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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawWhat Is the Difference Between a Thai O Visa vs a Thai O-A Visa?

What Is the Difference Between a Thai O Visa vs a Thai O-A Visa?

Transcript of the above video:

In recent months we have been seeing a lot of debate frankly online as to what constitutes a Thai O Visa vs. a Thai O-A visa. What that all means. What exactly that all is. 

Let me first of all provide some background, get some context on this. When the announcements were made that insurance was going to be coming down the pipe with respect to Retirement Visa status, there were various forms and various articles that I saw that made the point of noting that they were only discussing the O-A label if you will, the Thai O-A appellation. Those folks were right in noting that it pertained to retirees as opposed to for example Thai O Visa holders or say marriage to a Thai or those who have Thai children or Thai family. While that is correct in the strict sense of the term, I thought this video would be helpful in order to provide some clarity on exactly what the O Visa category is and whether or not there really is any substantive difference between the O and the O-A Visa other than its designation as for retirees and whether or not there would be a differentiation in the application of rules with respect to insurance for those seeking an O Visa or an O-A Visa in connection with Retirement Visas.

We have got to go to the Thai Immigration Act. That is the Thai Immigration Act of 1979. Chapter 4 is titled: Temporary Stay in the Kingdom.  Section 34: “Aliens entering the Kingdom for a temporary stay may enter the Kingdom for the following activities: and they note, diplomatic or consular missions, performance of official duties”, (most of the folks that are watching these video that is not going to pertain to you), official duties by the way generally pertains to those who are from a foreign country in the Kingdom on an official passport. They may not have diplomatic credentials but they do have an official passport which is official business that is not necessarily diplomatic “business. Continuing tourism, sports, business, investment as approved by ministries and departments concerned, investment or activities relating to investments subject to provisions of law on investment promotion, being in transit passengers , so that is like a transit visa , being the person in charge of a conveyance or crew of a conveyance arriving at a terminal, port or station in the Kingdom,  that is sort of like crewmen visa if you will, education or observation , mass media duties, missionary work under approval of ministries and departments concerned , scientific research or teacher training at a research or educational institute in the Kingdom , practicing of skilled craftsmen or specialist and finally subsection 15, other activities as prescribed in the ministerial regulations.” That is your O Visa if you will.

As noted, they don't really have a specific family bass visa category which is very dissimilar from for example the United States which has very specific delineated types of family based visas categories. Even getting as specific as things like brother/ sister visas or fiancée visa, the K-1 visa to the United States. The Thai system kind of left this open and they left it at the discretion of the Thai Immigration Authorities. As a practical matter I do not think it is particularly warranted to view the O and the O-A as dissimilar from a regulatory standard point. it has been noted multiple times in multiple different publications pertaining to the possibility of Retirement Visa insurance being issued that the Immigration Bureau has been involved in the discussions which leads me to believe that both Retirement Visas issued abroad and O Visas based on retirement, those extensions that are issued here in the Kingdom will fall under the new regulations with respect to insurance.

More to the point with respected this video is as a practical matter, the O Visa is a true "catch all" category and Thai Immigration officials have a lot of latitude to designate the regulations that will apply to those who wish to either obtain an O Visa or extend an O Visa here in the Kingdom.