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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand o visa’

6th January 2019

As the year 2019 opens, it appears as though the process of obtaining and maintaining a Thai or American visa will be more difficult compared to years past. Although certain aspects of each process may involve increased laxity, flexibility, or efficiency the overall theme from immigration authorities in the United States and Thailand would seem to be one of heightened scrutiny and increasingly stringent enforcement measures.

American Immigration Issues

Some facets of the US visa process look to be improving. For example, the Department of State through the National Visa Center and various Embassies and Consulates abroad are becoming more efficient by shifting away from paper documentation over to a new digitized interface allowing faster processing of supporting documentation for immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications. This blogger can say from personal experience that the new system still has some issues to be worked out, but the overall system would suggest that faster processing times at NVC are likely to be a mainstay in the future.

That stated, the overall process of obtaining a US visa would appear to be getting more difficult especially in light of the current administration’s addition of a National Vetting Center tasked with adding scrutiny to the overall adjudication of visa petitions. Meanwhile, policy changes regarding adjudication of visa applications are likely to have substantial impact upon the amount of denials which are issued by USCIS in coming years. A memorandum which came into effect in September of 2018 allows officers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to deny visa petitions much more easily compared to times past when a Request For Evidence generally had to be issued before a denial. These developments coupled with creation of bodies such as the DeNaturalization task force and the prospect of a prolonged government shutdown would suggest that matters pertaining to American immigration are likely to prove more difficult moving forward.

Thai Immigration Issues

Meanwhile, as the United States’ Immigration apparatus becomes more cumbersome, Immigration authorities in Thailand do not seem to be backing down from their position regarding immigration and immigration enforcement in the Kingdom. In the lead up to 2019, the overarching policy of “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” (a policy of encouraging lawful visitors and immigrants to the Kingdom while attempting to discourage travelers with more nefarious motives) manifested itself in terms of enforcement with “Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner“. By the end of 2018 Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn had announced that tens of thousand of illegal aliens had been arrested, deported, and blacklisted from returning to Thailand. In December of 2018 further statements would suggest that although a great number of visa violators have been precluded from remaining in Thailand, the Immigration office’s vigilance will not decrease. Concurrently, the process of obtaining extensions of Thai retirement visas and Thai marriage visas are likely to become more difficult for some people as it will no longer be possible to obtain an income affidavit for such extensions. This comes at the same time as immigration authorities make comments that would indicate prospective increased scrutiny on those using visa services to obtain retirement and marriage visa extensions by dint of funds on account in a Thai bank.

All of the above developments would indicate that immigration matters in both countries will continue to be complex if not downright difficult in the coming year and beyond.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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27th August 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the procedures for obtaining a Thai visa extension on an expiring passport have changed. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Royal Thai Immigration Police:

According to the New Regulation from August 13, 2013,
when submitting application for Visa Extension if the validity of passport of the applicant is not longer than one year left before expiry,
the extension of stay will be permitted not exceeding the expired date of passport.
After the renewal of your passport of obtaining a new passport,
you have to re-apply for Visa Extension by submitting required document and paying extension fee ( 1,900 Baht).
In case of overstay, the fine is 500 Baht per day.

Clearly, those who have a passport expiring shortly following their Thai visa extension deadline will want to take measures either to renew their passport prior to visa extension renewal or be prepared to possibly pay more visa extension fees following renewal of a passport subsequent to extension.

Thai visa extensions are common among the expatriate community in Thailand as those holding non-immigrant visas such as the Thai Business Visa (categorized by Thai Immigration as Non-immigrant category “B”), the Thai O visa (often used by those who are married to a Thai or maintain a family relationship with a Thai national [in some cases a Thai O visa may be obtained by those who simply fall into the "miscellaneous" immigration category, Thai condominium owners being the most notable case in point]), the Thai Education visa (categorized as the ED visa), or the Thai Retirement Visa (classified as a Thai O-A visa) must obtain extensions in order to maintain lawful presence.

Holders of the Thai Business visa often obtain a visa extension when maintaining long term employment in the Kingdom of Thailand. It should be noted that those employed in Thailand must also obtain a Thai work permit as well as a Thai business visa extension in order to remain in the Kingdom for a long period of time to undertake employment activities. Those remaining in Thailand on a retirement visa, while able to obtain visa extensions, are generally unable to obtain a work permit as employment activities are not permitted while present in the country on an O-A visa. Holders of a Thai ED visa may also be eligible for one or more visa extensions, but are generally not allowed to obtain a work permit, except under very narrowly defined circumstances. Thai O visa holders may be able to obtain a Thai work permit depending upon the reason for the visa’s issuance. Those married to Thais, or those granted an O visa based upon having a Thai child are often able to obtain a Thai work permit.

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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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30th June 2013

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

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

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

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

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

For related information please see: Thailand Visa.

 

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