Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand Business Visa’

22nd September 2019

Integrity Legal has been providing legal services in Bangkok, Thailand for 12 years. In that time, the legal system in Thailand along with the Thai Immigration and tax collection systems have evolved. As a result, accounting and issues pertaining to corporate compliance are having an increasingly direct impact upon immigration matters for foreign nationals who own or work in companies in Thailand. For example, maintenance of payroll records and records contributions to Thai Social Security can be critical for those seeking Thai work permits and Thai business visa extensions. Meanwhile, Thai Immigration initiatives which would seem to only be relevant in a personal context can have ramifications in a corporate context. For example, a foreign national working in a Thai company could see their application for a business visa extension rejected due to failure to file a TM30 form providing relevant information regarding address location.

Due to the increasing complexity of Thai law and regulatory enforcement, a more holistic approach to business incorporation, visa extension, work permit application, accounting, payroll maintenance, and corporate services is necessary. For this reason Integrity Legal is proud to announce the foundation of Integrity Services. Integrity Services provides corporate maintenance services, accountancy services, and also tax advisory services (in both a Thai and an American context). Integrity Services is managed by a Thai accountant with fluency in English. The firm will also provide consultation and tax advisory services from an American tax attorney where necessary.

Integrity Services can provide ongoing support to businesses in Thailand with a special emphasis upon companies with foreign ownership or management. Concurrently, with recent changes to the American tax laws, advisory services from an American tax attorney with experience in Thai corporate matters can provide a great deal of benefit to firms with American stakeholders or management. Meanwhile, Integrity Services will provide assistance to clients of Integrity Legal, where necessary, in a seamless manner. By blending standard legal services with, corporate compliance, immigration, and accounting the teams of both Integrity Legal and Integrity Services can provide comprehensive assistance to our clients in all matters pertaining to business in Thailand.

Contact us today to learn more about how your business could be improved with Integrity.

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17th March 2019

The past 3 years have been some of the most eventful in the history of the Thai immigration apparatus. For example, the “Good Guys In Bad Guys Out” initiative and the concurrent enforcement program known as “Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner” have resulted in a large number of arrests, deportations, and the blacklisting of a number of foreigners in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, there have been a number of initiatives involving those in Non-immigrant status which have been noteworthy.

Changes to the Enforcement Rules for Thai Retirement Visas

A particularly hot topic since the beginning of 2019 has been how the rules regarding retirement visa income and financial evidence will be adjudicated moving forward. Whereas in the past it was possible for American, British, and Australian retirees in Thailand to obtain a certified letter or income affidavit regarding their abilities to financially support themselves since the conclusion of 2019 this type of evidence is no longer available as Embassies and Consulates of the aforementioned countries will no longer issue such documentation. Thereafter, in the first quarter of 2019 many announcements were made with respect to how evidence of financing would be adjudicated. Those seeking a retirement visa extension must now show that they have maintained a balance in their personal account of not less than 800,000 THB for 60 days prior to their application for a retirement visa extension and after the extension is issued it must be shown that the 800,000 THB remained on balance for an additional 90 days thereafter. Throughout the rest of the year 400,000 THB must be maintained. The Head of Thai Immigration Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn has noted that for the year 2019 Immigration officers are permitted to be somewhat lenient, but after 2019 these rules are to be enforced strictly.

Thai Marriage Visa Applicants Increasingly Scrutinized for Sham Marriages

Meanwhile, those who are seeking Thai marriage visas should be careful to avoid entering into a marriage solely for the purpose of obtaining a Thai Immigration benefit as Immigration police are increasingly wary of sham marriages in the wake of a number of such unions being discovered. Furthermore, as is the case with retirement visas, financial requirements connected to Thai marriage visa applications are subject to new enforcement protocols in the aftermath of the discontinuation of the aforementioned income affidavit scheme.

The Business Visa Extensions Incur Increased Scrutiny

It is not only those seeking marriage or retirement visas who are feeling the watchful eye of Thai Immigration peering over their shoulder. An increasing number of small business owners are being subjected to inspection and document scrutiny in connection with their applications for business visa extension. In fact, according to this blogger’s experience virtually all first time visa extension applicants in Bangkok are being subjected to inspection. Whether this trend will continue in the future remains to be seen.

Education Visas have Become Far Less Easy to Obtain

Finally, the Education visa: this visa was once a rather straightforward extension to obtain if one could prove enrollment in some sort of government sanctioned education program, but in recent years such visas have been more difficult to obtain and those utilizing such documentation have been the subject of increased scrutiny as well as periodic Immigration raids. It appears Immigration officers believe certain schools were being used merely as a pretext for procuring immigration benefits and conducted a number of raids on such facilities culminating in a large amount of arrests and deportation.

In conclusion, it should also be noted that Immigration authorities have arrested a number of so-called “visa agents” for filing false documentation in connection with visa applications. All of the above evidence leads to one logical conclusion: the Immigration system is Thailand is becoming more sophisticated and focused on enforcement measures. The era of a lax immigration regime allowing a significant number of foreigners to remain in the Kingdom for no valid reason is drawing to a close.

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9th August 2018

In recent months, the rules upon which the regime for issuing and maintaining Thai work permits and visas have been undergoing some changes. However, the permanence of these changes remains to be seen and the practical implications of these changes are also open to speculation. Hopefully the following posting with provide some clarification with respect to where work permit and visa rules currently stand.

Work Permit Restrictions Appear to be Loosened

Since the promulgation of the Emergency decrees regarding work permits in Thailand analysts seem increasingly convinced that regulations regarding time, place, and manner of work in Thailand have loosened. In the past, Thai work permit regulations (and the enforcement agencies associated therewith) viewed the rules very strictly when it came to the specific locations where foreigners could undertake labor, the specific functions foreigners could perform, and the timing of when a foreign worker could begin working. For example, foreign temporary workers had to await issuance of a work permit book or temporary work document in order to begin working. Meanwhile, those issued with long term work permits were at one time restricted to performing their job only within the premises of the business acting as the work permit sponsor. Later, the geographic scope of labor endeavor was expanded to allow foreigners to undertake work throughout a specific province in Thailand. However, under any circumstances the foreign national with work authorization had to be circumspect in their endeavors as the work activities they undertook had to fall within the boundaries of the job description specified within the provisions of the work permit itself.

Pursuant to the provisions of the second emergency decree regarding the management of foreign workers in Thailand it appears that many of the restrictions regarding geographic scope of activity have been lifted. Meanwhile, the strict scrutiny of job functions appears to be a thing of the past as well (although a list of occupations restricted to Thai nationals is still in force so long as the activity in question is not specifically in violation of that list the foreign worker should be free from sanction). Furthermore, it appears that certain temporary workers who are brought into Thailand for a short period of time may be able to perform their function in a much more immediate manner compared to the past as, depending upon circumstances and subject to the aforementioned list of restricted activity, many workers may be able to immediately begin performing their functions.

The Return of the One Year Multiple Entry Visa?

It would seem that there is another possible change to Thai regulations regarding work authorization and business visas in Thailand. Apparently, regulations now stipulate that some of those working for a foreign company in Thailand (such as a Representative Office) are no longer required to obtain a work permit. This new exemption apparently only extends to Directors of such organizations. Furthermore, it appears that so-called Amity Treaty Companies (those corporations certified as American and therefore accorded protections pursuant to the US-Thai Treaty of Amity) are now subject to such exemption. Under such circumstances the directors of such companies are able to apply for a 1 year multiple entry visa from their country of origin. As of the time of this writing, this blogger has yet to personally deal with a matter arising under these new rule changes, but the creation of new immigration options is always noteworthy. It should be noted that these regulatory changes appear to be exclusive to Labor matters. Thai immigration regulations have not changed with respect to the rules regarding visa extension in the Kingdom. At the present time a work permit appears to still be required for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom long term via a Thai business visa extension application.

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7th June 2018

As noted in the prior entry on this blog, Thai immigration policies, procedures, and enforcement protocols are in a state of flux. This entry will attempt to provide a sort of round up regarding the recent developments with respect to changes in the Thai Immigration apparatus.

In recent weeks, there have been further crackdowns on visa violators. Most notably, there have been raids which have netted a number of foreign nationals either physically present in Thailand while on overstay or present in Thailand with no evidence that the nationals in question had ever been lawfully admitted to the Kingdom in the first place. It seems that this trend of conducting raids at venues where illegal aliens may be present is set to continue. It is notable that schools of all types are being included in such raids.

Furthermore, where once the bureaucracy associated with accepting and processing visa applications (particularly Business visa applications) seemed primarily concerned with simply ascertaining whether the formalities required to secure a visa or visa extension were in place. Now, Immigration authorities and adjudicating officers seem to be prioritizing heightened scrutiny of Thai visa applications.  This is having the effect of seeing further requests for documentation especially in business visa extension applications. This change in attitude also has an investigative component as it seems to be required that all new B visa extension applicants be subjected to inspection by Thai Immigration officers.

Increased enforcement activity has not been confined only to Business visas in recent weeks. In fact, it seems further scrutiny of Thai O visa applications is likely in the future especially in light of authorities recently uncovering what would appear to have been an ongoing scheme to defraud the immigration system though use of sham marriages in Thailand. Although not directly attributable to concern over sham marriages the fact is that fewer and fewer Multiple Entry O visas are being issued by Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad when compared to times past. It is this blogger’s personal opinion that the decline in the number of such visas issued is directly attributable to the fact that Thai Immigration authorities are seeking to scrutinize those living in the Kingdom on a permanent basis and multiple entry visas do not accord them the level of scrutiny as would exist in the adjudication of an O visa extension.

It has been this blogger’s observation that many expats in Thailand take the position that efforts like these eventually fade into the background as the initial zealousness of those undertaking these policies and enforcement measures wanes. However, to assume that these new policies of heightened scrutiny and increased enforcement activities will “just go away” would fail to take into consideration the fact Thai Immigration authorities seem very keen on implementing long term policies and utilizing technology which will preclude regressive tendencies in the system moving forward.

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6th November 2017

In a recent announcement in the Royal Thai Gazette, it came to this blogger’s attention that new regulatory protocols are likely to soon take effect with respect to foreign labor in Thailand. Below is an English translation of the announcement, for the full un-translated announcement please see the aforementioned link:

Dated November 2,

Order of the Security Council

On Proving the Identity of foreign labour

As the system which is presently used for screening some category of people who enter the Kingdom cannot provide enough proof of identity which is needed to protect the stability of the country. Presently, many people are coming into the country to work as labour, both legally and illegally and it is not easy to confirm the identity of the labour force. The collection of the data which is needed to confirm the identity is presently confusing because the responsibility for the information is scattered between various departments depending on the duty and authority of the person involved.  Also, different methods are used creating confusion and delays in accessing the data if needed.  Therefore, a committee will be set up to oversee the collection and storage of data from the workers and set up a date base with all the history clearly shown. A system will be set up which will be legal and also maintain the confidentiality of the information and also prevent the information from being used against the wishes of each person. This is to prevent any destruction of the peace and also to ensure the safety of the country, in labor, economy and society.

The order following Matra 265 of the Constitution of Thailand and section 44 of the Constitution of Thailand (temporary) is as follows:

1. Committee refers to the Committee who will study how the data should be kept.

“22 provinces along the coast refer to Krabi, Chantaburi, Chachoengsao, Cholburi, Chumporn, Trat, Trang, Nakornsritammarat, Naratiwas, Prachuab, Pattani, Panga,  Petchburi, Phuket, Ranong, Rayong, Songkla, Satul, Samutprakarn, Samutsongkram, Samutsakorn and Surattani.

2. The member of the Committee are comprised of …………[list of committee members]

3. Duties  and Authority of the Committee

(1) Consider a method to set up a system to prove the identity of the immigrant laborers by collecting and keeping the data of the laborers in the fishing sector which the Harbor Department and the Labour Department are both handling at the moment. (2) Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority to collect the data which contains the relevant information on the identities including setting the criteria and method to be used and also linking the various agencies involved in collecting, maintaining, and proving the identities of the immigrant laborer so the data can be accessed conveniently and efficiently.

(3). Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority of saving the data under no (1) and (2) so it is safe and trustworthy enough to use in proving the identity of the laborers.

(4) Carry out duties delegated by the Prime Minister

4. The method of saving the data referred to in 3 (1) should commence with data of immigrant laborers in the fishing industry and sea food factories in the 22 coastal provinces. This must be completed by 31 March, 2018.

The committee may expand the area to include additional provinces as instructed by the Cabinet.

5. With regards to labor in other sectors, the committee should advise the Cabinet as to which department is responsible for the collection and saving of data and the time frame required to complete data base.

6.  The data on immigrant laborers already collected by the Labor Department prior to this new announcement should continue to be used until instructed otherwise by the Committee.

7. The Department of Budget should consider how much budget the Committee and departments authorized by the Committee will require to carry out the instruction.

8. If the Prime Minister or Cabinet member deems it necessary, the Council for Peace (not sure of the name) are allowed to change these instructions.

9. This instruction comes into force on the day of announcement.

The above translation should not be construed as a definitive interpretation of the material in Thai, but is simply provided for informational purposes of a general nature.

Although it appears that this announcement pertains specifically to migrant labor in the fishing sector it remains to be seen whether or not this announcement could have an impact upon labor matters in Thailand more generally. Meanwhile, as has been pointed out in prior postings on this blog regarding Thai work permit protocols: Thai labor regulation, and the enforcement thereof, has become increasingly strict in recent months. A previously proposed overhaul of the labor regulations and fines has been put on hold until the beginning of 2018 in order to allow employers and migrant labor time to adjust to the new regulations. How the enforcement mechanism will operate from January 2018 onward remains to be seen, but if the above announcement is any indication, the Labor authorities in Thailand appear committed to tracking and monitoring foreign workers in Thailand.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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