Integrity Legal

9th Nov 2009

Many long term expatriates in Thailand eventually begin to think about the possibility of applying for Thai Permanent Residence. As with many things in Thailand, acquiring Thailand Permanent Residence can be a very time consuming proposition and failure to maintain one’s Immigration status prior to the submission of a Permanent Residence application could result in major delays and frustration.

Although it can be somewhat simple to obtain a short term Thailand visa (Thai tourist visa, ED visa, etc), obtaining a long stay Thai visa can be extremely difficult in some situations. For many, obtaining a Thai business visa can be a daunting endeavor. Even more difficult is the visa extension process which requires a great deal of documentation for those who are seeking to extend a validly issued Thai business visa.  For those who are staying in Thailand on a visa that is based upon a relationship to a Thai national, the extension process generally requires less documentation, but does require a showing of financial sufficiency.

The reason the extension process is mentioned above is due to the fact that it has a critical impact upon the Permanent Residence application. Under current Thai Immigration regulations a foreign national in Thailand must have maintained at least 3 years of unbroken visa status in Thailand in order to be eligible for Permanent Residence. This means that the foreigner needs to have had 3 visa extensions with no “gaps” of unlawful presence.

Maintaining said status for three years can be a difficult task particularly for those who are employed by multiple companies. One in this position must make certain that their visa status remains unbroken despite changes of employment and/or visa sponsorship. For the self-employed who own their own Thai Company and use it to maintain a Thai visa and work permit, this is less of an issue. Even then, one should keep a close eye upon one’s visa status.

A common question with regard to Thai Permanent Residence and prior visa status involves the Thai Reentry Permit. A Thai reentry permit allows a foreigner to leave the country and return while still maintaining the same visa status. If a reentry permit is obtained then lawful status can be maintained and so long as it is maintained for 3 or more years the visa holder may apply for permanent residence in Thailand provided the other requirements are met. If a visa holder does not return to the Kingdom to maintain their status they will fall out of status and subsequently become ineligible for Permanent residence.

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