Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thai O Visa’

3rd October 2016

In recent postings on this blog we have tracked the increasingly prevalent theme of Royal Thai Immigration Officers zealously enforcing immigration laws and regulations. In a recent posting on the website Asian Correspondent it was noted that Immigration officials have apparently taken their duties on the road as they appear to be traveling to foreign nationals stated addresses in an effort to ascertain if the individual in question actually resides at said address and more. It may be best to quote directly from Asian Correspondent:

Three foreigners living in Thailand have complained of receiving visits by policemen asking them to furnish personal details…[They] were visited at home by the uniformed officials who asked them to provide details like their monthly income, height, weight, and even skin color…They claimed that they were asked to provide the details in the ‘Personal Information’ form from the ‘Transnational Crime Coordination Unit Region 5 (TCCU R5).

This and many other events which have occurred recently with respect to Immigration policy appears to stem from the rather recently promulgated “Good Guys in, Bad Guys Out” campaign. It has been clear for some time that Thai immigration officers are increasingly ardent in their efforts to scrutinize foreign nationals in order to ensure adherence with Immigration law. Until this point it appeared that such zealousness was only experienced when foreign nationals traveled to an immigration office to seek some form of benefit or undertake some activity in an effort to stay in compliance with regulations (visa extension, reentry permit, 90 day report, etc).

From the information imparted above it seems logical to assume that this more fervent scrutiny may result in occasional visits by Immigration personnel to foreign nationals’ residences in the future. This being stated, it is difficult to foresee whether these developments portend the possibility that this may become a routine occurrence in the future or if this situation is simply a “one-off” event stemming from a non-routine set of circumstances. It remains to be seen if circumstances similar to those noted above will play out again in the future.

It should be noted that this blogger has personally received anecdotal information describing situations similar to those noted above. It may be of interest to readers that in all such instances this blogger has personally become aware of, the foreign national in question was present in Thailand on a Marriage visa. As has been noted in previous postings, it appears Thai Immigration officials are taking steps to tighten up the regulations and enforcement protocols pertaining to Thai marriage visa holders. This is not to imply that holders of other visa categories have not been subjected to heightened scrutiny (which this blogger can attest has definitely occurred, especially in the context of business visa extensions), but it appears that presently Thai immigration officers are taking a keen interest in those present in Thailand on a Thai O category marriage visa.

more Comments: 04

4th September 2016

In a previous posting on this blog the issue of one year multiple entry Thai visas issued at Royal Thai Honorary Consulates in the United Kingdom was discussed. It appeared at that time that honorary Consulates were no longer allowed to issue such travel documents as they could only be obtained from the Royal Thai Embassy in London. This same trend appeared across the Channel as Honorary Thai Consulates on the Continent apparently were also being foreclosed from issuing Thai multiple entry visas. Events since that previous wrting have proven that the only method of obtaining a multiple entry visa for Thailand arises from applying for such a document via an Embassy or non-honorary Consulate.

As of this time of this writing, it seems that the aforementioned trend in Europe has spread to North America. A recent posting on the website of a Royal Thai Honorary Consulate in the United States of America reads:

EFFECTIVE AUGUST 15, 2016, WE ARE NO LONGER ABLE TO ISSUE MULTIPLE ENTRY TOURIST OR NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS. YOU MAY APPLY FOR SINGLE ENTRY TOURIST, TRANSIT, AND NON-IMMIGRANT O, B, OR ED VISAS ONLY. YOU MAY APPLY FOR MULTIPLE ENTRY VISAS AT THE LOS ANGELES CONSULATE OR THE ROYAL THAI EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON, DC

Although this message cannot necessarily be assumed to apply to all similar posts in the USA or Greater North America, a trend is appearing. It seems logical to infer that in the future it will no longer be possible to obtain long term multiple entry Thai visas from Honorary Consulates. This situation should not be misunderstood: there appears no reason to assume that Embassies and Consulates (which are not honorary appointments) will be precluded from issuing such travel documents. On the contrary, the trend appears to support the conclusion that such posts will be the exclusive issuers of such documents.

For those unaware, in recent months an announcement has been made that Thai Embassies abroad would begin issuing 6 month multiple entry tourist visas. However, it appears that much like non-immigrant visas such travel documents will only be issued from non-honorary posts. There are a few main visa categories commonly utilized by those wishing to remain in the Kingdom long term: Thai Business visas, Thai Retirement visas, Thai O visas (for family members of Thai nationals), and Thai Education visas. If one is seeking a Thai visa of any of the aforementioned categories and wish said document to be issued with a one year validity and multiple entries allowed, then it appears the only way to obtain said visa would be to apply at either a Thai Embassy or regularly established Consulate.

 

more Comments: 04

1st August 2016

In prior postings on this blog the issues of Thai immigration law and immigration enforcement have been discussed. In a rather recent posting it was noted that Thai immigration is placing increased scrutiny upon those seeking marriage visas (officially referred to as Thai O visas) in the Kingdom. It appears that after discovery of a spate of sham marriages perpetuated in order to obtain Thai immigration benefits, Thai immigration authorities began to subject Thai marriage visa applications to more intense scrutiny. This matter apparently remains a top priority of immigration officials in Thailand as a recent article in the Bangkok Post points out that high ranking officials with the Royal Thai Immigration Police have issued new directives with respect to this issue:

Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn warned officers against dishonest acts as he listed the bureau’s action plans to screen foreigners in the country illegally…He ordered immigration officers to investigate if authorities colluded with foreigners to help enable sham marriages.

This news comes amidst the recent revelation that the so-called “border run” method of maintaining lawful immigration status in Thailand is coming to an end. In a recent posting on the Love Pattaya Thailand website it has been noted that as of August 13th 2016 the days of visa running to obtain a 15, 30, or even 60 day stamp is coming to an end. To quote directly from the aforementioned website:

The Immigration Bureau have already told the officials to refuse entry to foreigners on visa runs as a measure to stop the exploitation of tourist visas and visa exemptions to live or work here. Tourists wishing to extend their stay in Thailand must now need to exit the country and apply for a proper tourist visa

In the past, one could hope to obtain a new thirty day stamp at the airport in Thailand so long one was willing to fly out of the country and immediately get on a plane and fly back in. It appears that this is no longer feasible as so-called “fly-out/fly-in” visa runs will be discouraged following August 13th to the point where presumably such travelers will be turned away and not permitted to reenter the country without a duly issued visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Meanwhile, Japan just recently solidified her position as the number one tourist destination of people from Southeast Asia. Japan tops the list of most favored tourist destinations among Thai nationals. It appears that Thai tourism numbers in Japan has been on the upswing since the easing of visa rules for Thai nationals including 15 day visa free travel.

This news comes at the same time as news that Taiwan is allowing Thai tourists to travel visa free to that country starting August 1st. It will be interesting to see if this move has a positive impact upon the tourism sector in Taiwan.

more Comments: 04

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.

more Comments: 04

5th October 2015

Starting November 13th it will be possible for foreign tourists to apply for and obtain a 6 month Thai tourist visa. To provide more insight into this development it is necessary to quote directly from the Bangkok Post:

Unlike current tourist visas, which offer from one to three entries, the six-month multiple-entry visa will allow unlimited border crossings during the validity period. However, to prevent foreigners from basically living in Thailand on tourist visas, each entry will be limited to 60 days. The new multiple-entry visa will cost 5,000 baht, versus 1,000 baht for a single-entry, 60-day visa, which can be extended in-country for up to 30 days for an additional fee.

As noted above the new tourist visas will be more costly than previously, but the validity period will be longer. Meanwhile, those in Thailand on such visas will be required to adhere to the regulations which are already in place. It would appear that the Thai government is attempting to provide a long term visa solution for those travelers who wish to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time. It should be noted that in recent months Thai Immigration authorities have been cracking down on long term users of Thai visa exemption stamps as well as those attempting to remain in the Kingdom utilizing the Thai Education visa (also referred to as the ED visa). It remains to be seen whether Thai Immigration officers and Consular Officers at the various Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad will be willing to issue multiple Thai 6 month tourist visas, but the creation of this new type of visa should provide a much needed option to longer term tourists.

It may still be possible to obtain a 1 year multiple entry Thai visa from certain countries. Such one year visas are often issued for those wishing to conduct business or work in Thailand (the Thai business visa), stay in the Kingdom with a Thai family member including spouses (the Thai O visa), or retire in Thailand (the retirement visa, also known as the O-A visa). Under certain circumstances a Thai ED visa may still be an option for long term stay, but it has been reported that those staying in the Kingdom on an ED visa to attend Thai language school are being frequently tested on their language capability.

Those who enter the Kingdom in B, O, O-A, or ED visa status may be eligible for a visa extension provided the applicant can provide certain documentation.

more Comments: 04

2nd July 2014

Followers of this blog will likely have noticed the recent news that Thai visa runs are being curtailed in an effort to stop those who abuse the 30 day visa exemption stamp system in the Kingdom of Thailand. The following is quoted directly from a recent announcement made by the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Savannakhet:

Announcement Concerning the Strict Implemmentation of the Visa Exemption Scheme

From 12th August 2014, Thai Immigration Bureau will strictly implement the border crossing law and regulations to prevent visa runners from abusing the visa exemption scheme by prohibiting entry into the country.

The purpose of this scheme is for tourism only. The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Savannakhet advises those wishing to enter Thailand for other purposes to apply for appropriate visa in all circumstances.

In accordance with Immigration Act B.E. 2522 and other relevant law and regulations, employment is prohibited when entering Thailand without appropriate visa and violation is punishable by up to 5-year imprisonment or up to 100,000-baht fine or both.

Royal Thai Consulate-General Savannakhet

June 27, 2014

Clearly, beginning in mid-August immigration officers will be scrutinizing travelers entering Thailand on 30 day visa exemptions. Those deemed to be utilizing the exemption scheme inappropriately could find themselves barred from entering the Kingdom. Meanwhile, this annoucment seems to also imply that those using the scheme to work illegally in the Kingdom could find themselves facing incarceration or serious fines. Anyone thinking of traveling to Thailand long term are strongly encouraged to seek an appropriate visa. Those thinking of working in Thailand should also be prepared to undertake the process of obtaining a Thai work permit.

At present there are multiple visa options for long term tourists and others wishing to remain in the Kingdom long term. The Thai business visa can be utilized by those wishing to conduct business in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, those with spouses or family in Thailand could obtain a Thai O visa (sometimes referred to as a Thai marriage visa) in order to remain lawfully present in the Kingdom. Those wishing to undertake an educational course in Thailand may be eligible for a Thai ED visa. Those over 50 years of  age who wish to retire in Thailand may be eligible for a Thai retirement visa.

Long term tourists who wish to remain in Thailand longer than 30 days are strongly encouraged to obtain a Thai tourist visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad in order to forestall possible problems that may arise as a result of the new stricter enforcement of the Thai visa exemption system.

more Comments: 04

3rd June 2014

As of the time of this writing, the reader is likely aware of the recent developments in the Kingdom of Thailand. In recent weeks, the political tension that placed Thailand in a political stalemate came to an end with the military taking over the civilian functions of the government. Although these developments may be confusing to those operating within a Western paradigm, such events are rather un-extraordinary when viewed within the framework of relatively recent Thai history. That stated, these developments are unlikely to have a day-to-day affect upon tourists and expatriates in the Kingdom. However, as the situation may lead to regulatory changes in Thailand, one would be prudent to keep an eye upon administrative developments moving forward.

Another issue which is likely to have a very significant impact upon both temporary travelers and long term residents in Thailand is the evolving state of Thai immigration rules. At present, the previous immigration rules are still essentially in effect (although one should note that all Thai immigration authorities have discretion to withhold admission to foreign nationals whom they deem unsuitable and with the recent announcement of upcoming rule changes such discretion may be utilized more frequently in the immediate future). On August 12th of this year the administrative procedures regarding those using multiple 30 day visa exemption stamps will change. After that date it will  likely prove much more difficult for foreign nationals in Thailand to use more than one 30 day exemption stamp within a relatively short period of time as such travelers are viewed as using such stamps to abuse the relative laxity of the Thai Immigration system. Therefore, it appears likely that those wishing to enter on such stamps consecutively will be highly scrutinized at the border with anecdotal evidence suggesting that immigration officials are likely to ask for proof of hotel accommodations and sufficient funds to remain in the Kingdom. The issue of hotel accommodation could prove significant to those who have used such stamps consecutively in the past as many such individuals maintain apartments or condos in Thailand and where that is the case anecdotal evidence suggests that such foreign nationals will be asked to depart and re-enter on a proper Thai visa rather than utilize the 30 stamp.

As a result of these developments and the substantial likelihood that the current administration in Thailand will stringently enforce these  new directives it seems reasonable to assume that the best course of action for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom for a significant period of time is to obtain a long term visa in some non-immigrant category. Currently, the Thai business visa is available for business travelers, while those wishing to undertake educational endeavors in Thailand could obtain a Thai ED visa. Furthermore, those with family members in Thailand could obtain a Thai O visa, while those wishing to simply retire in the Kingdom can opt to seek a Thai retirement visa. A 60 day Thai tourist visa may also be a possibility, but some have noted that usage of multiple Thai tourist visas may prove less feasible moving forward.

more Comments: 04

25th April 2014

In recent years there has been a strong feeling among expatriates and travelers to Thailand that getting a Thai visa is more difficult when compared to the past. In another posting on this blog it was noted that rules regarding application for one year multiple entry visas from Thai honorary Consulates in the United Kingdom had changed. Notably, applications for such long term visas are henceforth to be forwarded to the Royal Thai Embassy in London for review prior to adjudication. There are some who believe that this change in the process has resulted in fewer long term visas being sought, and/or fewer such visas being issued. As of the time of this writing there is no way to discern whether this processing change resulted in fewer multiple entry visas being issued. However one thing is clear, the rules regarding application for long term multiple entry Thai visas are being more strictly enforced. Therefore, some explanation regarding the general application guidelines may be warranted.

One significant concern of Thai immigration officials, as reflected in recent rule changes and enforcement procedures, would seem to be the physical location of the applicant. At one time, it was common to see foreign nationals in Thailand using less than reputable visa services to procure visas from Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad while physically remaining in Thailand. This practice was severely curtailed by immigration authorities in a few notable “crack-downs”.  At this point, it is very clear that immigration authorities strongly prefer that those applying for a Thai visa at an Embassy or Consulate abroad be physically present in the jurisdiction where the post is located. Moreover, it also seems clear that documentary requirements for those applying for one year multiple entry visas are more substantial compared to the past and it seems logical to assume that such requirements may be more stringent in the future.

It seems that immigration authorities now prefer that those wishing to remain in Thailand for a significant period of time obtain a 90 day visa from abroad, travel to Thailand, and upon meeting further criteria; apply for a Thai visa extension. This should not be inferred to mean that obtaining a 1 year Thai multiple entry visa is impossible, but rules regarding application for such travel documents vary by jurisdiction and for some simply obtaining a 90 day visa and then seeking an extension may be a more efficient option.

There are multiple visa categories under Thai immigration law. Some of the most commonly sought visas are: the Thai Business Visa (“B” Visa), the Thai “O” visa for the family of Thai nationals, the Thai retirement visa, the Thai tourist visa, and the Thai education visa (“ED” visa); although there are many other specific visa categories. Depending upon the needs and intentions of the visa seeker the rules for applying for such travel documents may vary. In any case, it may be prudent to seek the advice of those who routinely deal with Thai immigration matters as the rules and regulations regarding those issues can be complex.

more Comments: 04

6th December 2013

Notwithstanding the fact that demonstrations in Bangkok were briefly discontinued in order to observe His Majesty the King’s birthday, it appears that demonstrations are set to recommence as of Friday December 6th. It would appear that some anti-government demonstrators have remained in government office buildings as of the morning of the 6th as pro-government activists vow to undertake demonstrations at a later date.

The demonstrations in Bangkok have been a cause for concern especially for businesses which operate in the Thai tourism sector. However, officials in the Thai government appear willing to take measures to maintain tourism numbers in Thailand. The fact that a number of governments around the world have issued travel warnings to their citizenry has been a cause for worry amongst many in the tourism industry. It  was recently announced that notwithstanding the recent demonstrations tourism numbers in Thailand are still holding strong, but should demonstrations continue and tensions escalate there are some who worry that the effects could be detrimental. Hopefully, leaders from both factions can come to an amicable solution and avert a prolonged stalemate, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, various news outlets throughout Thailand are reporting upon recent news about Thai Immigration officials taking a firmer stance regarding the issuance of Thai retirement visas. In the past it was possible to obtain a retirement visa based upon showing a balance of eight hundred thousand Thai baht in a Thai bank account. Furthermore, a retired married couple could both use this balance when making an application for a retirement visa. With the passage of a law amending the Thai immigration rules, officials with the Thai immigration police have announced that future Thai retirement visa applicants must now show that they independently maintain an eight hundred thousand baht bank balance. This means that it is no longer possible for a foreign retired married couple to both obtain retirement visas based upon showing only 800,000 baht. In fact, such a hypothetical couple would now need to show at least 1.6 million baht in a joint Thai bank account or in 800,000 increments in two separate accounts. Officials noted that those maintaining a statutorily defined minimum pension may be eligible to receive a retirement visa provided proof of said pension could be verified by Thai immigration authorities. Those married to Thai nationals could also be eligible to receive Thai marriage visas (sometimes referred to as an O visa) which requires a lower bank balance in order to prove financial ability to support one’s spouse.

more Comments: 04

13th September 2013

It appears that Thailand intends to implement an E-visa system by the year 2015, Thailand Television Channel 3 is reporting. Apparently, the plan will allow visa seekers to apply for a Thai visa online. Currently, those seeking tourist visas and non-immigrant visas (such as the Thai business visa, the Thai O visa, and the Thai ED visa) are required to apply at the nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate in their country of origin or residence. As of the time of this writing, it is not clear which visa categories will be available online. It is also unclear whether passport holders from all countries outside of Thailand will be eligible to apply for an e-visa online, or if e-visa application will be restricted to foreign nationals from certain jurisdictions. In contrast to the current method of obtaining a Thai visa, which requires a physical visa stamp or visa sticker being placed in a traveler’s passport, the new system will not require any stamp or sticker in the passport itself. Instead, the proposed plan will create a system where the e-visa will be connected to the traveler’s passport number via computer and thereby accessible to Royal Thai Immigration officers as well as airline personnel.

The topic of e-visas was recently raised by officials at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a spate of incidents occurred which resulted in the disappearance of a number of Thai visa stickers destined for various Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. It is thought that by creating an e-visa protocol the security of both the Thai Immigration and the Thai Foreign Service systems would be enhanced.  As pointed out  previously on this blog, Thai Honorary Consulates abroad have been in the process of changing their visa processing procedures as heavier scrutiny seems to be being placed upon long term Thai visa applicants. The proposed e-visa system may be implemented in order to provide prospective travelers with both a convenient avenue for obtaining a Thai visa as well as a system which maintains the integrity of the Thai visa application process.

Currently, it is possible for foreign nationals of some countries to enter the Kingdom of Thailand without applying for a visa since Thai Immigration officials routinely grant 30 day visa exemption stamps to many travelers arriving in Thailand by air, and 15 day visa exemption stamps to those being admitted into Thailand via a land border. Whether or not the new e-visa system will affect the current visa exemption system remains to be seen. Also, as noted previously, questions remain as to the types of visas which will be made available via online application. Thai Immigration officials have apparently noted that further information regarding specific aspects of the proposed e-visa program will be available in upcoming announcements.

On a regional level, many officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed a desire to promulgate a pan-ASEAN visa scheme which would allow holders of such visas to gain admission to multiple ASEAN countries on one travel document. As of now, the prospect of a single ASEAN visa scheme is still being discussed.

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.