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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Visas’

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.

 

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20th August 2014

The Thailand Easy Access Card

Posted by : admin

In recent postings on this blog, the issue of immigration crackdowns has been discussed. Specifically, it appears that the so-called in/out 30 day visa run is a thing of the past and those overstaying their lawful immigration status could find themselves barred from reentering the country. Meanwhile, it appears that obtaining one year multiple entry Thai visas is becoming more and more difficult although not impossible where the applicant meets the requirements.

This brings this blogger to a related topic, in the past the Thailand Elite Card program allowed for long term stays in Thailand, but the price was usually not cost effective for the average traveler. It should also be noted that the initial Elite Card scheme allowed for a lifetime visa. Eventually the program went somewhat defunct, only to be re-vamped and reintroduced as a 20 year visa scheme. Those seeking an Elite Card must pay 2 million baht up-front with a yearly 20,000 baht administrative fee. Again, even the current Elite Card cost is not affordable for many. This may be why the Elite Card promoters have implemented a less expensive alternative: The Thailand Easy Access Card. This card allows the holder to obtain what is essentially a 5 year visa rather than a 20 year visa, but the cost is only 500,000 baht up-front as opposed to 2 million, there are other curtailed benefits that come with Thailand Easy Access Card obtainment which are more fully described in a pamphlet issued by the facilitators of the Easy Access card:

As a business traveler who frequently travels to Thailand you truly deserve the exclusive benefits the Thailand Easy Access Membership entitles. Your arrivals will be practically effortless with assistance by our professional Elite Personal Assistants who will be waiting for you at the plane’s door. From your first step into the Kingdom until your departure they will escort and guide you through the airport assisting you with all formalities and immigration procedures. In addition to the exclusive privileges within the airport your private limousine is available to drive you to your destination as quickly and as hassle-free as possible.

Those seeking a detailed breakdown of Easy Access Card benefits are encouraged to click HERE.

Clearly, the Easy Access Card provides benefits besides long term visa status, but for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand for a period longer than one year this may be an option. It should be noted that those entering the Kingdom on either an Elite Card or an Easy Access card enter in tourist visa status. Those wishing to enter Thailand based upon marriage should do so on a Thai marriage visa. Retirees may obtain a Thai retirement visa, while those seeking an Education in Thailand should think about the Thai ED visa.

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29th August 2013

The rules regarding processing and adjudication of applications for one year multiple entry Thai visas appear to have changed. The following was recently posted on the official website of the Honorary Thai Consulate in Birmingham, UK:

With immediate effect all Non-Immigrant Multiple Entry visas can not be issued on the same day, as we require authorisation from the Royal Thai Embassy  in London. Once approval has been granted the visa will be issued.
If your application is declined you will be informed.
Please ensure we have your UK contact telephone number.
All other visas will be issued on the same day as usual  providing we have all the correct documentation.

Although the procedural change noted above may not negatively affect Thai visa applicants, it may be an indication that Thai authorities are more diligently scrutinizing long term visa applications. Some visa issuance procedures have been in a state of flux for some time now, as many Royal Thai Honorary Consulates in the United States have already placed information on their websites which states that only 90 day Thai business visas will be issued and those wishing to remain longer in the Kingdom of Thailand must make a request for a Thai work permit and Thai visa extension.

As noted above, in the past it was possible to obtain one year multiple entry Thai visas from some Honorary Thai Consulates in as little as a day. However, as new non-immigrant multiple entry visa applications appear to be subject to increased scrutiny from Thai Consular Officers it could be argued that more long term Thai visa applications may be denied in the future.

The posting of these processing changes have come shortly after recent reports that Thai visa stickers destined for Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad went missing and that some foreign nationals in Thailand had been found with previously unaccounted for stickers in their passports. Perhaps Thai authorities are implementing stricter visa processing and adjudication rules in an attempt to curtail immigration fraud, or these rule changes could simply be the result of the naturally evolving state of Thai immigration policy. On a related note, it was recently reported that Thai immigration officials are thinking of implementing new E-visa procedures at the various Thai Consulates and Embassies around the world in order to maintain more security in the visa process. In any case, it appears that those seeking long term Thai visas from Thai Consulates and Embassies abroad will see their applications examined more closely compared to the past.

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29th July 2013

Thailand Visa Update

Posted by : admin

There have been some recent developments with respect to Thai visas. The following information is for general use only and should not be construed to apply to every unique situation as there are often numerous Thai visa options for those wishing to travel and remain in the Kingdom of Thailand for a prolonged period of time.

Thailand Business Visas

It has recently come to this blogger’s attention that 12 month multiple entry Thai business visas are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain from Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad. For example, the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur recently announced that it will no longer issue 12 month multiple entry business visas to applicants as applicants are now only able to obtain a 90 day Thai Business Visa (officially referred to as the Non-Immigrant “B” Visa) at that post. Applicants are encouraged to first obtain a 90 day Thai business visa and subsequently apply for a Thai work permit and visa extension in the Kingdom of Thailand. However, it would appear that the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang may issue 12 month multiple entry business visas under limited circumstances. It seems that those who have previously obtained a multiple entry Thai business visa and Thai work permit may be eligible to obtain another one year Thai business visa from the Thai Consulate in Penang. Meanwhile it would seem that the other Thai Embassies and Thai Consulates around the world are becoming increasingly hesitant to issue one year multiple entry Thai business visas and in those situations where such visas are issued they are only granted after significant scrutiny by the Consular officers issuing such travel documents.

Thailand Retirement Visas

In some cases, a foreign national may be eligible to obtain a Thai retirement visa. However, Thai Immigration officials are carefully reviewing applications for Thai retirement visas. In fact, this blogger has  learned that issues surrounding the finances of the applicant for a Thai retirement visa are of increasing concern for Thai Immigration officers. In fact, Thai Immigration officers seem to be seeking larger amounts of evidence concerning a retiree’s financial situation compared to past applications.

Thailand O Visas

The O visa in Thailand is technically classified as a miscellaneous visa category. Generally, this visa category is used by foreign nationals with family in Thailand (this is why this category is sometimes referred to as a Thai marriage visa notwithstanding the fact that  it could be used by any family member of a Thai national). As is the case with the Thai retirement visa, the finances of the foreign national seeking an O visa is of central concern to the Thai Immigration authorities especially when the foreign national is seeking a Thai O visa based upon marriage to a Thai. Therefore, those seeking Thai O visas should be prepared to show substantial evidence of ability to financially support oneself, and one’s spouse, while in Thailand.

Thailand Education Visas

The Thai Education visa (categorized by Thai Immigration as the “ED” visa) is more widely used by foreign nationals in Thailand compared to times past. That stated, Immigration officials examine such applications with a great deal of thoroughness. It should be noted that those staying in the Kingdom on an ED visa based upon attendance at a Thai language school may be tested on their Thai language ability by Immigration officers. Therefore, if one has been present in Thailand on an ED visa for a significant period of time, but cannot show a basic understanding of Thai the ED visa could be revoked.

For related information please see: Thailand work permit

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16th December 2010

Those who read this blog may likely have noticed that the issue of Thai immigration is a frequent topic of discussion. Recently, this author came upon an interesting announcement regarding the issuance of Thai reentry permits at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. The following is quoted directly from the official website of Suvarnabhumi International Airport:

The Re-Entry Application Procedures and Requirements At Suvarnabhumi Airport
Date : 07 – 12 – 10
1. Aliens must submit the applicatoin by themselves.
2. The date of submitting application must be the date of departure.
3. Gather the required documents as below
- Passport or travel document (1 original plus 1 copy)
- One recent photograph (4X6 CM.)
- Fees – Single 1,000 Baht
- Multiple 3,800 Baht
4. Submit the application and required documents at Immigration Departure Division (East Zone), Suvarnabhumi Airport.
5. The service open daily from now on

In a previous posting on this blog, the administration pondered the prospect of Thai reentry permits and whether they would ever again be available at the airport as opposed to the Royal Thai Immigration Headquarters at Chaeng Wattana. It would appear that from this point onwards, Thai reentry permits will be available to departing foreign nationals at the airport.

For those who are unfamiliar with the protocols and rules associated with Thai immigration, anyone present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a Thai visa must obtain a reentry permit prior to leaving the Kingdom of Thailand. Those who fail to obtain a Thai reentry permit prior to departing Thailand may lose their Thai visa status upon departure. For this reason, reentry permits should be obtained by anyone in Thai visa status who wishes to return to Thailand. A frequently asked question in this vein is: do I need a reentry permit if I am present in the Kingdom on a visa exemption? The short answer: no. Those who enter the country on a Thailand visa exemption cannot obtain a reentry permit as they are not technically in possession of a valid Thai visa. Those present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a Thai visa extension are required to obtain a Thai reentry permit prior to departure lest the foreign national fall out of status entirely upon departing Thailand. The same can be said for those who are present in Thailand with lawful permanent residence. A Permanent Resident in Thailand must receive authorization to leave the country whilst simultaneously maintaining lawful status in the Kingdom or else face the prospect of falling entirely out of status upon departure.

Those who are present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a multiple entry one year Thai visa should not need to obtain a Thai reentry permit when departing the Kingdom, but those with a multiple entry visa are generally required to depart the Kingdom at least every 90 days in order to maintain lawful status.

Fore related information please see: Thailand business visa or Thai Work Permit.

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31st October 2010

In recent weeks there seems to have been some confusion related to the issue of overstaying one’s visa in Thailand. It would appear that there was a certain amount of consternation being created as a result of postings on the internet discussing Thai Immigration policies regarding overstay. Apparently, Thai Immigration authorities are heavily scrutinizing departing foreigners’ visas to ensure that those leaving the Kingdom of Thailand remained in lawful status for the duration of their stay and those not in lawful status at the time of departure must face legal consequences in the form of fines and possible incarceration. Penalties for overstay in Thailand have always been prescribed by relevant Thai Immigration law, but confusion seems to have arisen as a result of a posting on the internet stating that Thai Immigration procedures would be changing. However, the Phuket Gazette website phuketgazette.net subsequently reported that such speculation was incorrect. To quote directly from the Phuket Gazette:

Col Panuwat today told the Gazette, “I contacted the legal department at Immigration Bureau Headquarters on Soi Suan Plu in Bangkok, the Phuket Airport Immigration Superintendent and other authorities as well.”

“All have assured me that they are still following all the terms of the Immigration Act 1979, enacted on February 29 that year,” he said.

Under the Act, “any alien who stays in the Kingdom without permission, or with permission expired or revoked, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years, or a fine not exceeding 20,000 baht, or both.”

Penalties for Immigration violators can be rather severe, but in many cases individuals find that they have overstayed their visa by a matter of days. In a situation similar to this it is reasonable to believe that Immigration officers are unlikely to impose more than a fine on the offending party as they depart Thailand of their own accord. However, as the duration of one’s unlawful presence increases so too could one assume that the potential penalties might increase as well. Bearing that in mind, those pondering the overstay issue are wise to note that Royal Thai Immigration Officers have significant discretion in matters involving visas, admission to Thailand, and overstay in Thailand. As the aforementioned posting went on to note:

The Phuket Gazette notes that Immigration officers at checkpoints have always had complete discretion on what punitive measures to take with overstays, as specified above.

They can also deny entry to anyone arriving at a border checkpoint for any reason, even if the person arriving is in possession of a valid visa.

In the United States, Immigration matters are generally dealt with under Congressional plenary power and Immigration officers at the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) are empowered with the authority to place prospective entrants into expedited removal proceedings or to simply deny a foreign national, even if said individual has a valid visa, admission to the USA. Thailand’s immigration rules are different from those of the United States, but one thing remains constant: Immigration Officers at any checkpoint throughout Thailand retain a great deal of discretion in matters pertaining to overstay under Thai law. Therefore, foreign nationals in Thailand should expect for overstay matters to be handled on a cases by case basis as each case is unique and no one has a right to remain in the Kingdom of Thailand without being in lawful status.

For related information please see: Thailand visa or I-601 waiver.

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17th April 2010

In previous posts, this author has discussed visa runs and border runs. Another common method of obtaining lawful status in the form of a Thai visa is by traveling to Thai Embassies and Consulates outside of the Kingdom of Thailand. This can be a difficult endeavor for some, but the difficulty can be increased as Embassies and Consulates change their internal rules frequently. This is a by-product of doctrines similar to that of Consular Absolutism also known as Consular NonReviewability. This doctrine states, in a nutshell, that Consular Officers are given wide latitude to use their own discretion when making factual determinations about visa issuance.

Recently, this author has learned that the Royal Thai Embassy Kuala Lumpur will no longer issue the 1 year multiple entry Thai business visa to those with a work permit that is valid for less than 7 months. In the past, it was routine to see the 1 year Thailand business visa issued to those with a valid work permit regardless of the duration of its validity. Now, it seems that only a 90 day business visa will be granted to those with a Thai work permit that is valid for less than 7 months.

In recent years, the Thailand work permit and the Thailand visa have been effectively “decoupled” in the sense that one is no longer necessarily dependent upon the other. For a long period of time one had to have a work permit in order to obtain a Thai visa extension. Once that extension was obtained one needed to then extend the work permit so that the two documents’ validity were in sync. This has changed as the Ministry of Labour is more apt to grant a 1 year work permit to first time applicants and then the applicant can easily obtain a visa extension. The side effect of this system is that Thai Embassies and Consulates are increasingly less willing to issue one year Thai visas since their personnel view the decision regarding issuance of such a long term travel document ought to be made by the Royal Thai Immigration Police in the Kingdom of Thailand.

When analyzed, this policy makes sense as the Royal Thai Immigration Police in Thailand are often better equipped to adjudicate visa extension requests. However, there are often very compelling reasons why an applicant would wish to obtain a 1 year multiple entry visa from outside of Thailand. One notable reason, such a travel document would not require the issuance of a Thai Reentry Permit as would be necessary if a one year visa extension were issued.

It should be noted that each Thai Consular and/or Diplomatic Post has a different set of rules with regard to visa issuance so what is the rule at one post may not be the same at another.

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3rd March 2010

As readers of this blog may recall from a previous post, the Thai authorities recently announced that the fee waiver for Thai tourist visas was ending in March of this year. However, ThaiVisa.com has recently reported that the tourist visa waiver program is to be re-instituted in April of this year. Apparently, the positive impact upon the tourism sector is one of the underlying reasons for the extension of this program:

“Less than one month after Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Thaivisa.com that the free tourist visa scheme would end on March 5, 2010, the Thailand Government has announced the tourism stimulus package will continue for another year, including $US10,000 in free riot insurance for tourists. The extension of the tourism industry stimulus package was approved by the cabinet today, March 2, 2010 in response to a request from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The extension will be effective from April 1, 2010 and go through to March 31, 2011 and appears to leave a three and a half week window in which tourist visas for Thailand will be charged for.”

As some may recall from another previous post on this blog, many Royal Thai Embassies, Consulates, and  Honorary Consuls around the world were unhappy with the no-cost tourist visa scheme as the funds previously accrued from processing tourist visas were no longer being paid. How this recent announcement will impact the Honorary Consulates as well as the Embassies and Consulates-General remains to be seen.

Another interesting aspect of the recent announcement is the fact that foreign nationals are also to be provided with no-cost riot insurance as part of this new program to revitalize the Thai tourist industry. To further quote from ThaiVisa.com:

“The $10,000 free riot insurance coverage was introduced last year and initiated by the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) in response to international insurance firms’ refusal to sell insurance coverage to visitors to Thailand following the 2008 closure of Thailand airports by members of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD). When the insurance coverage was first introduced last year, Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president of TCT, said the government had set aside Bt190.75 million ($US5.820 million) for the initial six month period covering May to October, 2009, with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports responsible for paying the insurance premium of $1 per visitor. The insurance policy provides for payments of up to $10,000 in the event of death, injury, and/or trip inconvenience, and appears to only cover people in possession of a 60-day tourist visa. Resident expatriates living and working in Thailand on non-immigrant visas do not appear to be covered for death, injury or inconvenience caused by riots.”

It will be interesting to see if the provision of this insurance will cause any stir among foreign residents as all of those who do not have Thai Permanent Residence are technically considered non-immigrants and therefore only “temporarily” staying in the Kingdom. This even applies to those with a Foreign Tabien Baan (also know as a Yellow Tabien Baan) as these registrations are specifically noted as “temporary.” Even though all non-residents are classified as non-immigrants, the category of the visa determines the privileges that will be extended to the visa holder. Therefore, those with a Thai business visa are entitled to file for a Thai work permit while those holding a tourist visa are not accorded that privilege. As a result, the provision of riot insurance could be viewed as as specific privilege that is only accorded to those holding certain types of Thai visas.

For further information about Thai Immigration please see: Thai visa.

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5th December 2009

Work Permits can be a major issue for those engaging in non-recreational activity in Thailand. Thaivisa. com is reporting that some of those involved with the King’s Cup Regatta were worried that the Ministry of Labour and the Royal Thai Immigration Police may crackdown on foreigners participating in the Regatta. The reason for the possible crackdown was supposedly to be due to unsanctioned employment-like activity. Fortunately, as Thaivisa.com is reporting, rumors of a crackdown are unfounded as authorities have stated that no sailors will be detained for work permit violations connected with the event.

Quoting Thaivisa.com:

Rumors of an imminent crackdown on foreign sailors taking part in the King’s Cup Regatta over work permit violations are untrue, the head of Phuket Immigration has confirmed. A thread on the popular Thai Visa web forum yesterday started with the post:  ’Latest from Phuket Town… raiding King’s Cup regatta tomorrow for professional sailors without work permits….’ As Immigration Police would have to play a role in any such crackdown, the Gazette contacted Phuket Immigration Police Superintendent Col Chanatpol Yongbunjerd to see if the rumor was true; it wasn’t, and isn’t. ‘I guarantee that such arrests won’t happen,’ he said.”

Although it may seem trivial, some officials take work permit violations very seriously. As a result, some activities which foreigners consider to be “non-employment,” are used as a basis for fining or detaining individuals in the Kingdom for violations of Thai Labor law.

Immediately following the relatively recent Tsunami in Southern Thailand, many volunteers arrived to assist in relief efforts. Some of these volunteers were disturbed to be informed by Thai authorities that they were in violation of Thai labor regulations. To quote Thailandqa.com:

“‘More than 1,000 foreign volunteers from about 25 countries helping tsunami survivors rebuild shattered lives were outraged yesterday to hear they face legal action by the Labour Ministry unless they have a work permit. Sombat Boonngam-anong, director of the Chiang Rai-based Krajok Ngao Foundation, said confusion and anger reigned among the foreign volunteers at Khao Lak in Phangnga’s Takua Pa district when a Labour Ministry official told a local English-language newspaper that they were required to register with the ministry for a work permit otherwise legal action would be taken against them starting March 1.’ — Bangkok Post, 2nd March 2005, PENCHAN CHAROENSUTHIPAN”

Normally, in order for a foreign national to obtain a Thai work permit the applicant must also present a validly issued Thai visa. Many Thailand visa categories enable the bearer to apply for a work permit. However, the most optimal visa category to support a work permit is the business visa. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to obtain a Thai business visa from a Thailand Embassy or Consulate abroad and therefore many opt to stay in Thailand on tourist visas or exemption stamps. Neither of these documents, on their own, can be used as a basis for submitting a Thai work permit application. Therefore, those wishing to work in the Kingdom should seriously consider applying for a proper visa prior to arrival.

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6th May 2009

Thailand O Visa

The Thailand O visa is something of an anomaly because it is truly a “catch-all” visa category. Generally O visas in Thailand are used by spouses of either Thai nationals or spouses of those present in Thailand on some other type of Thai Visa. The O visa confers work authorization insofar as it allows the holder of said visa to petition for a Thai work permit.

Although legally eligible to obtain a work permit, there are sometimes work permit difficulties for the O visa holder. As a practical matter, some Thai immigration officers and Ministry of Labour officials do not like to see work permits issued to those in Thailand on an O visa unless the O visa is based upon an underlying spousal relationship to either a Thai National, Permanent Resident in Thailand, or business visa holder (in the case of the spouse of a business visa holder, the O visa holder may have some difficulty obtaining a work permit).

Thailand Elite Card

The Thailand Elite Card program was a program designed with the idea of improving business tourism in Thailand. The card offered many benefits that would be convenient and useful for the prospective business traveler in Thailand. Most notably, there were some very positive immigration benefits conferred upon businesspeople holding a Thailand Elite Card.

At one time, there was a 3 year multiple entry visa conferred upon foreigners under the Thailand Elite Card program. Under this program applicants paid a one time fee of 1.5 million baht and received a card that entitled them to special benefits throughout Thailand. The program also had a special relationship with Thai Immigration that allowed card holder to obtain 3 year multiple entry non-immigrant B visas.

Recently, with governmental shakeups in Thailand the Elite Card program has been canceled with regard to immigration matters. Therefore, although one could conceivably still obtain the elite card, the immigration benefits of the card are no longer granted and therefore the special three year visa is no longer conferred upon card holders.

At present, it would appear to be quite difficult, if not practically impossible, to obtain a 3 year non-immigrant business visa to Thailand. That being said, one year Thai visas are still available for qualified applicants.

For more information please see:

Thailand Visa

Thailand Business Visa

US Visa Lawyer Thailand

(Note: All information in this post should be used for general purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created between the reader and author of this post. This post should not be used as a substitute for individualized legal advice from a licensed professional.)

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