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Posts Tagged ‘O visa’

10th April 2016

In previous postings on this blog the recent policies of the Royal Thai Immigration Police regarding visa overstayers in Thailand have been noted. In follow up to those articles, it should be noted that Thai immigration officials have recorded a sharp decline in the number of people physically present in Thailand beyond the expiration date of their visa. In a recent Bangkok Post article, the drop in overstay was noted:

The more than 39% decline, from 810,522 in October last year to 486,947 in March, shows “our new measure is effective”, Immigration Bureau chief Nathathorn Prousoontorn said on Friday.

While immigration officers chalk up a victory in the campaign to thwart overstaying foreigners it appears that a new issue has come to the forefront. In another article in a more recent edition of the Bangkok Post suspicious trends in Thai Marriage registration numbers were reported:

Bureau chief Nathathorn Prousoontorn said several foreign nationals are believed to have resorted to sham marriages as a loophole to stay in the country…The [Royal Thai Immigration Police] received a tip-off from the Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that at least 150 Thai women in one district of a northeastern province had married foreigners in the past few months.

Clearly, the recent spike in marriages and the recent change in immigration overstay policy cannot be assumed to be coincidental. However, the upshot of these developments is the very strong probability that all upcoming Thai marriage visa applications (otherwise referred to as O visa applications) will be more heavily scrutinized when compared to similar applications lodged in the past. This blogger can personally attest to the fact that since policy changes at Thai immigration in late 2015 the process of obtaining or renewing a Thai business visa has been a more intensive endeavor as Immigration officials scrutinize all business visa applications and supporting documentation extremely thoroughly. Therefore, this recent news regarding marriage scrutiny could easily lead one to infer that future marriage visa extension applications and renewal applications could require more documentation and the backlog for issuing such documents could become exacerbated as a result of the increased scrutiny and documentation requirements.

As a general rule, this blogger has advised those interested in remaining in Thailand to understand that the process of obtaining a long term Thai visa and/or a Thai work permit is becoming increasingly complex. As a result of this increased complexity, the notion that the Thai immigration process is something that is quick and easy is simply a fallacy. Thai immigration matters are arguably as complicated and time consuming as immigration issues arising in countries such as the USA or the UK. Those undertaking Thai immigration matters for the first time are strongly encouraged to retain the assistance of a competent professional.

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30th June 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that Thai authorities may one day require that tourists traveling to the Kingdom of Thailand purchase health insurance prior to being granted entry, to quote directly from the website UPI.com:

Lawmakers in Thailand say they want all foreign tourists to be required to purchase travel and health insurance before arriving in their country. Thailand’s Public Health Ministry Wednesday proposed the measure…The health ministry has suggested the cost of health insurance coverage might be included in visa fees, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said at the meeting. Those visiting Thailand without visas would be required to buy insurance at immigration checkpoints or the fees could be added to the cost of airline tickets.

To learn more about this issue readers are encouraged to click HERE to view this story in detail.

Although this policy is still in the discussion stage, if Immigration officials in Thailand eventually do decide to require foreign tourists to obtain health insurance then surely this would increase the costs associated with being granted entry to the Kingdom. Currently, those wishing to enter the Kingdom of Thailand for tourism purposes are required to obtain a Thai tourist visa. A single entry Thai tourist visa grants the bearer lawful presence in Thailand for 60 days, with an optional 30 day extension. It should be noted that foreign nationals from many countries can currently enter Thailand on a Thai visa exemption which is granted at an immigration checkpoint at the foreign national’s port of entry. In most cases a Thai visa exemption stamp in a foreign national’s passport will grant the bearer 30 days of lawful prensence in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Those wishing to travel to Thailand for the purpose of conducting business are required to obtain a Thai business visa which is categorized as a non-immigrant “B” visa by immigration authorities in Thailand. Once present in Thailand if the foreign national holding a business visa wishes to work then a Thai work permit must be first obtained before undertaking any type of labor in Thailand. Those traveling to Thailand to reunite with family may obtain a Thai “O” visa. This type of visa may allow the bearer to apply for a work permit depending upon the bearer’s circumstances. Foreign nationals wishing to retire in Thailand may obtain a Thai retirement visa which will permit the retiree to remain in the Kingdom for one-year intervals. However, those holding a retirement visa cannot apply for a work permit. Also, retirement visa seekers must be over the age of 50 and meet certain financial requirements. Some foreign nationals opt to travel to Thailand in order to receive schooling, in such cases it may be possible to obtain a Thai education visa (officially classified as an “ED” visa). It should be noted that in virtually all cases an ED visa holder cannot obtain a work permit.

For related information please see: Thailand Visa.

 

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26th June 2010

In a recent posting on the Chiang Mai Mail website, issues surrounding foreigners’ rights in Thailand were discussed. The issues came up in the context of a recent road show conducted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners residing in Thailand sometimes find it difficult to fully exercise their rights as the rules themselves can be somewhat vague. For example, the issue of alien registration on a Thai Tabien Baan can be confusing as few foreign nationals are fully aware of their right’s regarding registration. To quote the Chiang Mai Mail’s report about the recent Interior Ministry Roadshow:

Holders of Permanent residency can get a blue book (Tor Ror 14) and holders of temporary visas can get on the yellow book (Tor Ror 13) before they can apply for naturalization. The Provincial Administration reiterated an important point, that foreigners have the right to be listed on the census registration, “It is not well known even among officials. We have contacted registration officials that you have this right and you should insist on it.”

For many, registration on a Yellow Tabien Baan is beneficial because many Thai government offices view a Tabien Baan as definitive proof of lawful presence in Thailand and use the information in the Tabien Baan accordingly. Another issue that came up at the aforementioned roadshow was the issue of naturalization of those seeking Thai Citizenship. In the past, the language requirements for naturalization were rather stringent. During the recent roadshow the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry commented upon the revised linguistic requirements for naturalization to Thai Citizenship:

The requirements for naturalization were laid out, including the income requirements for both those married to Thais and those not married to Thais. The linguistics requirement has been reduced but the applicant must be able to sing the National and Royal anthems. Speaking and listening is mandatory but reading and writing is no longer required.

Finally, of particular interest to many foreign nationals in Thailand is that of the 90 day “check in” for foreigners present in the Kingdom on a “temporary” visa such as a Thai business visa or a Thai O visa. Regarding the Ministry of Interior’s stance on the issue, the Chiang Mai Mail was quoted as saying:

The next issue under discussion was Immigration and the right of habitation. Immigration officials discussed the various visas and how to obtain them as well as how to obtain Permanent Residency. The main issue of contention brought up by multiple Consul Generals, including Japanese Consul General Junko Yakata, was that of the 90 day reporting required of all foreigners on long stay visa extensions. Consul General Yakata told the officials that there are 3,000 Japanese nationals living in Northern Thailand. She requested a simplification of the process, perhaps by extending the length of time needed in between reports.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin requested a change in the 90 day reporting procedure as well, citing the large numbers of Chinese students who attend Chiang Mai schools who cannot take time off from school to travel to Immigration to report. He suggested they open on the weekends for those who have jobs and classes.

The official justified the 90 day reporting by saying “it allows us the best possible protection. If someone goes missing then we have more recent information as to their whereabouts to give to the Embassy.”

90 day reporting is currently required of those foreigners remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Anyone in the Kingdom on an extension must report their address every 90 days. As can be gathered from the above quotation, some foreign nationals in Thailand feel that the 90 day reporting requirement is cumbersome. However, Thai authorities seem unwilling to change the rules as the current system would seem to provide the most efficient method of maintaining records as to the last known addresses of foreign nationals in Thailand. This is important as Thai authorities can use the data from 90 day reporting to apprise foreign governments of the location of their citizens for purposes of death or disappearance in Thailand. In this author’s opinion, the 90 day reporting scheme is rather cumbersome, but no one, as of yet, has provided a feasible alternative which would comport to the needs of all concerned.

For Related Information please see: Thailand Permanent Residence.

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20th May 2010

The following was posted on the official website of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

U.S. Depatment of State
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC May 19, 2010

Statement: Situation in Thailand

I would like to say that the United States deeply deplores the violence and loss of life that has resulted from clashes between security forces and protests from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).  We call on both sides to show restraint and to work to resolve differences through Thailand’s democratic institutions.

We are encouraged by the actions of the Red Shirt leaders who have surrendered to law enforcement agencies and support their call to supporters to return home peacefully.  However, we are deeply concerned that Red Shirt supporters have engaged in arson targeting the electricity infrastructure and media outlets and have attacked individual journalists.

We condemn such behavior and call on UDD leaders and affiliated opposition politicians to urge their supporters to stop such acts.  We remain very concerned about the situation in Thailand and we will continue to monitor those events closely.

At the time of this writing, the US Embassy in Bangkok is closed to those seeking routine services due to the unrest in the areas near the Embassy compound. In Bangkok, the situation seems to have stabilized. However, the city remains tense as most Bangkok residents seem to be hoping for an end to the unpleasantness and a return to relative normality.

On a related note, the Thai Tourism Industry is preparing for a major downturn moving forward. To quote the website ThaiVisa.com:

Thailand’s violent political turmoil has had a “disastrous” effect on the vital tourism sector, the country’s finance minister said Friday, stressing that the overall economy remained sound. “Tourism in value terms accounts for six percent of our GDP,” Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told a Tokyo conference, adding that the sector also accounts for “as much as 15 to 20 percent of the total employment.” “And clearly, with the events that took place over the past several weeks, and the pictures of these events flashing across TV screens across the world, it is going to have a very disastrous impact on tourism.” Thai security forces on Wednesday crushed a six-week protest by anti-government protesters in street battles that left 15 people dead and saw arsonists torch some 36 key buildings across the capital Bangkok. The stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall were among locations torched in the chaotic aftermath of the campaign to end the “Red Shirt” protesters’ occupation of Bangkok’s top retail district. Korn said that “we anticipate that the impact on the GDP of the protest so far is probably between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP.” However, he stressed that the wider economic picture was sound in the kingdom, telling the conference that “we expect the formal Q1 (first quarter) figure to be in two digits” this year.

As we have previously discussed on this blog, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has waived fees for Thai Tourist Visas. However, the fees associated with applications for the Thai business visa and the Thai O visa remain the same.

For further information about attorney assistance with Consular Processing of US visa applications please see: US Embassy. For further information about closure of the US Embassy in Thailand please see: US Embassy Bangkok. Finally, to learn more about Thai Immigration please see: Thai Visa.

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16th February 2010

Thailand is considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world. In recent years, Thailand has boasted some of the highest tourist numbers in Asia, but as the world economic downturn continues, fewer Americans are traveling to Thailand as tourists. However, that state of affairs is poised to change as Thailand is being heralded as a great destination for budget-conscious travelers. In many ways, the buying power of the US dollar has only been slightly diminished in the Kingdom of Thailand and the dollar still represents disproportionate buying power for Americans in Thailand.

In order to remain in Thailand, an American must either obtain a Thai visa exemption stamp or a Thai visa. One of the many questions that many Americans pose regarding Thai visas is: how do I get a long term Thai visa? Many are under the mistaken impression that obtainment of a long stay Thai visa can be more easily accomplished from Southeast Asia. This is often not the case. For many, obtaining a 1 year Thai visa can be more easily facilitated if the applicant is in the United States at the time of application. That being said, proper document preparation is essential and many American applicants opt to retain the services of Thai immigration specialists in order to streamline the process.

The proper visa category is also an issue for many Americans. The plethora of Thai visa categories can be mind boggling, but fortunately there are a few major categories that cover the activities of most applicants. The first major category is the Thai business visa. Thai business visas are perfect for those conducting business in Thailand. These travel documents are also a benefit to those who are seeking employment in the Kingdom of Thailand. In many ways, a Thai business visa is extremely helpful when it comes to applying for a Thai work permit.

A Thai O visa is a sort of “catch all” category that is most commonly used by Americans with family members in Thailand. However, under the moniker of the “O” category there is the sub-category for retirees. A Thai retirement visa can be extremely beneficial for those who simply wish to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand in order to enjoy their so-called “golden years.”

An increasingly popular visa category is that of the Thai ED visa. This visa is often utilized by those in Thailand who wish to remain in the Kingdom in order to pursue a course of study. In many ways, ED visas are very beneficial to those from other countries. That being said, these types of visas often do not confer work authorization and therefore many opt not to obtain an ED visa as it is usually difficult to obtain a Thai work permit.

For more on this issue please see: Thailand visa.

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11th May 2009

Some Visas in Thailand do not confer resident status which can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Thai education visas and Thai tourist visas do not confer resident status and as a result accrual of time spent in Thailand on either of these visas will not count towards the necessary time requirements for Thai permanent residence.

Currently, Thailand is issuing visa exemptions (the right to remain in Thailand without a proper visa) for 30 days at an airport and for 15 days at a land border. However, Thai tourist visas are currently free to applicants at certain Embassies.

Thai “O” Visas or Other Visas, are issued to those who are either a family member of a Thai national, permanent resident, or visa holder, based upon a filial relationship to the visa holder. Currently, it is possible to obtain O visas for Non-Thai children, but for those children under a certain age, it is not possible to overstay in Thailand. This situation is similar in US Immigration where non-Citizen children cannot accrual unlawful presence in the United States. A child may be overstaying a visa, but the child cannot accrue time as a person present in the USA unlawfully.

At one time, Thai work permits were used as a basis for granting business visa extensions in Thailand. Before that time, a business visa extension could be obtained without obtaining a work permit, but this situation was considered unacceptable because it left many non-Thais in Thailand on business visas, some of whom were working, but without a work permit. For a period of time, the work permit was the foundation of the business visa extension application. Recently, the Thai work permit was “untied” from the business visa extension and as a result it is easier to obtain a work permit, but seemingly more difficult to obtain a Thai visa extension.

Many people forget that a Thai multiple entry visa is good until its expiration date and the visa holder will be granted a stay of 90 days upon entry. This leads to the situation where the non-Thai presents his visa to Thai Immigration one day before the visa’s expiration, but is granted entry into Thailand for nearly 90 days past the visa’s expiration.

(Please note: this post is not a substitute for personal legal advice from a licensed attorney. No lawyer-client relationship is created between author and reader.)

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