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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.

 

â??Livingâ? in Thailand on 30 day visas.

 

As previously announced, it will no longer be possible to â??liveâ? 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 â??liveâ? 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 â??livingâ? in Thailand for the next three months would need to obtain a prior tourist visa at a Thai consulate or embassy in another country â?? 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 â??livingâ? 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 manâ??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 manâ??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 â??Consultantâ? 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 â??Bâ?Â) 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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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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I tend to think there is bound to be a few more changes and exceptions made...then of course, it will change again...I still wonder how they will check the number of days...and if you change passports, would the old number roll over to the new one for tracking? Seems to still be a few loop holes...but mostly just annoying.

 

I was initially concerned about the number of stamps and days...as In the past year, I have probably spent 4+ months in Thailand (a few days in Los and Cambodia). As the clock starts on the day the new rules go into effect, I am technically clear...this is more of a future concern right now...I sort of miss the ability to just come and go with no regard for days in country.

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p.s. I have a neighbour who is on a retirement visa ... and who was told the last time that he should NOT keep his money inactive in the bank account. Immigration wanted to see money coming in and going out. They really do have their heads up their arse!

 

 

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I mentioned several months back that there were would be radical changes about visas, work permits, Thai shareholding to get around the alien business law (and there was a fair bit of disbelief), but what I wonder now is if they will really impliment all of these rules as advertised. Many are very impractical and some rules are inconsistent with each other. For example:

[a retirement visa] 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.

 

If you are on a retirement visa, you are not permitted to hold a work permit. This has some logic to it since I guess you are not supposed to be working if you are retired. But Bank of Thailand regulations also clearly state that a foreigner is not allowed to open a bank account unless he has a work permit. So how can a foreigner possibly meet the bank account requirement for a retirement visa?

 

Answer: in practice, many banks do allow foreigners to open accounts. But of course those banks can and do often change their requirements for doing so.

 

This is a small example, but it is this sort of uncertainity that makes it so difficult to legitimately do business here. Impractical rules that are inconsistent with each other are bribe magnets. They also undermine respect for sensible rules that should be enforced.

 

We complain about it as foreigners, but Thais and the Thai economy are the bigger victims. This sort of nonsense really holds Thailand back. Unfortunately, your average man on (the Bangkok) street doesn't realize this.

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I remember when the government came up with the retirement visa about 7 years ago. It took only 400,000 baht before Mr T changed things, and just 200,000 then for a spousal visa. :banghead:

 

About a month after the retirement visa was announced, the Bank of Thailand came up with the work permit requirement for a bank account. So how was one supposed to open an account to deposit 400,000 in order to get a retirement visa? Ooops!

 

My understanding was that the BoT backed down and rescinded the WP requirement. But if they did, many banks are still insisting on it. It is a crazy situation right now. One of my friends moved here and wanted to deposit 6 million baht in the Bangkok Bank. The main office said no!

 

But if you go from bank branch to bank branch, it is almost guaranteed that you will eventually find one that will let you open a deposit.

 

TIT

 

 

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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.

 

-- Pattaya Today 2006-10-02

 

 

Thus, if you need to show 800k to obtain your retirement extension and you need to have this money 3 months upfront you will need 195k more, thus 995k in order to provide 3 months spending...before requesting your yearly extension.

 

Previousely it was said the 800k should come from international transfer, for the same reason.

 

It's all a load of crap, as usual.

 

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Foreigners wishing to go on â??livingâ? in Thailand .....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-- Pattaya Today 2006-10-02

 

 

 

So foreigners from eligible countries can stay on tourist / 30 day transit visa combos ad infinitum? (30+30+30+90+30+30+30+90 etc?) The only difference would be those previously using 30 day transits only now have to include a Penang type visa run every three months? Whatâ??s the point?

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