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Retirement Visa Insurance Thailand: Will Anyone Be Grandfathered In?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing yet again the Thai Retirement Visa; specifically in the context of newly promulgated regulations which require insurance for those retirement visas. 

I have gotten not a few emails on this. Basically, folks have been reading through the English language version of the orders and they are trying to determine if whether or not there is a way in which an individual can be for lack of a better term "grandfathered" in to the Retirement Visa System without needing the required insurance coverage.

This line of logic seems to presuppose a couple of things:  First of all that an O-A Visa is issued abroad, only. Now that has never been my understanding of how the Immigration System works and I think people are basically just coming to a false conclusion, or an incorrect conclusion based on a rather incorrect notion that there is something inherently different between an O-A Visa that is issued abroad, versus an extension here in the Kingdom. Well for lack of better term, the O-A designation is simply an internal Immigration label if you will that delineates between people who are in O status for retirement purposes versus those who are in O status for other reasons. Most notably a lot of foreigners are in the Kingdom in O status based on marriage to a Thai National or a parentage of Thai children; under certain very limited circumstances, you might have an O Visa due to the fact that you are the child of a Thai citizen. So there are various situations where an O can be issued but an O-A simply designates retiree status. So the logic on this basically says, "Oh, no, no! You are an O Visa holder when you are extended in Thailand.  It is not O-A status, it is just an extension based on retirement.” I fail to see the qualitative difference between an O-A issued abroad, yes I understand there is a difference, the O-A issued abroad is a Visa issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has a different rights. It has different privileges attached to it whereas an O-A visa extension in the Kingdom is issued by Royal Thai Immigration Bureau under the auspices of Ministry of the Interior as opposed to under the auspices Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the rules that we have seen come down, have been issued with respect to Immigration here internally and that O-A designation in my opinion, means Retirement Visa extensions. 

Now that being stated, I was reading through it and I can kind of see folks' logic. It seems to be “well you get your O-A, you come and that insurance is good for that first year that you are here. Then you get into extension status and you may or may not necessarily need the insurance”. I don't think that is the case. I think in fact it looks to me like from the reading of the plain language of the translation, and bear in mind it is the Thai language which is controlling, but for my purposes to do in-depth analysis I need to deal with the English language side of things although we do review it in Thai and the Thai Attorneys and I discuss it in a Thai context, but that means stated it looks to me like the Retirement Visa status is re-adjudicated every year. You are granted a one-year duration of stay based on your insurance and that is that. Now I can see where someone is basically saying, “Now, Look, I am now in extension status. Are they just going to keep allowing me to extend without insurance coverage as opposed to those who got their visa abroad and had to get their insurance coverage before they got their visa and now have to keep it up? I don't think that's prudent or wise to presume that that is going to be Thai Immigration’s stance on this. I think it looks to me like you are going to have to prove up Insurance every time you go in for an extension and show that you will have coverage throughout the proposed period of your stay in the Kingdom. That being said, I can kind of see where they have teased that out. Folks have teased out the notion that you might be "grandfathered" in because you are perpetually extending rather than needing to get a whole new Visa but I think that logic is based on the notion that there is some qualitative difference between an extension in country and a so-called O-A Visa issued abroad. An O-A, the way I read it is simply an internal immigration label they place on all of those who are in O status for the specific purpose of retirement. It is a way of delineating between those who are in O status for family reasons generally and those who are in O status for retirement reasons. So do I think that ultimately there is going to end up being a sort of a “grandfathering “ in of anybody? Not in the long run, NO, although it is clear in the new rules, anybody who has had their visa already extended prior to the October 31st enactment of these regulations will be allowed to simply stay out their remaining days in the Kingdom, it could be an entire year if you were extended on October 30, you could go to October 30, in 2020 but when you go to extend, it looks to me like you are going to be having to deal with having insurance at that point and what that means for folks remains to be seen.