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Thai O vs O-A Retirement Visas: Pros and Cons

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing O and O-A Retirement Visas for Thailand and we are discussing some differences, the pros and cons.

In a recent comment on our channel, and I am going to go ahead and just pull an expert from it. Quoting directly: "I actually like it now as I had an O before”; that is an O Retirement Visa and had different parts of that 800K”, that is 800,000 Baht, “tied up during the year.” and by tied up means it has to be in a Thai Bank account, "With O-A, once they see it, I can spend a little or a lot of it plus you can get the coverage with a biggish co-payment and it works out cheap but if the worst happens you at least have coverage."  I do have to say this seems to be someone who is trying to see the glass as half-full rather than the glass being half empty.  Long story short, yes I understand what he is saying. O retirees, and this came down back in the "Big Joke" era where O retirees had to show the 800,000 Baht in a bank account and then they had a show that you it was in the account, I believe it was two months prior to the application, and it had to stay in the account 3 months past the application date before it could be used and even then it you can only go to 400,000 total balance throughout a given calendar year. So there are some restrictions with respect to this. On an O-A, I presumably think he is talking about seeking one from abroad and perhaps he is even talking about returning abroad, leaving Thailand, getting a new O-A because it is like a one off.  I look at it as like they take a photo of you at that moment and if the photo of your finances shows the amount of money they want to see, that is substantial evidence enough. Now understand with respect to an extension even under O-A, they are going to be looking at your finances etc., so yes these requirements still operate moving forward but it is a little bit less stringent; I do hear him on that. The other thing is there is an insurance requirement but one is covered.

At the same time, on an O Retirement Visa, not an O-A, on an O-A Retirement Visa where you don't need insurance, obviously you have to you don't have to deal with that expense but that can lead to problems down the road especially for those who have health issues here in Thailand. The other thing with respect to an O Retirement Visa, generally speaking it is not going to be possible to obtain one of those abroad so if you are outside of Thailand, I am not talking about people who already had one and are abroad trying to deal with getting back in during COVID, we have made a video on that specifically, I am talking about someone who is starting at Go, has nothing, it is not going to be possible to get a new O Retirement Visa from an Embassy or Consulate outside of Thailand. An O Retirement Visa Extension is generally granted here in Thailand and it emanates from Thai Immigration here internally.

They are slightly different in their ramifications. There are pros and cons to each of them. Most notably we saw issues when the lockdown first occurred where folks that had an O Retirement Visa actually weren't on the list of people that could return. It only pertained to O-A at that time. They did later amend that and we have dealt with folks getting back in on their O Retirement visa but the amendment took a while; it was a few months. In that regard it seems that O-A maybe a little bit more, I hesitate to use the term prioritised, but that is how Ministry of Foreign Affairs views the retirement categories.  They seem to narrowly focus on the O-A appellation.

That said, at the end of the day, it grants a year worth of status here in Thailand as a retiree. Neither of them can you get work authorisation. Work is specifically prohibited in retiree status under whatever label it is granted and again a little bit of cosmetic as well as substantive differences between those two categories. That may change. I made a number of videos in the past about how I think ultimately we will probably see these two categories converge but that may take some time. That would require a bit of momentum with respect to the bureaucracy and changing the regulations to make that happen. I think ultimately one day we will probably see it. It may be later rather than sooner and it remains to be seen. But for now we have this differentiation. There are differences, there are pros and cons. We will keep you updated if that is to change as the situation progresses.