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Posts Tagged ‘Thai visa rules’

13th May 2019

The topic of retirement visa regulations has been of intense concern for some expats living in the Kingdom of Thailand. At first there was speculation that the income affidavit regime might come to an end in the context of retirement and marriage visas. Eventually, those speculating that income affidavits would no longer be provided by many Embassies in the Kingdom would be proven correct. Then, at the beginning of 2019, Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn (then Immigration Chief) promulgated rules with respect to financial requirements for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom in O-A retirement visa status or O marriage visa status. Shortly, thereafter, the Tourism Authority in Thailand announced an insurance scheme which would provide medical coverage for those temporarily in the Kingdom on tourist visa status. Members of the administration of this blog began to wonder if this insurance scheme was a precursor to a possible new requirement for Thai retirement visa insurance.

It appears, that such speculation is no longer necessary as Thai authorities have recently announced that insurance will soon be a prerequisite for Thai retirement visa issuance. To quote directly from The Nation’s website:

HEALTH insurance has been made mandatory for foreigners aged 50 years and above seeking long-term stay in Thailand. The insurance policy must offer up to Bt40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and up to Bt400,000 for inpatient treatment…According to Nattawuth, the new rule applies to both new applicants for the non-immigrant visa (O-A) [retirement], which offers a stay of up to one year, and those wishing to renew their visa. Each renewal is valid for one year.

Clearly, authorities in Thailand have been concerned about the issue of uninsured retirees in the Kingdom as evidenced by the relative alacrity with which this policy has been implemented. This recent turn of events has left many to ponder whether they may use their own insurance which was obtained abroad. It appears that overseas insurance will be considered acceptable so long as the coverage comports with that mentioned in the quotation above. However, readers of this blog should note that exact regulations regarding how immigration officers should adjudicate overseas insurance have yet to be promulgated.

The past year has seen a tremendous change in Thai retirement visa law. It remains to be seen how these most recent developments will impact the expatriate community in Thailand, but we will update this blog or our other various media organs as the situation progresses.

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23rd March 2015

Many expatriates in Thailand have been finding it increasingly difficult to obtain a long term (1 year or more) visa in Thailand. This frustration may be due in part to the fact that in 2014 new immigration rules were promulgated and the governmental administration in Thailand went through a transition. Moreover, it would also appear as though Thai Consular Officers abroad have been increasingly less inclined to issue one year non-immigrant multiple entry visas to foreign nationals seeking such documents outside of Thailand. Even 90 day visa applications are being placed under increased scrutiny compared to years past. Whether one agrees with these policies is basically irrelevant  as foreign nationals must acclimate themselves to the notion that staying in Thailand long term is becoming more difficult.

In fact, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that remaining in Thailand on an Education visa is not as simple as it used to be. In fact the cost of going to classes has increased for students in various Thai schools. This would appear to be the result of the fact that many so-called “visa mill” schools have been under review or in some cases even closed as they seem to exist only for the purpose of providing long term ED visas to foreign nationals.

Fortunately, all is not completely bleak on this topic. Some genuine schools which offer genuine classes are still able to offer Thai ED visas. That stated, it should be noted that attendance in such classes is being monitored more carefully. Also, if one wishes to conduct legitimate business in Thailand then it is possible to obtain a Thai business visa. However, such applications are being carefully reviewed. The same can be said for Thai retirement visa applications as applicants are finding their financial status reviewed carefully before new retirement visas or new  retirement visa extensions are being issued. Further, it appears that those present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a Thai marriage visa are being subjected to review and in some cases it appears that officers are traveling to marriage visa holder’s homes in order to ascertain whether or not such marriages are in fact genuine. Meanwhile, immigration authorities have imposed new rules requiring digital photographs of those seeking visa extensions notwithstanding the fact that such applicants routinely provide passport sized photos with their application.

In short, it appears that reforms of the Thai immigration system have changed the way in which foreign nationals apply for visas and the result could prove to be a more costly and/or cumbersome process for those seeking immigration benefits in Thailand.

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19th November 2009

Although not a major topic on this blog, the visa run is an issue for many expatriates, or expats, in Thailand. There was a time when remaining in Thailand for a virtually indefinite period of time simply required a “visa run” or “border run,” once every thirty days. However, Thai Immigration regulations have been in a state of flux for approximately 5-10 years and one of the biggest changes was the end of the infinite 3o day visa exemption. Today, a foreigner will usually only receive a 15 day visa exemption at a land border in Thailand. This is unhelpful for those wishing to remain in Thailand for a long period of time as Thai Immigration officials require at least 21 days of lawful status to convert a Thai visa or extend a Thai visa.

The border run or “visa run” is still important for many as it is still required of one in the Kingdom on a long term multiple entry Thai visa.  A one year multiple entry visa for Thailand provides the bearer with 90 days of lawful status per entry. In the case of the Thai business visa, business travelers often leave Thailand before their duration of stay has ended. However, in cases where the traveler must remain past 90 days he or she will need to leave the country and be stamped back in at a port of entry.

A common method of fulfilling this Thai Immigration requirement is through use of a land border. A very popular “border run” or “visa run” destination for those residing in Bangkok is Cambodia. Although currently their are some tensions with Cambodia that threaten to close the Cambodia border. At present, it would appear that the border will remain open. That being said, another issue arises. Namely, does one need a visa to enter Cambodia on their “visa run?” For most passport holders the answer to this question is: Yes. With the exception of ASEAN nations, most foreign passport holders need a visa to enter Cambodia. Currently the price of a Cambodian visa is $20 although this price could change.

Some border runners and visa runners opt to travel to other countries near Thailand as a method of fulfilling Thai Immigration requirements. Popular destinations are Burma (Myanmar), Laos, and Malaysia. Currently, Malaysia has a visa waiver program for most passport holders while Burma (Myanmar) requires a visa for those from nearly every nation. A Burmese visa can be obtained at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. As to Laos, a visa exemption or visa on arrival is granted to most entrants when they are admitted to Laos at a port of entry.

Some opt to do their “visa run” using an airport. In this situation the visa runner needs to leave Thailand by plane and be stamped back into the Kingdom upon return. Malaysia has become a popular destination as the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is popular for short term Thai visa applications.

Thailand visa rules can act as an inconvenience to many foreigners in Thailand, but through research on the current Immigration laws one can make the process as hassle-free as possible.

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