As a Philippine passport holder, it took me a year to find out that a tourist visa extension beyond 30 days is possible here in Thailand. Before 2018, I thought that I could only apply for a 2-month visa in the Thai Embassy in the Philippines and that it ought to be done right before leaving the home country.
Still, after having found out in mid-2018 that it is very much possible to do a visa extension within Thailand for a Philippine passport holder like me, I began having the impression that immigration rules are as fickle as the officers implementing them.
Prior to my first tourist visa extension attempt in Thailand, I had already taken advantage of a hassle-free Vietnam tourist visa application online. Philippine passport holders can enter Vietnam visa-free for 21 days but can avail of a 30-day or 3-month stay visa on arrival at this link. I stayed in Hanoi for 90 days in two separate trips before August 2018. Tip: Applying for a visa on arrival online is cheaper compared to doing it within Vietnam.
A week before my 30-day visa expiration in Thailand, I decided to go to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana. I have Cai to thank for writing this helpful guide about how he went about with his visa extension in Thailand although he needs to update the faulty link he entered there for the TM 7 Form download.
Staying in Nonthaburi meant I did not have go through the same route as Cai explained in his blog post. I simply booked a Grab Car ride to and from the hotel.
Outside the Chaengwattana Immigration Division Government Complex
Cai also wrote in the article that he was able to successfully get stamped for a visa extension twice. For tourist visa extension, this is not entirely true. Back in 2014 or 2015 Thai Immigration Bureau amended their stipulations regarding visa extensions for some countries, Philippines included, which allowed for 1 30-day visa extension only per trip. I know this because I applied for a second consecutive 30-day visa extension and the immigration officer declined my application but gave me a 7-day grace period instead. It was not bad luck on my part as their immigration rules state this on their website. You can also read about it in other travel forums.
My recent visa extension experience this week was rather disappointing. I went to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana thinking all I have to worry would be the long wait but it was even more stressful than that. The well-meaning immigration officer glanced at the second page of my TM 7 form and cursorily encircled Nonthaburi with her pen. As I strained to hear what she was trying to explain to me in English, my heart sank when she informed me that I was in the wrong immigration office. She referred me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office.
I did a little bit of Google search about cases of foreigners being referred to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office and it’s curious I stumbled upon a blog post detailing that same ordeal I just had dated December 2015. Can you imagine that?! Back in August and September 2018, nobody in Chaengwattana ever told me I was supposed to be in the other immigration office even when I’ve always stayed in the same hotel.
I traveled to Bang Kruai where the Nonthaburi Immigration Office is located, hopeful I could still get a visa extension stamp within the day. I had all my documents in order – a TM 7 form and a photocopy of my TM 6 (departure card) and arrival stamp page on my passport. The officer browsed through them and handed me another form. It was the TM 30 form which was to be filled up by the owner or the manager of the hotel I’m staying in. At that point I decided to call it a day and went back to the hotel to hand the TM 30 over to the receptionists on duty.
Two days later the hotel manager accompanied me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office. As I watched the conversation exchange between the immigration officer I was assigned to and the hotel manager, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t have felt so accomplished that day if she hadn’t shown up. The officer kept coming back to her about that one piece of paper which looked like some sort of certification or ownership.
In a nutshell, landlords or hotel owners/managers are required to register the foreigners staying in their property within 24 hours. This is the reason why the receptionist would ask for my passport and TM 6 departure card upon arrival to make sure they have me on file. You can read more about it here.
For the third time I’ve been doing this, I wasn’t asked about a return ticket or at least a ticket out of Thailand. I do have a departure ticket from Thailand to Vietnam for December 24th which I booked last month.
It was 4:16 pm by the time my appointment there. The office closes at 4:30 pm. I was so relieved to not have to think about this visa extension problem over the weekend and worry about re-booking my ticket just in case.
If you’re ever planning to extend your stay in Thailand, make sure you download the TM 30 form from Nonthaburi’s Immigration website.