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Changing Thai Visas while in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Immigration or Thai Visas yet again and in this video we are discussing generally the topic of conversion of a Thai Visa within the Kingdom; so we are changing from one type of Thai visa to another while in Thailand. 

I want to be clear, there is going to be a certain segment of this video that is for general information. In fact most of the video is going to be for general information purposes. There is going to be a certain subset of this video, a certain subset of information in this video that is going to be about COVID-19 and the implications of what we are calling the Automatic Visa Extension or the Visa Amnesty or the Visa Waiver that has been promulgated in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

So we are not only going to talk about Visa conversion in Thailand in a general sense we are also going to make it a little bit case specific to those who are currently in Thailand in Amnesty. 

So first off, "Is it possible to convert from one Thai Visa category to another?" Let me say “In theory, yes. As a practical matter is not an overly commonplace occurrence. It can happen. We have done it." Generally speaking, we don't really like to see conversions out of category although theoretically it is possible and when it does happen, oftentimes it is no mean feat if you will. It takes some doing to get it done and there is a great deal of documentation involved. It oftentimes is done not exactly against the will of the Immigration Officer, that is the adjudicating officer they are making their determination, but they are generally speaking rather reluctant to do it or rather reticent to go ahead and allow somebody to convert over status. Why? Well because the presumption is these are non-immigrant categories. So the presumption is this person is not living in Thailand permanently.  Again Permanent Residence in Thailand, that is a different type of status and we have made videos on this channel. We have a lot of information on our websites regarding Thai Permanent Residence; it is just a different kettle of fish Permanent Residence. Nonimmigrant Visa status presumptively, the person that comes in in non-immigrant Visa status if they are changing status, generally speaking the presumption by the Immigration Officer is they want to see that person leave, get a new Visa in their new category, then come in and extend in that status. They view with a great deal higher level of scrutiny, those people that are looking to change their status in the country. Again these Non-immigrant categories are presumed to not be for people living here.  I find it interesting that foreign nationals who are trying to do this, they sort of take a view of “Well why won't they let me do this?” They kind of take umbrage at not be allowed to change their status. Well it is the very nature of your Visa that if the conclusion of its purpose has run its course, if it has come to its natural conclusion, for example if you are in Thailand on a non-immigrant B Visa and you are looking to move over to for example a Spousal Visa or a Retirement Visa there is sort of a rebuttable presumption, but it is a presumption none-the-less, there is sort of a presumption in the mind, in the institutional paradigm of the Thai Immigration apparatus or the Thai Immigration Officer that if you were on a B and you are looking at convert over to a Spouse Visa for example, your B Visa has run its course. You were in Non-immigrant Visa status, you are not an immigrant to Thailand, you are simply a non-immigrant and you came to Thailand, you temporarily traveled to Thailand i.e. business has come to an end and that purpose has extinguished. Therefore the presumption is the Visa that facilitates that purpose extinguishes as well. For that reason, the presumption is you should leave Thailand, get yourself a new visa and come back into the Kingdom. Now that being said, it may be possible to see an Immigration Officer use their discretion to say "Okay, I get it. You have worked here for years and now you are looking to retire. You don't want to leave the country”. That makes sense. That makes factual sense. Again, keep in mind the Thai Immigration Officers to one degree or another are making findings of fact and conclusions of law and under certain circumstances they might say it is perfectly reasonable to convert over from one status to another. But under other circumstances they might just say "No" and dismiss it out of hand because they just say "your purpose for being here with no longer exists.  If you have a new purpose, leave Thailand come back in and you will have a new temporary visa to remain in the Kingdom." 

So that they can take away from this video, yes it may be possible to convert one’s status in Thailand. It is a rather complex to the point of being a nearly cumbersome process so for those who are interested in this, it is probably not a terrible idea to contact a legal professional as depending on the circumstances it might be a documentation intensive process of getting one's visa changed from one status to another in the Kingdom of Thailand.