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Is Insurance Required for Thai Retirement Visa Extension?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the Thai Retirement Visa. We previously made a video, very quickly actually because we didn't really have time to go ahead and do a full analysis on the recently promulgated changes to the regulations pertaining to retiree visa status here in the Kingdom. We have had now an opportunity. Myself and the Thai legal  staff have gone ahead and reviewed some of this stuff and we are going to go ahead and try to do a couple of videos here, pretty well simultaneously, in order to provide some insight and information as to how this presumably will operate moving forward. 

The thing to keep in mind with respect to this video is these regulations do not come into effect until October 31, 2019 so as of the time of this filming, they have yet to come into effect and as a practical matter it is difficult for us to foresee exactly how these rules are going to be applied until we actually start seeing cases being processed through the Thai Immigration Offices here in the Kingdom.  

That being stated, moving forward to it, a real question has come up with regard to whether or not this new insurance requirement is going to pertain to extensions in the Kingdom.  Now we are going to go ahead and put on screen the order; we have got copies of the order. They put the order of the Royal Thai Police out in both English and Thai. One thing I thought was interesting to quote "It is deemed expedient to amend the criterion conditions for consideration of an alien's application for a temporary stay in the Kingdom in accordance with the Cabinet resolution as of April 2, 2019 which approved in principle, to add a criterion for consideration concerning a health insurance requirement for an alien applying for Non-immigrant Visa class O-A, not exceeding one year."  There seems to be some confusion on this in the wider community. Suffice it to say, it appears to me this is not exclusively being applied to O-A visas issued abroad and those who are extending their visa in the Kingdom are doing so pursuant to section O, or the O Visa category, which under the law and we have gone through the law on this channel many times. It is just another category; it is a miscellaneous category.  Basically it reads: "All other reasons as deemed by Ministerial regulations." There is no Retirement Visa specifically stipulated in the Immigration Act of '79. All of this is promulgated pursuant to immigration's ministerial regulations prerogatives.  They are basically enacting this stuff regulatorily as they have this miscellaneous category to allow retirees in. So to bring it to a fine point here, the notion that this only applies to visas issued abroad because it is an O-A Visa, as opposed to an extension in the country, the way I am reading this New Order that is not what is happening here. This pertains to retirement visas, both sought abroad, at an Embassy or Consulate abroad, as well as an extension here in the Kingdom. Moving forward through the report, it should be noted "only for an alien who has been granted Non-immigrant Visa class O-A must buy a Thai health insurance online which covers the length of stay in the Kingdom with no less than Baht 40, 000 coverage for outpatient treatment and no less than Baht 400, 000 for inpatient via the website", and there is a website on there. We have gone through this website before. It basically lists the insurance providers that can provide this narrowly tailored insurance policy for maintaining retirement status.  

Also, the heading of this criterion, we will throw that up on the screen for you. The heading states, "Criteria for consideration of granting an alien's extension of stay in the Kingdom, attachment to the order of the Royal Thai Police number 548-2562 dated September 27, 2019. So again the thing to take away from this video is to me it is pretty clear from the plain language of the Order, at least the translated English version of the Order, that extensions are being covered by these new regulations.

Meanwhile, in an article from Khaosod English, that is khaosodenglish.com, the article is titled Health Insurance Will be Mandatory for Retiree Visa Holders. Quoting directly: "Starting October 31, foreigners over 50 entering the country with an O-A Visa, must show that they have valid health insurance covering their period of stay Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said." Quoting further, and this is important, “The new rules will be applied to those who enter the country for the first time and those who wish to extend their visas, Sathit said." So that to me is about as close to coming from the source as you can get. That is from the Health Ministry and those are the folks that went ahead and assisted in promulgating these regulations and it appears clear to me, from both our reading of the order, our interpretation of what it says in that order, as well as comments made by Thai government officials,  retirement visas, both sought abroad and extended in-country, are going to have a new criterion added on to the requirements for obtaining either the visa or the extension and that new requirement is going to be the insurance that is stipulated that provides 400,000 baht in inpatient treatment and 40,000 baht in outpatient treatment. 

So it looks to me like it is pretty clear, from here on we are going to be dealing with a retirement visa regime that requires insurance in order for people to remain in the Kingdom in retiree status