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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawSo They Aren't Thai "Retirement Visas"?

So They Aren't Thai "Retirement Visas"?

Transcript of the above video:

The impetus for making this video came from a recent comment on one of our videos on our channel recently, quoting directly: "Stop calling extensions and Non O, Non O-A "Retirement Visas", they are not any such thing. You get 1-year extensions on them for various reasons which may or may not be for retirement. The Visa simply should not be called "Retirement Visas", you do that often Ben."  Yeah I do that often because that is what they are. 

Long story short, I have gotten into this going back I don't know we do so many of these videos, it was probably at least a year and a half, maybe a couple of years ago, we got into this semantic argument and I remember being in law school, like the first year we were in law school and we had this old Judge teaching, I think it was Ethics, something. In any event, he was one of these guys that had just been around the profession forever and he said once "never confuse semantics for substantive law". The point he was trying to make was you can get kind of bogged down to labeling things without getting to the bottom of what things actually are and you get into a lot of semantic arguments quite frankly without any real, you are just spinning your wheels was basically his point; you are not getting to the substance of what you are dealing with. So, I can't exactly figure out from this comment what the issue is. If it is calling them extensions or if it is calling them Retirement Visas in the O and O-A category, but in either case the argument behind this is wrong. I have gone into this before. I remember reading something, years back, maybe again a year and a half minimum talking about how extensions of stay are not visas. That isn't true. Anyone that is in Thailand that is not a citizen with a right of abode, that is a foreign national, that is here legally is going to be on some kind of Visa status. They may be Visa exempt and come in on a Visa exemption stamp but their passport has been Visad, which is a word, okay. You have a passport and then when it is stamped with a Visa, it is Visad, okay? I am not making this to try and put anyone on the spot or anything like this. The reason for it is this notion that extensions aren't Visas is very odd to me and it is also sort of a semantic point but it doesn't get to the substance of even what folks that get on this topic try to differentiate. Yes, there is a difference between visas issued by Embassies abroad and extensions or visas issued in Thailand but the fact of the matter is, unless you are a citizen of a country, in this case Thailand; Residents are a little bit of a different thing, I will kind of speak to that in a moment, but unless you are a resident with a right of abode in a country, in order to maintain lawful status you have to maintain a Visa and here in Thailand that is exactly what you are dealing with here. I have heard this before, I kind of want to put this one to bed. Extensions, yes it is a different process than getting a Visa issued from abroad but it is nonetheless a Visa. It is not some substantively different thing; it is not even a different thing at all. If you are in Thailand and you are maintaining lawful status as a Non-Immigrant, you have to have a Visa - that is what it is. There is no difference between an extension done by Immigration here in Thailand and a Visa issued abroad. They are both Non-Immigrant Visas.

Now okay citizens are obvious. If you have a passport and you can travel into a country you don't need a visa; those people don't have a Visa. But if you have a passport and you are going to a foreign country, you need a stamp in order to get into that country that is a Visa stamp. Your passport has been Visad; it has been stamped with a Visa. Residence is an interesting thing and there could be an argument to be made and I don't think it is exactly a semantic point, that someone who has obtained Residence in a given country who is just staying in the country has a Visa. You can argue with that point, well that person is a resident, they are residing there, that is where they live. That said, even in Thailand those who wish to leave and come back have to obtain an Immigrant Visa in order to re-enter the country. Now again these are slightly different things but that is issued by Immigration here in Thailand; you leave and come back in. It is similar to a reentry permit. But I can kind of see where folks could, reasonable people can disagree as to whether or not residency in this case Permanent Residency is Visa status or at that point have you substantively changed your status? Strong argument to be made there especially under the Immigration Act of '79 because you are treated differently under the Act. A Resident doesn't have to deal with all the things that a Non-Immigrant Visa holder has to deal with.

So again, setting aside the extension versus visa thing, and I have discussed this in other videos even more deeply frankly, but long story short, anyone that is in Thailand especially in Non-Immigrant Visa status, no matter how they are maintaining that status, they are in a Visa status, so let's leave that aside. Now the issue of a "and non-O and non-O-A Retirement Visas", they are no such thing”. Well I don't even know where you get that, okay. We have discussed this at length in many videos on this channel before. The O category, Retirement Visas are not even mentioned in the Immigration Act. The O category is created under the miscellaneous subcategory within the Act that stipulates that Visas can be created per Ministerial Regulations. O has always been kind of colloquially referred to as “other” visas just O status, other status, meaning you are not in a B Visa; you are not in an ED Visa; you are not in a Tourist Visa; you are not in a Religious Visa; you are not in a Media Visa; you are not in F status for Foreign diplomats or people on official business here in Thailand. You are not in any of those statuses so you are in O status. Marriage does fall under the O category. Now that said, they remain visas and there is a specific regulatory structure which pertains to retirement as we have discussed at length, multiple times throughout the tenure of this channel. There is the O Retirement Visa. Again it is a Retirement Visa and I want to go ahead and throw this image up on screen. We just pulled this off the internet, I pulled this off of Google images. You can see what a Retirement Visa looks like. It is just sort of an exemplar but you will see they stamp it with the stamp that says “Retirement”. I don't know how much more explicit it can get but it is a Retirement Visa. Yes, it is under the miscellaneous category for the purpose of retirement but that is what it is and there is a regulatory framework which speaks directly to Retirement Visas. Things like - you must be 50 years of age; you must meet certain financial requirements; under the O-A category certain insurance requirements. This is a Retirement Visa. It is a Visa issued for the purpose of retirement. So to be clear, this notion that extensions are not visas is erroneous. Visa status maintained in Thailand either through Visa issuance at an Embassy or Consulate abroad or via Immigration extensions, renewals of status within Thailand at an Immigration Office, those are all visas. Meanwhile, the O sort of “blanket umbrella” category covers a lot of ground, that is very true but there are regulatory structures in place for obtaining for example an O Retirement Visa, so an O visa for purposes of retirement or an O-A Visa which is specifically for retirement. You can extend that status from the time you enter in O-A status, O-A Retirement Visa status. So, I don't know what this commenter is getting at that there are no Retirement Visas; that is exactly what they are.