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Thai Retirement Visas: Update on Combining Income & Bank Balance

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are going to be yet again discussing Thai Retirement Visas. This is an update, a further extension of a prior video discussing combined bank balance and income.  In that video I was much more pessimistic as to whether or not that practice was going to be allowed but there seems to be some conflict with my statements so if I need to stand corrected, I will stand corrected. 

As of yet we haven't seen this stuff fully implemented until March 1st, so I don't think for yet another probably six to eight weeks, we can say that the jury is fully in with respect to all of these issues. So those viewers of this video keep in mind I'm just trying to continue the analysis as the information comes out and as the situation seems to kind of evolve for lack of a better term. 

Like I said 6-8 weeks from March 1st, I think we're going to know one way or the other how everybody is going to be dealing with these kind of adjudications but even within what I have been reading, there seems to be some conflict with respect to this specific issue of combined bank balance and money coming in.  What I want to be clear in the preface of this video is, I think it's better to look at this from the position of pulling the money back out rather than the money coming in because I think maintaining a year round balance of 400,000 baht and then allowing money to come in in a one-year tranche that ends up adding up to 800,000 baht, I think that's okay.  But here's the thing. Folks that are using the income coming in, in conjunction with the 400,000 are not letting that income just build up until they hit the balance of 800,000, they want Immigration to go ahead and add up the total money that came in total throughout a year into an account, the aggregate, and they want them to count that for purposes of making the 800,000 baht for meeting the income requirement. That specific issue seems to be a little bit more murky to me and I will get into why right now. 

First of all, and I am going to go ahead and put this up. I found this on the Nation and they ultimately got it from Thai Visa, and we got to thank all those folks for this.  This is a translation of the “Criteria for Consideration of an Alien's Application for Stay in the Kingdom” attached to the order of the Royal Thai Police number 35/2561, dated January. 2019.

Now what is of interest to me is Section 5 and then we're going to go back to Section 4, so let me read Section 5. "Must have an annual earning and fund deposited with a Commercial Bank in Thailand totaling of no less than Thai Baht 800,000 until the filing date."  So that's the rule that we have seen before with respect to you need to have 800,000 on hand when you file. Moving forward, quoting directly, “The said fund must remain in the account prior to and after the permission is granted and the alien can make a withdrawal under the same conditions as stated in 4.” Now let me go back to 4. “At least 2 months prior to filing date and at least three months after being granted permission, the alien must have funds deposited in a bank in Thailand of no less than THB 800,000. The alien can withdraw the funds 3 months after being granted permission and the remaining balance must be no less than 400,000 baht,”  

So section 5 basically says, and let me just quote one more time, “must have an annual earning and funds deposited with a Commercial Bank in Thailand totaling no less that THB 800,000 until the filing date". Okay so what they are saying is that it appears that a mixture of income and funds on hand is possible.  But as they go further in 5 they simply refer back to 4, and they say "it must remain in the account, and has to stay there after permission is granted as stated in section 4." In section 4 we revert back to 60 days prior to the application, 90 days after the application you have to maintain a constant balance of 800,000,” and you have to maintain 400,000 throughout the year.  So to me, there just seems to be a lot of gray area on this specific topic because how can you have a mixture if you have to have the 800 for the five months? To me that is self-evident because they say specifically in section 5, you go back to section 4.

What I think this particular section was designed for, is people that are either converting from a work visa here in the Kingdom, so a B Visa with a work permit, who have accumulated, let's say they have got 400,000 in the bank and throughout the course of their last few months of employment, their salary has added up. For example minimum salary for most farang from the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere, the sort of the American area, those areas, is 50,000 baht per month, so presumably you would need to have had 8 months of accumulated income that comes into the account; totals up to 800,000 but in my opinion needs to be on balance so you can't pull it out; it just needs to be accumulating into your account, and then once you hit the 800 they will then allow you to convert into Retirement Visa. Section 5 would seem to allow that. 

That being said , I think what most people want is, "can I keep a balance of 400,000 and then for example my pension money comes in, it comes in of a  certain amount which in the aggregate adds up to another 400,000 or more but I am spending that, I'm using it. It looks to me like that is not going to be possible because they want the money in the account, under the same terms as using a bank balance. So yes, they will count the income coming in.  It doesn't have to be an 800,000 baht lump that comes in but what I think they are saying here is “okay, we will let her use this income but it needs to accrue, sit on balance and then be pulled out under the same terms as you would pull out the 800,000 baht under the circumstances in section 4. Again, we don't know on this how this is going to be interpreted and implemented as a practical matter by the Immigration Police remains to be seen.

That being said there seems to be some insight to be found in a recent article from the Phuket News, . The title of the article, Holding the Balance: Phuket Immigration Clarified New Rules on Retirement Visas to Start March 1st, this thing is very long and it is very good.  Those who are watching this video check it out and check out the Thai Visa, the translation of the regs, that is also a good one to check out too.  But Phuket news, this one is rather interesting because they did an actual interview with an Immigration Officer down in Phuket and bear in mind, provincially there is a little bit of variance province to province, immigration office to immigration office, in the way that the interpretation and implementation of these rules is done; it is not in huge variance but it can be slightly different. So I am going to quote a few parts of this directly. "Under the income requirement, applicants must receive at least 65,000 baht per month Colonel Archeep explained." Quoting further “Under the new rules, the 800,000 baht must be in the account at least 2 months before applying for the visa (permit to stay) and must remain in the account for at least 3 months after the visa has been issued, Colonel Archeep said.”  Quoting further, “Asked what happens to applicants who are discovered next year dipping into the account bringing the balance below 400,000, Colonel Archeep said don't do it, just don't do it. Keep it at 400,000.”  And finally this is where it gets a little vague. Okay, so this quote, “The third and most popular option is to have 400,000 baht in a Thai bank account and receive moneys throughout the year that altogether total at least 800,000 baht.” And that is what we are talking about here. I urge people to go and read this. Make your own analysis of this because we just simply don't know how this is going to play out until after March,1st. But that being said, it is noteworthy that they brought this up and they just let it hang out there.

Here is what I think. That last statement of 400,000 plus money coming in to make 800,000, I think that is probably going to happen but here is what people are not looking at. Thai Immigration, according to the regs. as translated to English, and there may be some discrepancy further there, so take it for what it is worth, but here is what I think. 400,000 yes! You use moneys coming in to make the 800,000, yes! but here is what they are not saying. Can you pull it out? And I think the answer to that is No. I think you have to have the 800 per the terms of the balance of a lump sum as stated in section 4 and I think that is clear because 5 refers back to 4.

So what I'm trying to say and sort of in conclusion to this video, I know it is rather long, the thing to take away from this is yes you can accrue up the 8 but I think you have to hold the 8 for the 2 months prior and the 3 months after the application and you're going to have to accrue it back up over the course of the next calendar year. So depending on how one's pension is structured this may be fine, but for those who are thinking that they are going to count the money coming in but not kept on balance because it is pulled out to use to live, I don't think that is going to work; at least within the 5 month period where you need to have the 800. I think over the course of that 5 months as per their translated regulations, I think over the course of that 5 months you have got to have 800,000 baht. It doesn't matter that in the aggregate you had 800,000 baht throughout the prior calendar year; you have to have it 2 months prior to the application and the 3 months following.

That being said, we have yet to see how this is going to be implemented. It is clear to me that there seems to be differences of interpretation within the ranks of Immigration so how this all ultimately shakes out remains to be seen but of course we will make a video as soon as we see what is coming down the pipe with respect to that issue and get it out as soon as we can.