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My girlfriend and I will go to Laos for one year. She will have work there. We are not married and, anyway, the situation doesn't allow anything but a tourist visa for me because I will continue to work for a French business, telecommuting. I will maintain a tourist legal status.

Laos issues one month tourist visas on arrival. You can renew them twice (up to three months) at the immigration office if I got the correct information. After that, you have to exit the country and enter again to get a fresh visa on arrival, that will be valid for one month, renewable two times.

People on forums told us that you can get infinite visa renewals at the border, but that seems odd to me. They said:

you can go in, and out, and in, and each time you got a fresh visa on arrival from the local immigration office.

I can't get an official confirmation for this statement. What are the rules? Is there some under the hood rules?

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This is not unusual in developing countries that have not decided they have a problem with tourists staying and extending over and over. Thailand for instance now says they won't let people do this, but in reality they do still actually allow it. –  hippietrail Sep 18 '13 at 13:48
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Thanx @hippietrail for your comment and for turning this question language to valid English –  smonff Sep 18 '13 at 14:16
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I don't see any problem. You leave the country, you come back and get a new visa. Very easy from Vientiane. But no I also didn't find any official statement that you can do visa runs infinitely. Just make sure you have enough pages in your passport ;-) –  greg121 Sep 18 '13 at 15:03
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To add a first-hand account, I met two fellows in Laos (and had a look at their passports) who did five consecutive visa runs into Thailand at the border near Pakse in Lao (so 6 one-month visas in total), plus one 15 days visa extension. The worst I can imagine happening is running out of pages in your passport or having am officer at a remote border eager to get a bit more and argueing on you having too many entry stamps into Laos in order to get a little tip. –  MikeSec Sep 19 '13 at 7:21
    
You might be able to get away with a lot (including indefinite renewal) but do realize than your plan probably involves lying to get a visa. In most countries, if you are working, you would not “maintain a tourist legal status” anymore than someone doing undeclared work for a local business on the same visa. –  Annoyed Oct 21 '13 at 17:25
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1 Answer

I think that your problem here would be that you can't provide proof of income (to show you'd be able to support yourself for a year) without tipping them off that you would be working there but not paying income tax (since your company is not located in Laos and therefore your income taxes would go back to France rather than stay in Laos).

Therefore, it seems like your best bet to do this legally would be to ask your employer to "transfer" you to a local Laos address so that you will be considered as "working in Laos". Then you can also get the 1-year business VISA that your girlfriend got.

If that is not possible, then the only option you have is to leave the country every month and try to get a new VISA by coming back. As you said, this will work for at least the first three months. After that, it may still be possible (some border patrol won't care as long as you pay the fee), but it is also possible they will say "sorry, you used up all your renewals" - so if you go this route, you need to have a Plan B to either go back to France or stay in a neighboring country or something.

If you have been dating your girlfriend for a long time (more than 1-2 years) AND you already live together, then you may be able to get a year long VISA by contacting the embassy, explaining that you have this relation and already live together, and see what they can do for it. I have read elsewhere that some people can get a 1-year VISA to stay with their spouse, so it may be possible to get one for a long-term relationship as well. You would probably need to call someone and talk to them about it though.

Whatever you do, don't try to just stay in Laos with an expired VISA - it's not worth the risk IMO.

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