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What is a visa run, anyway?

What is a visa run, anyway?

Old Apr 29th 2016, 7:17 am
  #1  
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Default What is a visa run, anyway?

Hi, have picked brains on here a couple of times now - another question if I may.

In a previous thread, now closed, there's a discussion about clamping down on visa runs. I would not be intending to do visa runs in the sense of day-trips to Thailand, but does anyone think it would be a problem to do 2 x 90 days with a gap of somewhere between a week and a month between them, then come back and repeat the process the following year?

Also, would it make any difference where I was coming in from?

I would be able to demonstrate that I could support myself for 90 days without working BTW.

Thanks
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Old Apr 29th 2016, 8:42 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Hi,

There’s some information in this article that may help you.

Malaysia to clamp down on ‘visa runs’ – ScandAsia

Of particular interest was this comment by Immigration director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad:
“Effective immediately, those who make three consecutive U-turns into the country will be held for questioning.”

I think his statement probably refers more to those people doing 30 day visa runs, than those doing 90 day visa runs, and that it would be risky to try to get more than two 90 day visas back-to-back.

I think in your case you should consider:
  • Leaving Malaysia at least a week before your first 90 day visa expires
  • Staying out of Malaysia for at least a week before returning, preferably longer.
  • Carrying your return air ticket to the UK with you, to show to the Immigration Officer if questioned, proving you are a bone fide visitor here for leisure
  • Avoiding staying in Malaysia for more than 6 months a year

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Old Apr 29th 2016, 9:08 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Not a lot to add to JC3's post.

They do seem to like the Return Ticket to "Home" according to friends, so that might be wise.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 4:27 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

That link is nearly two and a half years old.

I live here. I've been out of the country multiple times over the last ten months for periods between three and ten days, always getting the ninety day stamp when I return. My passport is filling up fast! Never been questioned or even given a sideways look. Doesn't mean it can never happen, of course, but my Malay lawyer friend thinks it's very, very unlikely that I would be denied entry.

In times of economic hardship, MY would be pretty stupid to put up barriers to relatively wealthy foreigners coming and spending their retirement funds in the country, don't you think?

Illegal workers and over-stayers are another matter, of course, but I think they're much more likely to target people from non-western lands for that.

Incidentally, I have only once been asked to show an onward ticket by AirAsia check in staff when returning to KLIA. I just said "I'm a British citizen, I get ninety days", and that was that.

YMMV
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 5:12 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

That’s the rub. Everything’s just fine until immigration decide it isn’t.

I guess if you don’t have any assets in Malaysia, haven’t paid significant rental deposits etc. and have another home to return to in a hurry if necessary, without suffering any significant financial loss, then visa running might not seem too risky.

As Epicurious points out wealthy retired foreigners probably escape the net, being viewed as highly desirable visitors, however I get the feeling Cacafonix is not near retirement age.

According to Gov.uk:

The Malaysian authorities are running a vigorous campaign against illegal immigration. Don’t overstay your visa, or violate the terms of entry. Even if you overstay for just a few days, you can be fined, detained and deported.

See: http://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-adv...y-requirements

I think the major problem for visa runners going forwards is Malaysia's introduction of ever increasingly sophisticated border management systems with automated data capture from documents, live biometric capture and real-time processing capabilities.

JC3

Last edited by JC3; Apr 30th 2016 at 5:29 am.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 7:15 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

After my work visa expired, I have stayed on in Malaysia for nearly one year now, leaving when necessary to avoid overstaying the 90 days visitor stamp. I have had a 6 day trip to Lombok, a 5 day trip to Hat Yai (both using cheap flights) and a 3 week trip back to the UK at Christmas.

I am not working with the tourist visa, just taking an extended career break. I have not yet had any problem re-entering the country, not even a single question at immigration.

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Old Apr 30th 2016, 8:58 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by Epicurious View Post
I live here. I've been out of the country multiple times over the last ten months for periods between three and ten days, always getting the ninety day stamp when I return. My passport is filling up fast! Never been questioned or even given a sideways look. Doesn't mean it can never happen, of course, but my Malay lawyer friend thinks it's very, very unlikely that I would be denied entry.
It's all OK until it's not OK. There are those that say it is easier coming into KLIA rather than Penang. I really don't know. I have a visa.

I do know that a retired friend who lives in Penang was doing visa runs for years and years and years and got stopped last year and refused entry back into Penang. They told him he needed to go back to his home country. He spent 2 nights on the floor at Penang airport. He wrote some very amusing posts for Farcebook but I don't think it was much of a joke for him (having done years of visa runs).

This is a real story and a current one (albeit a year old).

I've also been told that there's a new Head of Immigration just been installed a few weeks ago. Do you think things will get stricter or slacker with a new guy in charge? I know what I think.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 10:28 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by Scratcher View Post
After my work visa expired, I have stayed on in Malaysia for nearly one year now, leaving when necessary to avoid overstaying the 90 days visitor stamp. I have had a 6 day trip to Lombok, a 5 day trip to Hat Yai (both using cheap flights) and a 3 week trip back to the UK at Christmas.

I am not working with the tourist visa, just taking an extended career break. I have not yet had any problem re-entering the country, not even a single question at immigration.

Scratcher
I have highlighted the salient points in your post. Firstly, a stay of less than a year is unlikely to lead to questioning, and the fact that you returned to the UK (your "home" country) has the effect of resetting the Immigration Department's count of your visa stamps.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 10:51 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

teejaydee,

The OP wanted some advice on visa runs. I just posted my experience, which is different to the advice posted by JC3 in post 2.

  • Leaving Malaysia at least a week before your first 90 day visa expires. I have never done this.
  • Staying out of Malaysia for at least a week before returning, preferably longer. I have not always done this
  • Carrying your return air ticket to the UK with you, to show to the Immigration Officer if questioned, proving you are a bone fide visitor here for leisure. I have never done this
  • Avoiding staying in Malaysia for more than 6 months a year. I have been here for 1 year less 5 weeks.
It is up to the OP to decide how, when and where to leave and re-enter Malaysia.

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Last edited by Scratcher; Apr 30th 2016 at 11:00 am.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 10:52 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by bakedbean View Post
I do know that a retired friend who lives in Penang was doing visa runs for years and years and years and got stopped last year and refused entry back into Penang. They told him he needed to go back to his home country. He spent 2 nights on the floor at Penang airport.
Would you mind saying what happened to your friend after the two nights at the airport? Was he deported?

My own experience with doing visa runs for twenty-one months (without a return to my home country) is that I was detained and told I could have a further visa for only seven days. After some discussion, I was given the full ninety days but the word "FINAL" was written over the stamp in my passport.

From what I have seen, regular returns to one's home country seem to be an essential ingredient for anyone seeking to live in Malaysia on tourist visas.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 11:09 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by Scratcher View Post
  • Leaving Malaysia at least a week before your first 90 day visa expires. I have never done this. Neither did I, just three-four days before
  • Staying out of Malaysia for at least a week before returning, preferably longer. I have not always done this Nor did I
  • Carrying your return air ticket to the UK with you, to show to the Immigration Officer if questioned, proving you are a bone fide visitor here for leisure. I have never done this Neither did I
  • Avoiding staying in Malaysia for more than 6 months a year. I have been here for 1 year less 5 weeks.
Many thanks for sharing your experience. It helps the rest of us to try and understand the system better.

By coincidence, I too never did any of the first three things you mention. However, I stayed two years (although I ran into trouble after twenty-one months). From my experience, the key is a return to one's home country at least once a year. You have done that, but I did not. The Immigration Department's computer system seemed to flag up the fact that I had not done this, thereby leading me to believe this is crucial.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 11:19 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

I stayed two years (although I ran into trouble after twenty-one months). From my experience, the key is a return to one's home country at least once a year.
This is an interesting observation. Do they log your destination each time you leave? I always thought they just booked you out, regardless of your destination. Do they really check Thais go to Thailand, French go to France.. etc, etc.

Either way, I have always avoided doing a "day trip" (I live in Johor, so a day trip to Singapore is not out of the question) as I thought staying more than a few days (4+ nights) would make a difference.

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Old Apr 30th 2016, 11:19 am
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by teejaydee View Post
My own experience with doing visa runs ... is that I was detained and told I could have a further visa for only seven days. After some discussion, I was given the full ninety days but the word "FINAL" was written over the stamp in my passport.

.
Hi TeeJayDee,

I think you probably fit into the category of wealthy retired foreigner, and yet were still detained, is that correct?

Once you got FINAL written over the stamp, do you know how soon after that visa expired you would be permitted to re-enter Malaysia?

If one is actually deported and that fact is stamped in your passport I believe it can create problems entering other countries too, and it can be several years before one is allowed to re-enter Malaysia.

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Old Apr 30th 2016, 12:49 pm
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Originally Posted by teejaydee View Post
Would you mind saying what happened to your friend after the two nights at the airport? Was he deported?
His Malaysian partner/girlfriend went to Butterworth Immigration and got him let into Penang but on a limited stay. I don't know if it was a week or two, not sure. He had to fly back to UK. They had already booked a holiday back to UK so just had to bring that forward.

They then got married in UK so problem solved . He is back here. I presume, though haven't asked, that he's on the Long term visa that spouses can apply for.
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Old Apr 30th 2016, 2:39 pm
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Default Re: What is a visa run, anyway?

Well, hopefully my three week trip to the UK and France in June and July will save me from the airport floor experience. I'm not sweating it.

If TPTB really want me to spend my retirement funds in another country, so be it.
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