There is currently a crackdown, or at least a lot more checking, into visa applications coming through the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang. The consulate is a popular destination for foreigners in southern Thailand and usually receives hundreds of visits and applications each day in their newly refurnished consulate offices and residence of the Thai consul general.
The following applies to the Penang consulate and MAY not apply to other consulates or embassies outside of Thailand at this time.
There has been a large increase in activity at the Consulate, partly because of the Covid restrictions being removed in Thailand, expats returning for work and additional tourist and business activity. Additional, the influx of Russian visitors into Thailand, in particular, is causing a spike in visa applications so that they, including many families, can extend their stays in Thailand.
The Penang Consulate is only accepting 50 visa applications per day with the queues building up from 7am in the morning, even through the applicants aren’t permitted to enter until after 10am. Those who aren’t accepted in the first 50 are then sent away to return, presumably tomorrow or the next day. Consul staff, at the pleading of some of the visa agents in Penang, have accepted a few additional applications. Today there were 120 people queuing to apply for a visa to return to Thailand.
With Russian arrivals peaking at the moment – the most numerous arrivals into Thailand each day – the situation for visa extensions – the Thai government is going to be caught between wanting to take them in as tourists (along with their tourism money) and having no way to legally extend their stay in Thailand beyond the current visa rules.
(Russian people can arrive for a 45 visa-exempt stay, extendable for another 30 days)
The cap on applications is applied locally and other Thai Consulate and Embassies around the region may apply limits on visa applications to cope with the sudden surge of applications.
Additionally, Consular staff are checking documentation much more thoroughly than in the past, including calling offices and staff mentioned in application documents and authenticating photos taken of offices and signboards (a frequent requirement for B Visas for example).
In the case of 60 day tourist visas, consular staff are currently requiring proof of paid accommodation for your entire trip AND a flight out of the country before the end of the 60 days.
The Consulate is also frequented by the large number of Thai citizens who live and work in Penang.
For Penang, at this time, Phuket Go would recommend using a visa agent to double check your documentation before applying for your visa. ALL applicants must now apply in person, even if you use the services of an agent to organise your travel, accommodation and check your documents.
All applicants must also wear a face mask at this time when visiting all Royal Thai consulates or embassies.