As Cambodia waits for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, some foreigners who have been living in the country since the outbreak occurred are still wondering what to do about their expired tourist visas.
The answer, according to General Keo Vanthorn, spokesman for the General Department of Immigration, is for those on expired visas to return to their home countries if possible.
The only other option is to sit tight.
Gen Vanthorn said that according to Letter No. 761 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign tourists who came to Cambodia after January 1, and have not been able to return home are granted an automatic visa extension.
“With this regard, the status of those foreigners on expired tourist visas remain legal,” he said via WhatsApp.
Gen Vanthorn said he did not know how long the visa extensions would be granted.
When asked what he would advise for those on expired visas, he replied: “Based on my own opinion, I would advise those foreigners on expired tourist visas to depart Cambodia (if they are able to do so) and come back with an E Visa and comply with all requirements.”
He also said they should register with the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS).
The FPCS is a downloadable app with which a landlord can register any foreigner living in their residence.
For those attempting to transfer their expired tourist visas to business visas, the situation becomes murky, as Gen Vanthorn said the immigration department has not yet received updated regulations from the government.
Nob Naly, a Phnom Penh resident who works for a tour company, said dozens of foreigners have come to him asking about their expired visas.
“They are so worried about it,” he said.
Naly added that people who deal with foreigners on tourist visas have asked him about the issue as well, such as human resource staff, owners of residences and administrators.
When asked about working while on a tourist visa, Veasna replied: “According to the law, foreigners holding Visa T [a tourist visa] cannot work.”