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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsThai Retirement Visa: Will the US Embassy still Issue Income Affidavits?

Thai Retirement Visa: Will the US Embassy still Issue Income Affidavits?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we are discussing retirement visas; specifically Income Affidavits associated therewith.

A brief sort of background on what we are talking about here. Those who wish to get a retirement visa here in the Kingdom can do that in a number of different ways. One is by proving a certain amount of money in a bank account; specifically 800,000 baht in a bank account. Another way is by proving income that is coming into ones account here in the Kingdom. For a retiree you are going to be able prove income by going ahead and showing an actual deposit being made in the Kingdom.  Oftentimes we see this in the terms of Social Security contributions being made to a person living in Thailand through their bank account. There are also certain pensions that go ahead and pay out to a bank account here in Thailand.  But one of the major ways most folks who live in Thailand on a retirement visa would get their retirement visa, is by use of what is called an Income Affidavit and this is basically just a letter that one goes down to the US Embassy in Bangkok, they fill it out and they sign it and the Embassy goes ahead and notarizes it and then upon translation and legalization of that notarized letter you can present it to Thai Immigration Authorities to go ahead and get the retirement visa.

But some recent developments at the British Embassy have me speculating as to whether or not this Affidavit of Income regime is going to continue at the American Embassy in Bangkok. Let me preface the rest of this video by simply saying this. I have no specific information as to how exactly this is going to play out. I have certain inferences and I have certain conclusions that I have made but I  do not have any direct information as of the time of this video as to how this is going to play out or if this is even going to be an issue for the American Embassy. I haven’t heard that they are even contemplating a change in policy. Again I am simply speculating based on a recent press release from the UK Embassy here in Thailand.

That press release that I just mentioned came from gov.uk; the title of it is British Embassy Bangkok to Stop Certification of Income Letters. Quoting directly, "From January 1, 2019, the British Embassy, Bangkok will no longer be providing British Nationals with letters confirming their income. This letter has previously served as a supporting document for obtaining a Thai retirement visa or a marriage visa. The British Embassy, Bangkok is stopping the certification of income letters because it is unable to fulfill the Thai Authority’s requirements to verify the income of British Nationals. British Nationals should now demonstrate that they have an amount of at least 800,000 Thai Baht in an account in Thailand for no less than 3 months prior to the visa application or a monthly income of at least 65,000 Thai baht transferred into an account in Thailand for a retirement visa.” Quoting further, “All British Nationals concerned should note that the last date for income letter applications is 12 December, 2018”. That is a kind of a red letter date for the British who are watching this video. For Americans, it might be a date of note because it might be a good idea if you want to go ahead and get an Income Affidavit, probably a good idea to do it sooner rather than later if you are watching this video because and I will get to this in a minute, based on my analysis, I think something similar is probably going to happen from the US Embassy as well.

Here is why I think that. Well the operative phraseology within this press release: “The British Embassy, Bangkok is stopping the certification of income letters because it is unable to fulfill the Thai Authority’s requirements to verify the income of British Nationals. Now this whole thing is kind of operated in something of a legal grey area or a legal limbo. The common law tradition countries, Britain for example, the United States, have a different take on notarization compared to civil law countries such as that of Thailand.  In our system, in the American system, a notary is simply one who authenticates the identity of a signator.  So if I sign something and get it notarized, generally speaking a notary just authenticates the signature. In civil law countries it may not be that limited. There are certain countries utilizing a notary system which often times will authenticate the veracity of a given statement. In Thailand, depending on circumstances, they may go ahead and do that. They may authenticate the veracity for example of a certified copy, but most of the time it is kind of similar to the United States where they are simply authenticating a signature.

That being said the Income Affidavit, notwithstanding this authentication of the signature issue, the Income Affidavit was often only used for, you go in and you get the Income Affidavit and you sign it. All the embassy was doing was authenticating was that you were indeed the signator and then at that point what Thai Immigration decided to do with that document, that was up to them and again it left this sort of disconnect a little bit but it seemed to work for all the parties concerned.  The Thais would see that Affidavit oftentimes and go ahead and issue a retirement visas based on the contents therein.  

It appears that that is no longer the case. It looks like Thai Authorities have, for lack of a better term, reiterated their need for the Embassy, at least the UK Embassy, to verify the contents of these letters and the UK embassy has basically said, “We don’t have the resources to do that, nor do we really have, it looks to me like they don’t really have the inclinations to do that and for that reason we are just going to discontinue issuing these letters.” I suspect something similar could happen with respect to the Americans. The Thais could basically say, “Look, we want you to go ahead and verify the authenticity of the information contained in the letters”,  and it is possible that the American Embassy could go ahead and say “Look we don’t have the resources or inclination to do that so we are just not going to issue these letters anymore.”

Again, I haven’t seen that happen. This is pure speculation, at least as at the time of this video, but I think it is very possible that it could happen; again because of the similarity and legal posture with respect to how notarizations are done in the UN and the United States and how that would interact similarly in those 2 different jurisdictions under this same issue within the sort of the same analysis of how this same issue would play out.  We will make another video if this is confirmed and indeed the American Embassy is going to discontinue issuing these letters, we will update you with that information as soon as we get it, so I guess, stay tuned.