Vol. VII No. 53 - Tuesday
December 30 - January 5, 2009

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Visa conundrum


Visa conundrum

Dear Editor
After reading last printing, (Dec 1-15), about the 15-day visa rule and this printing, (Dec 16-22), about retirement visas, I’d like to share my unhappy experience with you.
I have visited Chiang Mai for 4 months for the last 5 consecutive years. I’ve always taken a visa run every 30 days, except last year when the new rule was passed that CM could produce a 3 month extension. I took advantage of that with no problem.
This year when I went to get an extension, Immigration said I needed to be at their office 21 days before my stamp expired. Of course I wasn’t, as I wasn’t aware of that new rule! So now I have to make another visa run which will give me 15 days, then I have to buy a 7 days extension for l,900 baht to cover a 21 day period, then they will give me a 3 month extension for 2,000 baht. They could have given us fair warning about this 15-day visa rule change.
After reading articles in CMM regarding lay-offs likely, Bangkok airport protesters causing tourist delays and cancellations, global economy weakening and now unfriendly visa laws, (which may lose more tourists), I’m wondering if Thailand really wants the tourist trade. I won’t be surprised if the tourist industry declines even faster as a result of this new rule. I know I’ll think twice about returning.
The American Embassy gave me a paper listing checkpoints and a website for more information, www. immigration.go.th. When I got on the website, it was in the Thai language. How does that help Americans who speak English? I called the Embassy, but alas, I could not get a live person to help me.
Thanks for listening


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