Tourist Visas 
 
The news from Cambodia is not good right now if you're looking for a visa. It's taking four which days to get a visa now which means if you go on Wed-Fri then you'll end up being there six days because of the weekend. There are two better alternatives: Laos, which takes two days and Singapore which takes only one night. Vientianne in Laos isn't exactly the most exciting city in the world but it's a peaceful place to relax. Singapore's Thai embassy is uncrowded generally and it will only take you about 30 minutes to get your application in and five minutes the next day to collect your passport. We also heard news from someone who went to Kuala Lumpur for a tourist visa and was refused because they had already gotten their last three visas there and this would have been the fourth. Looks like maybe it's a good time to visit different places in the region.
We've now also heard of people with 3-4 tourist visas, some with extensions, being given a red stamp in their passports in Penang when they apply for another one. The actual stamp said this: Remark; The holder of this passport travels to Thailand under a tourist visa several times which may result in refusal of a visa in the future. These people are then required to go back to their home country before they can get any more tourist visas. So Penang sounds like a place to avoid for now, at least for a tourist visa. Others seem to be okay. If you haven't been here long then be advised that there is a sort of merry-go-round that seems to always play out in regard to getting visas from Thailand's neighboring countries. It seems like the embassies take turns being very lenient with their visa policy and very strict. That's why we publish this newsletter: to let you know the best place to go at any given time because these things change without notice.

Non-Immigrant O Visas 
 
Things appear to be quite easy in Kuala Lumpur right now except for one small hitch. Apparently, the form that you can download from the KL embassy website is not the same as the one that they issue at the embassy so don't bother downloading and filling it out. You'll just have to do it again.
We recently heard that a trip to Savannakhet on the Thai-Cambodian border is a pleasant way to get your visa.  We know of one person that received a one-year multiple entry marriage visa and wasn’t even asked to show any financial information. The consulate was uncrowded, the bus trip from Bangkok to Mukdahan, the closest town on the Thai side of the border, was an overnight one but there are flights directly there on Laos Air and the town itself is quiet and relaxing with good, inexpensive food. This seems like a good alternative to some of the more distant and expensive locations.
We’ve received conflicting reports about Singapore lately, although it does always seem to be relatively uncrowded and efficient. One person commented on the bank statement that is needed: make sure it is very recent, like days before your visit to the embassy. Another person remarked on the general rudeness of the staff and the arbitrary way in which some people seem to be rejected. This contrasts with some of our entries above in regard to other locations. Oh, and when you are given a slip of paper with a number on it for picking up your passport, do not lose it. If you get your papers in by the morning then you can pick up your passport between 2-3 PM the next day.

 Non-Immigrant B Visas  

Singapore crops up again with B visas and here there is even more back and forth between people who have good experiences and people who don’t. One very recent report concerns someone who was given their B visa but only for 90 days. The person didn’t receive much of an explanation for it and wasn’t really happy about it for obvious reasons.
Kota Bharu, just over the Thai-Malaysian border, has been mentioned recently in a couple of positive reports. It’s a little harder to get to than some locations but is not that busy. You get your paperwork into them in the morning and pick up your passport the next morning. It’s in a strictly Muslim area so the office is closed on Friday and Saturday and the hours are 9-noon and 2-3:30.

The Truth About Overstays 

Immigration has gradually been getting stricter about overstays so if you've overstayed you should take care of it immediately. The longer you wait the worse it gets, and not just from the financial aspect. You want your passport to look as squeaky clean as possible and overstays are now being looked upon in a different light. The crackdowns, restrictions and policy changes that we see all the time usually mystify us when it comes to figuring out the why behind whatever change has been made. One thing that you have to realize, to make a least a little sense out of what's going on, is that many of the changes are done in reaction to what certain countries' nationals are doing and that it has little to do with westerners. Citizens from Middle Eastern and some other Asian countries can be doing things that the Thai government is trying to stop and the only way for them to accomplish their goals is to make changes that affect everyone. Overstays are part of this. People from some of these countries who abuse the overstay policy can create a situation where the government has to crack down. That may be what's happening now and we've certainly heard things to this effect over the last several months but the bottom line is, don't overstay and if you do then clear up your status as fast as possible.