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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawThai Retirement Visas: Comparing Embassy and Immigration Rules

Thai Retirement Visas: Comparing Embassy and Immigration Rules

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are yet again talking about retirement visas. This has been quite a hot topic recently as there have been fundamental changes with respect to the enforcement apparatus associated with Thai Retirement visas especially when it comes to the issue surrounding what I would call bank balances here in the Kingdom etc.

The thing to take away from this video, in my opinion, is the first thing to take away is you need to understand that when you are talking about Thai immigration in the Kingdom of Thailand, versus the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its various Embassies and Consulates stationed abroad, you are talking about two institutions. I tried to do a video on this discussing better coordination that is occurring between these two institutions but something that needs to be kept in mind, these are two different institutions.

Thai immigration here which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior, they have a different mandate and they also have a different set of policies, a different set of regulations and rules pertaining to how they operate and how they hand out status here in the Kingdom.  Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who primarily operates abroad, they have a different set of mandates, guidelines, rules and regulations pertaining to the issuance of visas. So the first thing to take away from this video is we are talking about two qualitatively different things; Immigration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now that being said, even within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs you have got different posts that have different protocols with respect to issuance of visas at a local level. So some jurisdictions may be able to issue visas for a prolonged period of time. For example in the United States, it is possible to get a one-year retirement visa, whereas in other jurisdictions, it may not be possible to get a one-year retirement Visa, for example a 90-day Visa may be the only option.  

Also another thing to keep in mind is Honorary Consulates which exists in many jurisdictions, Honorary Thai consulates can issue visas but often times they only have the ability to issue visas with a more truncated duration of lawful status. So those who have for example, in a Business Visa context,  the Thai Consulate New York is empowered to go ahead and issue a one-year multi-entry  B visa, whereas an Honorary Consulate, for example in Texas or something, is only entitled to issue 90 days at a time.  Now those rules were changed relatively recently but that being said it is something to note that there is a difference not only between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration but also qualitatively between Embassies and Consulates General and then Consulates General, Embassies and Honorary Consulates. So you are talking about a whole mishmash of different rules that are going to be applied rather differently on a local level. Now my personal opinion is, down the road we are going to see better coordination and sort of a more broadly uniform policy that sort of operates throughout the overall system. For example with Americans, I think we are always going to see a system whereby it is going to be possible for a Thai Retirement visa to be issued for a 1 year duration out of the United States and they are going to have different rules regarding how they are going to issue visas over there.  So for example, Immigration here in Thailand, their mandate is to go ahead and show that that individual is living here because they are if especially if they are in an extension status, and if they are living here, they need to go ahead and see evidence that that individual can support themselves in the Kingdom and the two ways that they have determined are best to do that is 800,000 baht in a bank account or 65,000 baht in income coming in on a monthly basis throughout a given calendar year.  Again Big Joke, Surachate Hakpan, the Head of Immigration, has dictated that throughout the year 2019 they will show some leniency with respect to, you know somebody may not be able to show income for the full year, they get up to September but they can only show from January to September, they don't have any income going back because the policy was different in their previous application; they were able to use for example Income Affidavits. No longer the case now. There's going to be some leniency given throughout 2019 but that being said, moving forward those are the two ways; 800,000 or 65,000 coming in on a monthly basis.

The American Consulates have a different mandate. Now they still want to see financial requirements being met. It is a little bit more stringent when you are using the US Embassies and Consulates with respect to criminal background checks etc. but in another video on this channel it is looking more and more like it is probably not be possible for people to go ahead and convert into Retirement Visa status in the Kingdom off of things like tourist visas or 30 day stamps. So in the future we might have to see everybody, for example coming from the United States, needing to get a Retirement Visa before they come to Thailand and then extending that status at that point.

But the thing to take away from this video in conclusion is we are talking about generally speaking two different sets of rules and then within MFA that is a stratification with respect to the kind of travel documents that can be issued, the duration that off etc. and then their rules vary to some degree to what Immigration here in the Kingdom mandates and for this reason it is a good idea to really understand the rules with respect to your given jurisdiction but yes the balances and the income requirements, asset requirements, that is still going to be there but what I have seen over the years, in seeing Retirement Visas issued out of for example the US, a Thai bank account might not have been necessary; they wanted to go ahead and see assets in the US, and as long as that was proved that seemed to be sufficient.

I think at least for the near-term that is probably going to remain so I think we're still going to see some differentiation between the rules that exist between the issuance of retirement visas in for example the United States and jurisdictions abroad and that is going to be different from the rules that are mandated with respect to application for extension of status here in the Kingdom in retiree status.