Things You Need To Do/Have To Get A Thai Retirement Visa
One of the common complaints of foreigners living or visiting Thailand is about the country’s immigration laws and policies. In both online forums and real life conversations, you will often hear people talking about their trouble with Thai immigration authorities, particularly how they make things difficult for foreigners.
But are things really that hard? Is it always that way? I talked to some American guys now living in the country, and I got mixed answers. Some did experience troubles with the Thai immigration office, while others were able to successfully settle in the country without a hitch. And the latter has some advice for those planning to move in the country—either for retirement, work, or marriage.
They strongly suggest: always stay legal. If you are in the country for work and have the right qualifications, then get a job permit instead of working illegally in the hope you don’t get caught. You could get jailed and deported if the police catch you. If you really like to live in the country, simply apply for a job where the processing of working permit is handled by the company hiring you.
And if possible, don’t get work until you get a permit. Likewise, if you are in the country for more comfortable retirement that cost less, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for retirement visa and take care of all the legalities.The same is true if you are planning to get married to a Thai national. Complying with all the legal requirements will spare you from future legal problems and will make your stay in Thailand relaxing and fulfilling.
Retirement Visa Application for Americans Retiring in Thailand
Tourist-visa exemptions are offered by the Thai government for 48 nationalities, including American, Americans, and Europeans. This means that American retirees who want to spend their retirement in Thailand can enter the country without a pre-arranged visa.
Do remember though that the granted stay only have a maximum of 30 days if you are entering Thailand via an international airport, and 15 days if you are entering through a land border checkpoint. So, as soon as you reach the country, process your application paper for non-immigrant visa and retirement visa right away.
Eligibility Requirements for Retirement Visa
Your first and only appearance for the visa will be at the Immigration Bureau where you will be asked to sign the application paper in person and in the presence of an immigration officer. To qualify, you need to meet the following eligibility criteria:
1. You must be 50 years old or above.
2. You must not have any criminal records and must be able to enter Thailand; and
3. You must meet the following financial criteria:
• A bank account of at least THB 800,000;
• A monthly income not less than THB 65,000; or
• A combination of bank account and yearly income of BHT 800,000
Note: The said amount must be deposited to any bank in Thailand at least two (2) months before the visa application is processed.
If you meet the above requirements, then process your retirement visa with the Immigration Bureau. And make sure you dress presentably and must have the following documents in hand:
1. Two passport-size photos taken within the last six months.
2. Photocopy of your travel document and each page of your passport duly stamped, with validity that is not less 18 months.
3. Financial documents, including passbook, original letter from your Thai bank certifying your account and showing your balance (note: this should be signed and stamped), and photocopy of every page of your passbook.
The application, once approved, will grant you a one-year stay in the country. Do note that when you are in this type of visa, you are not allowed to work. You are also required to update the immigration office about your current location or address every 90 days. Reporting can be done by mail to any Thai immigration office.
Common Issues and Questions Regarding Thai Retirement Visa
Q: Do I need to leave the country once my visa expires?
A: Yes, and you need to apply for an extension or re-entry permit months before the expiration of your retirement visa. The extension permit extends the number of days you can stay in the country for one year, and is required if you are looking for a re-entry permit. This is because any re-entry permit you applied for in the country will expire if your “extension of stay” expires.
Q: Can I apply for a visa renewal while in the US?
A: No. You will need to renew it in the country before the expiration of your Extension of Stay. Otherwise, you will have to get a new non-immigrant visa from a Thai embassy or consulate abroad
Q: Is there a penalty for overstaying? How much?
A: Yes, the fine for overstaying is 500 THB per day.
Q: What if I want to retire in the country for good?
A: Since retirement visas are only good for one year, then your best option is a permanent residency. You can be qualified for this if you have lived in the country for at least three years under a non-immigrant visa. Take note that this must be three ‘un-broken’ years of residency in the country.
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