EVER CHANGING VISA REQUIREMENTS IN THAILAND LEAVING EXPATRIATES FRUSTRATED – It is a well established fact that foreign expatriates are of a huge economical benefit; especially to a developing country such as Thailand.
All countries have specific requirements for work or retirement and it is only common sense that these rules are enforced to ensure everyone complies and which provides greater benefit to the host country.
For many expatriates they are often left shaking their heads in disbelief to the number of changes and loops they are required to jump through in order to remain in Thailand on an annual basis.
Unlike Thailand’s neighbour, Malaysia, there is no long-term visa; Thailand requires those on Retirement Visas, or any other visa, to reapply once a year.
This means that a foreigner is only permitted to stay for a maximum of one year and during that time he or she must report to the Thai Immigration Police every 90 days in order to establish their whereabouts.
Such a system appears counter-productive in attracting retirees and more importantly the money they are able to inject into the economy.
Let’s just compare the two countries briefly:
It is possible to obtain a ‘My Second Home Visa’. The requirements are fairly straight forward in that a retiree must be over the age of 50 and deposit 150,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approx £29,500) in a Malaysian bank.
However if you are below the age of 50 it is still possible to obtain the ‘My Second Home Visa’ with a bank deposit of 300,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approx £59,000).
Once the bank account is set up with proof of the funds the foreign national is provided with a 10 years visa. The visa allows the foreigner to come and go as they please and may withdraw up to 60% of the funds in their bank account.
Once the 10 year visa expires the retired foreign national may reapply for a further 10 years and providing at least 40% of the original funds remain in the account the visa will be renewed.
The Thai authorities will issue a 1 year Non-immigration ‘O’ visa to anyone over the age of 50 providing they are able to show a Thai bank account with a deposit of 800,000 Thai Baht (approx £16,000).
The retired foreign national is not permitted to allow their bank account to fall below this amount and it is now a requirement to produce evidence that the money exists in the account every 6 months – one expatriate informed us that Thai Immigration has requested to see this each time he is required to report.
All retirees are required to report to their local Thai Immigration office once every 90 days in order to confirm their residency.
Any retiree wishing to leave Thailand during the visa period must apply and pay for a re-entry stamp; failure to do so will render the visa null and void.
There is of course a marked difference between the financial requirements between the two countries however it appears that Malaysia does not require its foreign expatriates to continuously jump through hoops in order to remain in the country.
It would be easy just to shrug this off with the simple notion that each country has its own rules and regulation that must be complied with but when you look at the economical benefits that retirees bring to such countries you might think that Thailand would be making efforts remove many of the barriers in order to make retiring in Thailand far more attractive; these being the requirement to apply every year and report every 90 days.
The truth is that the subject of Immigration in any part of the world could be viewed in a negative way and that some expatriates will say this is a small price to pay for being able to live in Thailand.
However, there are always other views such as;
“Anyone who lives here in Thailand can tell you that the Immigration laws towards foreign nationals (Farangs) is unfair and racist, plus a whole load of other words…. A lot of these laws are imposed simply to obtain more money from the Farang population.” Anon Expat.
We spoke to a number of foreign retirees in Thailand for their views and this is just one example of the difficulties faced:
For a country that purports to respect the older generation, this defies all logic. It is a joke within the Farang Community about the never ending changing of rules and regulations surrounding the subject of paperwork needed for us to stay and operate here legally.
Often it is made harder with no apparent reason, except to make our lives more difficult and often more expensive.
My parents have been here with me for twelve years and are dependent on my status. In other words, we have been jumping through the hoops for twelve years and during that time the requirements have changed so many times I have lost count.
Two years ago, Thai Immigration suddenly wanted certified copies of my parent’s birth certificates, which was never needed before.
No one can obtain a passport without a valid birth certificate. This meant my parents having to queue at the British Embassy in the heat and paying the exorbitant Embassy fees to get this job done.
Allow me to clarify – a taxi to the Embassy, a queue in the heat to get in, a queue inside, payment and a taxi back. My parents at that time were 78 years old and really could have done without such an ordeal; have the Thais no consideration?
This year’s renewal I asked the Thai Immigration to waiver the need for my parent’s actual presences at Immigration as my Dad has cancer and my Mother has osteoporosis, plus they are now 79 years old.
The Immigration Department is several miles from where we live and whilst I have a car it is an unpleasant and extremely tiring experience for them both.
My request was of course denied and my parents had to endure a long wait in an environment not suitable for either, considering their medical condition.
I was informed that an Immigration Officer could attend my parent’s house but only if they were bedridden with a doctors signed statement to the fact. However the Immigration process would be slow with no guarantees that their application would be approved.
You would think that the Thais would be grateful or even appreciative that retirees want to live in Thailand; especially when considering the amount of income they inject annually into the economy.
I know what the argument from many of the expatriates will be; and it almost mirrors that of the Thai officials and that is; if you don’t like it then leave.
The truth is most of us do like it here and don’t want to leave; all we want is a slight improvement on system which would not only benefit foreign expatriates but would also make Thailand far more attractive to others and therefore inject even more money into its economy. Anon Expat
It’s really interesting, from an outsiders perspective, as to why so many, actually pretty much all, of our sources wish to remain anonymous.
We have been told that it’s not a good idea to speak out against the system nor is it wise to admonish or criticise Thailand in any form for this can lead to Thai authority appraisals.
This aspect can be confirmed when you look at the recent Jet Ski scam in Patong Beach, Phuket where the Australian Honory Consol was threatened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chief in Phuket.
The issue here is that the Thai authorities appear unable nay unwilling to listen to the issues affecting many thousands of foreign retirees and whist is could be said that this is Thailand and these are their rules, it could also be acknowledge that Thailand’s image and indeed reputation could benefit enormously with just a few minor changes to its requirements; this is of course in addition to the economic benefits.