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Enormous Shakeup Of Visa And Immigration Rules


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Enormous shakeup of visa and immigration rules

Most farangs will be affected

What began as a restriction on the number of 30 day visas on arrival has turned out to be a major reshuffling of immigration regulations, most of which were framed as far back as 1979. The new rules apply to short term and long term tourists and farang residents and cover yearly extensions of various types, investment visas and even work permits.

The fact that it was announced on September 24 that the national immigration bureau chief lieutenant general Suwit Thamrongsrisakul has been transferred to an inactive post is not thought to have any bearing on visa matters. None the less, Pattaya Today stresses that the changes described below were accurate as of September 26, when we went to press, with an anticipated implementation date of October 1.

“Living” in Thailand on 30 day visas.

As previously announced, it will no longer be possible to “live” in Thailand simply by travelling to the border of a neighbouring country and receiving indefinitely the 30 day visa on arrival.

In future, foreigners will only be able to “live” in Thailand on visas on arrival only for up to 90 days (three months) in any 180 (six months) day period. Effectively, this means three consecutive runs to the border post (30+30+30) are the limit. The most commonly used border posts for Pattaya based visa runners are Aranyaprathet, Pong Nam Ron and Pailin in Cambodia.

Foreigners wishing to go on “living” in Thailand for the next three months would need to obtain a prior tourist visa at a Thai consulate or embassy in another country – not at a border post. The most likely destination for the budget traveller is Penang where the Thai consul general is currently awarding single entry tourist visas. These used to be valid for a stay of up to 60 days but from October 1 they are valid for a stay of 90 days. They cannot be extended.

The presumption is that, after that 90 days has elapsed using the Penang visa, foreigners would then be free to take visa runs to the Cambodian border for a further three months (30+30+30) before needing to return again to Penang or wherever

Foreigners travelling to Penang are advised to go and return by air. Some travellers have experienced difficulties on the Thai side of the Malaysian border when trying to return by train, even with a new visa.

The immigration bureau has confirmed that there is no limit to the number of 30 day visas on arrival for an individual, provided that he or she is “living” not in Thailand for longer than 90 days in any block of 180 days.

The logic behind the new rules about visas on arrival is to discourage their use as a kind of cheap residence permit.

Extensions to 30 day visas.

In an important new ruling, the former 15 day extension of a 30 day visa on arrival at Thai immigration offices has been changed to 7 days only. You may also have a 7 days stamp placed in your passport if the immigration authority refuses your application for a retirement or married man’s visa or if you are deemed to have made too many visa runs to the Cambodian border. If you get such a stamp, you must quit Thailand within one week or risk arrest for overstay.

Abolition of investment visa.

This visa allowed foreigners to reside in Thai for a year provided they placed 3 million baht in a Thai bank or in bonds. It was often used by foreigners under 50 who did not yet qualify in age for a retirement visa but wished to be based in Thailand. The understanding is that existing applications and renewals will be accepted, but that no new applications can be made from the beginning of October 2006.

The so called retirement visa.

This allows foreigners aged 50 and over to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand. It requires either 800,000 baht in a Thai bank or a combination of cash in the bank and proof of pension paid in the home country. A letter from the respective embassy is required for proof of pension. From now on, the immigration officer will need to see proof that the 800,000 baht has been there for three months prior to the visa being issued. This is to stop the practice of moving money into a bank account, and promptly out again, once the visa is granted.

The old regulation, however, that you must produce an annual medical certificate for this visa has been withdrawn.

The so called married man’s visa.

This allows the foreign, legal spouse of a Thai national to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand. The minimum cash in a Thai bank is 400,000 baht. As with the retirement variant, checks will be made in future to ensure that the cash is not simply put in a bank and then removed. This visa is issued in Bangkok only and, during the waiting period, checks can be made by immigration police at your bank to see if there has been a big cash withdrawal! If the funds have disappeared, you may be ordered to leave Thailand in 7 days. Local immigration officers will also visit your home to verify that you really do live together as man and wife.

Work permit regulations.

We are advised that work permits with the term “Consultant” in the title will not be accepted in future. It is felt the term is too vague and potentially condones work related activity contrary to the alien labour act. Obviously, work permit holders need to consult their lawyers about the detail.

Those applying for work permits for the first time will first require a non-immigrant business (type “B”) visa from a Thai consulate or embassy abroad. This will only be granted if the applicant has a Wp3 work permit receipt form from the Labour Office, photocopy of all limited company registration papers, all official paperwork showing company stamp, invitation letter from the limited company advising on your potential role and stating salary, photocopy of your passport, two passport size photos.

Multiple entry visas.

Many Thai consulates in the Pacific rim, specifically Penang, have now issued statements that they will issue only single entry visas in future. This ruling is irrespective of type. However, if foreigners choose to return to the country of their passport (say Europe, USA, Australia) they may find that multiple entry visas, both tourist and non-immigrant, are still being awarded. The reasoning seems to be that if you need a double, triple or multiple entry visa, then go back to your own country.

-- Pattaya Today 2006-10-02

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This seems to be just about what has been discussed at length for several weeks here with the addition of the 3 month retirement deposit and medical information. If anyone processing this week can confirm changes as they experience them it will be most helpful.

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Interesting that tourist visas will now be valid for a full 90 days. That saves the 1 mth extension fee of 1900 Baht (2 mth+1 mth). I presume a tourist visa costs about that 2000 Baht. I.e. for the 30 day visa runner/2 times tourist visa the costs just fell 3800 Baht compared to the 2+1 system.

Investment visa: glad that they will grand-father renewals.

Cheers!

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One thing that seems to be a problem with the reitrement and married person's visas is the statement that they are "...to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand."

So that would mean that if somebody were to enter Thailand on (say) January 1, and apply for a visa extension on December 30, they would get only a two day extension????

It seems as though there is a problem with the wording of the article. Agreed?

Edited by RickFarang
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These so called major changes, just make life harder, but with no real improvment in the system, unless you count the tourist visa not needing to be extended. It would also seem that even if you are geuinely married, you could end up with a 7 days red stamp in your passport, and not real explaination given, and no form of legal redress. I look forward to the day, when some has the balls, to take the immigration department to the International Court in the Hague, for seperating a man from his legally wedded wife! Make the most of Thailand whilst you can, doesn't look like there may be so many of us around in the future! And those of you with money, don't bring it here!

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I look forward to the day, when some has the balls, to take the immigration department to the International Court in the Hague, for seperating a man from his legally wedded wife!

Good luck with that.. But be sure to bring a case against virtually every country in the world when you do it..

You don't get an automatic right to live in any country just because you are married to someone..

This has been the case since the middle ages almost.

For those that are genuine there will be no problem. For those that are scamming expect to get caught out.

It's the same the world over.

Get a lawyer. Do the paperwork. Pay the fees, and everything will be fine.

Sit and whinge and moan and criticize and you can always expect your worst nightmares to come true.

Edited by scratt
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I wonder what the future for the Condo, market will be? With no more investment visa's being issued, and no new threshold set, who in their right minds, is going to buy a Condo, and those who's stay is based on such an investment, will be trapped, into holding on to theirs. How many Thais opt for Condos over houses?

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But Rick, how did that person stay here (what visa?) for the last YEAR without leaving? As we are talking EXTENSIONS I presume on a retirement or married visa....

Cheers!

One thing that seems to be a problem with the reitrement and married person's visas is the statement that they are "...to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand."

So that would mean that if somebody were to enter Thailand on (say) January 1, and apply for a visa extension on December 30, they would get only a two day extension????

It seems as though there is a problem with the wording of the article. Agreed?

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@SCRATT UA.

there is no way even if you have money

this are clear and solid rules in many other countrys

for example MALAYSIA

www.imo.gov.my

you are below 50 and have money, you get 10 year RESIDENCE VISA without hassle, money under table or however.

bring 3 M baht you get

--free import of your car

--free householdgood

--you entiteld for buy land and house

--10 year RESIDENCE VISA

--can receive intrestincomming ( no 0 rule for foreigner)

everything you can apply with clear rules!

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One thing that seems to be a problem with the reitrement and married person's visas is the statement that they are "...to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand."

So that would mean that if somebody were to enter Thailand on (say) January 1, and apply for a visa extension on December 30, they would get only a two day extension????

It seems as though there is a problem with the wording of the article. Agreed?

The non-imm O visa is only valid for 3 months, you have to extend it within that time.

If you entered on jan 1st, you would not be able to stay until dec 30 without extending it.

(You can however just leave the country every three months for another 3 month visa, and without the 400k in the bank)

EDIT: with regard to marriage.

Edited by VanZam
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For 'Rick Farang' re post #5.

We have here the usual confusion of journalists between a visa and how much length of stay is permitted upon entry with visa.

If someone enters on a visa on 01 January 2007, and is allowed to stay three months, they can (within that three months) apply for an extension of stay.

For retirement, or to support a Thai spouse, the extension of stay when granted would be to 31 December 2007.

In December 2007, just before that extension of stay runs out, they can apply for another extension of stay. If granted, their permission to stay will be extended till 31 December 2008, and so on in subsequent years.

It appears on the retirement and married extensions of stay that they are reminding us of the rules, not changing them (except for not requiring the medical certificate).

Nong Khai have always checked up with our local police for the first 'married' extension of stay. And there have been previous warnings that, when Nong Khai sends our papers to Bangkok, it will be checked that we don't just have our 400,000 bahts in for a few days once a year!

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I look forward to the day, when some has the balls, to take the immigration department to the International Court in the Hague, for seperating a man from his legally wedded wife!

Good luck with that.. But be sure to bring a case against virtually every country in the world when you do it..

You don't get an automatic right to live in any country just because you are married to someone..

This has been the case since the middle ages almost.

For those that are genuine there will be no problem. For those that are scamming expect to get caught out.

It's the same the world over.

Get a lawyer. Do the paperwork. Pay the fees, and everything will be fine.

Sit and whinge and moan and criticize and you can always expect your worst nightmares to come true.

I am genuinely married and have been for five and half years. The point here is that the Thai system, has no form of redress for mistakes, moreover after being married for a certain period of time, one should not have to be reliant on annual renewals, but be given some form of permanent residency, providing all the paper work and the circumstances are kosher! But that is not the case, I know someone who has been married here for 27 years and still has to go through the ridiculous process of annual renewal. If his wife had gone to the UK with him, should could have been a prominient local politician or even an MP by now! But here your just a foreigner!

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If true, the one silver lining in the cloud is the expanding of the tourist visa from 60 to 90 days.

There was a time maybe a year ago the immigration office in BKK was handing feedback forms to everyone. This was exactly my recommendation and this is a nice change. This makes things easier on immigration and us.

The report says the 3m baht investment visa is gone...wasn't it actually changed to 10m baht?

Overall the changes seem doubtful to get rid of a substantial number of long stayers, but they will make it somewhat more expensive, inconvenient, and that may discourage new people from considering the traditional long stay practices.

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I want to know how they intend on enforcing the 3 months money must be in your bank.

first I always assumed that the 800,000 was to be deposited into my bank and then I draw on it through out the year at 65,000/month so when time comes to renew I place the fresh money to top it up. NOW I will need to make sure I have 800,000 in the bank 3 months BEFORE I apply and not use any of it so I need to bring in over 950,000 3 months before the visa is up .

PLUS what if my extension is up this month or next month and as of now I don't have 800,000 in the bank.

will i be refused and given 7 days to sell my house, sell my car, pull my daughter out of international school, pack all my stuff and leave??

TOT

Edited by phuketrichard
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I agree with Lapamita that Malaysia seems to have much friendlier enviroment for inviting foreigners in. I presume that Thailand have found that they have reached a point where they will be more selective.

I still prefer to live in Thailand though.

Marquess; valid point. I do not think that many considered the investment visa when looking for apartment in Thailand. Most foreigners either have job in Thailand already, have job abroad and only plan to use for visits or plan to retire here (obtaining retirement visa).

Therefore there are still many foreigner groups that could be interested in buying a condo.

In addition you seem to mistakenly believe that Thais do not like condos..? That is certainly NOT the case - in fact, as you probably know no apartment building can have more than 49% foreign ownership, so who do you think own the rest? (here we are talking the fancier/foreigner style ones - there are many more buildings with 100% Thai ownership - why would there be if they do not like condos?).

Cheers!

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<From now on, the immigration officer will need to see proof that the 800,000 baht has been there for three months prior to the visa being issued. This is to stop the practice of moving money into a bank account, and promptly out again, once the visa is granted. >

This rule makes no sense and will create difficulties for all retirees concerned if they only have 800,000 baht or thereabouts available each year. If the desire is to prevent people from borrowing the money just for a few days and then withdrawing it again (which some people have been doing), Immigration should check the applicant's account at a period of three months (or one month would probably do) AFTER the issuing of the Visa. Then if all or most of the money is withdrawn without reasonable explanation the Visa could be withdrawn.

The proposal as it stands means that the amount required annually has effectively been increased to c. 1,000,000. That assumes that the person spends 200,000 baht each quarter. So bring in 1 mill three months before application so that you'll have the required 800K at the time of the application. :o

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PLUS what if my extension is up this month or next month and as of now I don't have 800,000 in the bank.

will i be refused and given 7 days to sell my house, sell my car, pull my daughter out of international shcool, pack all my stuff and leave??

Given the timing, I wouldn't expect that to be enforced to the letter. Also (I may be wrong) but I think that there is a certain amount of individual discretion on the part of the officials. So in some cases certain restrictions would be overlooked - or an appropriate extension would be given to allow one to meet the requirements.

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One thing that seems to be a problem with the reitrement and married person's visas is the statement that they are "...to extend a non-immigrant visa for up to 12 months from the date of the last entry into Thailand."

So that would mean that if somebody were to enter Thailand on (say) January 1, and apply for a visa extension on December 30, they would get only a two day extension????

It seems as though there is a problem with the wording of the article. Agreed?

Not really, the idea is that one gets 90 days upon arrival (non-imm O) and applies for extension during the last 30 days. If one has a multiple non imm O, valid for one year, can come back just before expiry and gets another 90 days during the last 30 days of which extension can be applied for.

So if somebody were to enter on Jan. 1 s/he would get 90 days i.e. till til end of March (Jan 31, Febr. 28, March 31 days) So 31 March leave or during March apply for extension, if granted it will be till December of that year. Or use the multiple and arrive last time December 31st and apply for extension in March of the following year, one year from last entry, Dec, 31.

Edited by Axel
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I look forward to the day, when some has the balls, to take the immigration department to the International Court in the Hague,

Good idea, but it would not work. Only UN member states and no individuals can appeal to the International Court in The Hague

Edited by jope
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Lifelover; I agree - 1M Baht then....

I am guessing they will not "count each Baht" but rather check the history of the finances by looking in the bank book - and within resonable consumption range/amounts accept it. Intention of the rule is clearly to stop the "borrow 800k for a few days and cheat the system"-applicants.

But it remains to be seen.

Cheers!

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I see that the NON-IMM O has been mentioned in a marriage capacity but what about those of us who are here supporting our children? Will we simply have to leave every 3 months as usual or is there a chance that we could get a 7 day stamp for some quickly thought up reason??

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PLUS what if my extension is up this month or next month and as of now I don't have 800,000 in the bank.

will i be refused and given 7 days to sell my house, sell my car, pull my daughter out of international shcool, pack all my stuff and leave??

Given the timing, I wouldn't expect that to be enforced to the letter. Also (I may be wrong) but I think that there is a certain amount of individual discretion on the part of the officials. So in some cases certain restrictions would be overlooked - or an appropriate extension would be given to allow one to meet the requirements.

I am getting confused over the 'retirement' visa. If you are receiving 65,000 per month pension, do you still need to show 800,000 in the Bank? or will the proof of income be enough. On extension If they check the bank and find it empty will they also accept the income of 65,000.

Forgive my confusion but it all seems bits and pieces to me.

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The coder; no, there is now officially no investment visa (only renewal of already granted visas). The 10 M Baht version has been speculation/rumours only sofar. (historically there has been 10 M Baht visa too though that was a PR fast track). Cheers!

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Marttaff; you are fine. 65000 B/mth OR 800k in bank. Cheers!

PLUS what if my extension is up this month or next month and as of now I don't have 800,000 in the bank.

will i be refused and given 7 days to sell my house, sell my car, pull my daughter out of international shcool, pack all my stuff and leave??

Given the timing, I wouldn't expect that to be enforced to the letter. Also (I may be wrong) but I think that there is a certain amount of individual discretion on the part of the officials. So in some cases certain restrictions would be overlooked - or an appropriate extension would be given to allow one to meet the requirements.

I am getting confused over the 'retirement' visa. If you are receiving 65,000 per month pension, do you still need to show 800,000 in the Bank? or will the proof of income be enough. On extension If they check the bank and find it empty will they also accept the income of 65,000.

Forgive my confusion but it all seems bits and pieces to me.

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I'm beginning to feel that it's not really worth the effort to stay in Thailand.

Recently I've been thinking about the reasons for being in Bangkok and I can't really come up with a unique selling point!

If you want to hang out in pool bars with lots of willing women who don't speak much english, then Bangkok is great. It gets boring after a while (several years ago!)

Restaurants serving western-style food are pretty poor or very expensive (even by western standards), Thai restaurants are blandly luxurious or great food but austere surroundings.

Entertainment? - Cinema? ummm....golf?

Work environment - don't get me started!

Traffic and cost of cars? :o

I'm tired of not being able to get an original version of movies, CDs and computer software, tired of getting sold stuff where the pacakaging has been opened already. Tired of buying fake Polo shirts, or getting tailored suits that fit worse than M&S off the shelf. Tired of pressing the 'guaranteed 60 second' button in McDonalds (has anyone ever been served in 60 seconds!?)

Tired of reporting every 3 months to say that I'm still with my wife and kids. Tired of signing all rights away.

Perhaps I'm just jaded, but now that I just spent a bundle of cash to set up an IT consultancy company over here, it seems I might find it difficult to get a work permit to work there! I wasn't planning on any more assignments in Thailand anyway, but I need the WP and salary so I can continue to live with my wife and kids in our house (in her name).

Perhaps I'll chage my mind, but right now, I'm thinking the whole family is going to be moving, next time I get a contract outside Thailand.

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