government can think that if needed they can further extend the grace period at a later time.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 19, 2020 at 22:26
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    @SJuan76 the visa program is a way to bring in money. Short stays from many wealthier countries are already allowed under the visa waiver program. Allowing everyone to stay longer without a visa would encourage those who aren't going to spend as much. Anyway, this is an interesting question and there may well be some government statement on this in local publications / broadcasts.
    – JJJ
    Apr 19, 2020 at 22:49
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    Maybe because the national emergency was supposed to last until April 30? Usually these measures are synced.
    – xngtng
    Apr 21, 2020 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Interesting answer from blorg on https://redd.it/g4n057:

The official answer is national security concerns, and whether they are valid or not, that probably is the motivation. There is a substantial segment of the government here that wants to keep foreigners on a very short leash.

Just look at how visa regulations have been tightened up over the last five years or so, although I'm not speculating based on that, they have explicitly said it is national security concerns.


Bureau deputy spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon insisted that online applications are not allowed for this group of foreigners due to national security concerns.

During a national health crisis, the bureau's treatment of this group of foreigners should have been much better.

Apart from the need to be sensitive to their genuine fears of infection in a foreign country, the bureau should not forget that tourism has been the backbone of the country's economy for a long time. Tourism contributes about 20% of GDP, and last year the country earned 1.96 trillion baht from its 39.8 million visitors.

National Security has become a catchphrase used by the bureau in recent years whenever it faced criticism over irrational policies towards foreigners. These include an odd measure to have them report any changes of residence, even temporary, within 24 hours.

If the bureau is concerned about national security, it should rely on strict, specific screening and surveillance to target particular criminal suspects rather than counterproductive blanket measures.

As the virus continues to spread unabated, the bureau should let tourists extend their visas online. At the moment, it is Covid-19 that is posing a national security threat -- not stranded tourists.

Update (2020-04-21):

Foreigners whose visas had expired since March 26 will be permitted to stay until July 31 without having to apply for an extension, said Narumon Pinyosinwat, spokeswoman for the Thai government.

so it seems the Thai government agreed that it makes sense to give a longer extension.

  • @CGCampbell it was a problem because people typically leave before visas expire. Apr 23, 2020 at 21:28
  • @CGCampbell many non-Thais living in Thailand would disagree. Apr 23, 2020 at 22:59
  • I forgot myself. Comments are not for chat.
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 23, 2020 at 23:36

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