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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawDoes the Thailand Elite Visa "Have Your Back"?

Does the Thailand Elite Visa "Have Your Back"?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the Thailand Elite Visa. A recent comment on our channel, I thought it was kind of interesting. Quoting directly: "Hello, regular subscriber and enjoy the content. I am sitting a little uneasy just now perhaps for no reason. I am into my last year of 5-year Elite Visa and also married to a Thai. I have been told I can't transfer to Marriage Visa without leaving the country first which I don't want to do. I am contemplating extending the Elite but here is my predicament. I have never felt Thailand Elite ever "had my back". I know that sounds a bit vague but I feel they have very little sway when it comes to Immigration matters and they seem pretty hopeless when I was trying to re-enter the country when I was stuck in the UK. As we are always reminded it is really nothing more than a glorified Tourist Visa," (I think they are talking about yeah, I have kind of said that in the past), quoting further: "so I have been wondering how much protection would afford me in the future if any policy was to change regarding foreigners the Kingdom. A bit rambling, sorry and I am not looking for anyone to advise me on which visa to get, I just wondered if you had any views on the longer term strengths and weaknesses of Elite. There has been a big uptake recently as far as I can see so now possibly many more people interested in same, might be worth a video?" 

Yes I thought it was interesting, something to get talking about. Not to cast aspersions on those folks with respect to "having your back" but he says “it seems they have little sway with Immigration". Well there is kind of a presumption, and I think is unwarranted that Thailand Elite does have some influence with Immigration. They are not the same operation. Thailand Elite is a private enterprise and the government is the government. Thai Immigration sets policy and executes that policy and Thailand Elite has to deal with it just like anyone else with respect to overall immigration law and regulation. Now, yes it is a significant benefit to those who just want to stay in Thailand. They just don't want to deal with visas, they just want to basically buy their membership and let their time run in Thailand. As noted in prior videos, it is not work authorized. You can be deported. It is not Permanent Residence, it is not lawful status other than non-immigrant. It is a non-immigrant Visa it is just basically as he noted in there and I have said it is essentially a Tourist Visa, a really long Tourist Visa. Now again there are plenty of folks that avail themselves of this and they rather like it for whatever reason, but yes to presume that there is in my opinion any “special sway” associated with Thailand Elite in their relations with Thai Immigration; NO I don't really see that that's the case at all. In fact, the special sway so to speak is the Visa itself. You are buying into the program but one of the benefits is this Visa which is longer term. That is the special dispensation if you will and look, there is a special line at the airport for Thailand Elite. They do come in on a priority status when they are going through immigration out there. It is not a big deal right now with travel numbers being so low but during high season a couple of years ago, I know a lot of Elite members that really enjoyed coming through that priority line. 

That said, if you have some problem with it, where we see this happen fairly regularly, not regularly but it is not uncommon is in the context of an overstay. Somebody goes into overstay and then they have got to deal with Thai Immigration somehow and they think that "Elite has their back". Well Elite has their back to the point that you are a member and they will say “hey you are a member” but if you overstay, you overstay. They can’t magically say "oh well never mind, don't worry about that!" No that is Immigration law and that is Immigration rules. The same thing goes for things like TM 30; you are in a non-immigrant Visa and TM 30 pertains to non-immigrant visas.

Long story short, Thailand Elite is what it is. They provide the exact benefits that they advertise and for most folks that is pretty all right but that said they are not Immigration. Immigration Officials have a very different function and they are not directly affiliated with Thailand Elite.