Lao nationals flood consulate for visas

Lao nationals flood consulate for visas

Migrants in race to beat govt deadline

Health screening at the Lao consulate in Khon Kaen on Thursday. (Photo: Chakkrapan Natanri)
Health screening at the Lao consulate in Khon Kaen on Thursday. (Photo: Chakkrapan Natanri)

Khon Kaen: The Lao consulate in this northeastern province was on Thursday flooded with several hundred Lao nationals seeking certificates required to renew their visas.

Cabinet permission for migrants stranded in Thailand during the Covid-19 outbreak to stay on legally is due to end on Saturday, a source said.

As the Thai-Lao border remains shut, Lao migrants in Thailand are required to have their visas renewed at the Immigration Bureau's offices before the deadline passes.

Before these migrants can go to the immigration office for visa renewals, they must have an immigration certificate from the consulate.

Many Lao nationals have been heading to the consulate since Monday, but the number of visitors surged on Thursday as the deadline drew near.

Traffic on Mitraphap Road outside the consulate became heavily congested.

That was caused by not only the presence of a larger than usual number of various types of taxis taking Lao visitors to and from the consulate, but also the presence of vendors offering a quick document-copying and delivery service.

Khon Kaen governor Somsak Changtrakun said the province's communicable disease committee had been asked on two occasions this week to send a disease control team to the consulate to ensure Covid-19 prevention measures were in place at the consulate as it received overwhelming numbers of visitors.

Last week Pol Col Pakpong Sai-ubol, deputy spokesman of the Immigration Bureau, warned that more than 150,000 foreign nationals need to have their tourist visas renewed by tomorrow or face a charge of overstaying.

Overstaying tourist visas is punishable by both a jail term and a fine under the Immigration Act, he said, adding offenders would also be deported to their countries of origin.

The penalty for overstaying 10 years is being banned from the country for life.

A source at the bureau said authorities were concerned some stranded tourists might not turn up to request visa renewals.

Some stranded tourists might also take up employment illegally as a means of gaining financial support and refrain from contacting their respective embassies in Thailand.

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