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Posts Tagged ‘O-A’

10th August 2021

As the current economic situation in Thailand continues down a precarious path due to lockdowns. There are many who fear tourism may not return to Thailand in high numbers any time in the near future. In fact, quarantine rules do not look like they are going away and the Phuket sandbox has proven to be less of a draw than initially anticipated. There are some who have speculated that Thailand may have come to overly rely upon tourism as an integral component of the overall economy. Whether or not this is true is difficult to ascertain, but it should be noted that anyone predicting the events of 2020 and 2021 in, say, the year 2018 would have been called worse names than crazy so the notion that Thailand came to overly depend upon tourism is only an argument that operates logically in hindsight.

Although the Phuket sandbox has been discussed a great deal as of late, there is also a similar program which has been initiated in Samui and those wishing to avail themselves of this tourism opportunity may do so by traveling through Bangkok in “sealed terminals” in order to undergo “sandbox quarantine” for 14 days on that island. Presently, travel restrictions in Thailand have precluded wide travel latitude for those wishing to leave the Phuket sandbox, but this does not appear to currently be an issue in the Samui system. Those wishing to travel to Bangkok from abroad may do so, but they are still required to undergo quarantine in a Bangkok hotel via the Alternative State Quarantine system.

Business travelers to Thailand are not precluded from using either the Samui or Phuket sandboxes so those with a Thai business visa and/or Thai work permit may return to Thailand without undue hardship. It is worth pointing out that Thailand is one of the few jurisdictions in Southeast Asia which is trying to maintain tourist travel as well as admitting non-immigrant visa holders such as the aforementioned B visa holders as well as those holding an O visa for marriage to a Thai or for retirement. Thai Embassies and Consulates are still issuing O-A retirement visas to those retirees abroad. Thailand remains one of the few countries in Southeast Asia actively issuing visas to foreign retirees.

Those seeking visas to the USA may continue to do so under present circumstances although appointment scheduling has proven somewhat cumbersome in recent months as the American Embassy in Bangkok appears to be either understaffed or unable to process a large caseload due to restrictions associated with the response to COVID-19. However, appointments are available, albeit it in a relatively limited number.

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15th June 2021

It recently came to this blogger attention that anyone holding a non-immigrant visa (NIV) in Thailand may soon be required to obtain insurance coverage of 100,000 USD against COVID-19. The following was recently reported in the Bangkok Post:

All foreigners living in Thailand as non-immigrants will in the future have to prove they have insurance coverage of at least US$100,000 (three million baht) against Covid-19. The proposal was approved in principle by the cabinet yesterday and Traisuree Taisaranakul, deputy spokeswoman for the government, said it would apply to all holders of the one-year, non-immigrant visa (NIV). NIVs are awarded in four categories: marriage, work, business and retirement…Ms Traisuree said that since the cabinet had approved the new rule in principle the next step would be for the Immigration Bureau to publish full details and make it official. The Foreign Affairs Ministry will also work to improve the NIV application procedure while the Public Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry will be in charge of modifying related regulations and telling the public about them…

It is noteworthy that Thai business visas, marriage visas, and visas associated with work permits in Thailand were specifically mentioned. Meanwhile, The Nation reports the recent rule changes may provide some relief for retirees in Thailand:

The new rules offer a lifeline for expats over the age of 70 who cannot purchase insurance in Thailand and thus face having their applications for extension of stay rejected…If an insurer refuses coverage due to health risks, visa applicants must submit additional documents including the letter of refusal, plus securities, deposits and other health insurance accounting for at least 3 million baht.

Since the inception of the Emergency Decree in response to the COVID-19 situation in March 2020 there have been a number of changes to rules regarding entry to the Kingdom of Thailand. However, such changes had not yet impacted the immigration rules associated with remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Clearly, the rules are currently undergoing revision. However, it is worth noting that the specific regulations have yet to be promulgated as the cabinet appears to have only approved these measures in principle as of the time of this writing. Therefore, those to whom this announcement may pertain are well advised to wait until the specific regulations are promulgated before making irrevocable arrangements regarding their visa status. The aforementioned policy change does not appear to pertain to those holding permanent residence in the Kingdom of Thailand. We will keep this blog updated as the situation evolves.

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8th December 2020

There have been a number of developments regarding Thai immigration in recent weeks including the recent announcement that the Special Tourist Visa program will be expanded to include more than a limited number of countries. To quote directly from a recent article in the Bangkok Post:

The cabinet on Tuesday resolved to offer long-stay special tourist visas (STV) to visitors from every country instead of only those with low risks of the novel coronavirus.

This news comes as it appears there are again talks of creating “travel bubble” corridors on a bilateral basis between Thailand and counterpart countries. It seems under this travel bubble scheme nationals from some countries may be fast-tracked through quarantine or not required to quarantine at all so long as they remain in a restricted geographic area. As of the time of this writing, such a plan has yet to be implemented. With respect to in-country Thai Immigration matters is noteworthy that the Thai visa amnesty has been extended for those unable to leave the country. Meanwhile, the caseload volume of Thai visas being consular processed appears to be increasing as visa categories such as the Thai retirement visa, business visa, and tourist visa are, depending upon the jurisdiction, opening up. At the same time, there is some discussion surrounding the notion of implementing a contact tracing app for those traveling to Thailand as tourists. It remains to be seen whether this will apply to non-immigrants such as retirees and businesspersons. A notable requirement now associated with Thai visa processing which has become ubiquitous, but was never required in the past is insurance. Insurance coverage for COVID-19 is required for all visa categories including the Single Entry Tourist Visa (or SETV). Concurrently, some of those who were able to avoid needing insurance due to usage of an O retirement visa (as opposed to an O-A retirement visa) are finding that, if abroad, they are being compelled to obtain insurance in order to obtain a Certificate of Entry (COE) notwithstanding the fact that such coverage would not be required if applying for or extending status in Thailand.

With respect to American immigration, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding whether the transition from a Trump administration to an administration of the presumptive President-Elect Joe Biden will change the overall process and paradigm of the American immigration apparatus. In the long run, it is likely that a change of administration would dramatically improve processing conditions for American visas, including K-1 visas and immigrant visas which seem to be languishing at the National Visa Center and at US Embassies and Consulates abroad. That stated, the transition, although likely, is not yet a foregone conclusion as of the time of this writing. Meanwhile, it should be noted that bureaucracies such as the USCIS, NVC, and Department of State do not “stop on a dime” it takes time to reorganize and implement new policy. Therefore, it is likely that substantial changes will not be seen until deep into 2021.

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