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Thai Retirement Visas: Response to ThaiVisa.com Commentary

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing ThaiVisa.com and my hats off, tip of the hat, my thanks to thaivisa.com and some of the forum members over there. They went ahead and were discussing one of our prior videos. 

Specifically though they were discussing some comments I specifically made in the comment section in response to remarks that were made in prior videos regarding Thai Retirement Visas. 

The specific issue that came to the forefront was many of the commentators or forum posters in Thai Visa thought that issues surrounding Medical Insurance and Thai O Retirement Visas sounded strange. Specifically one comment I thought pretty well got to the heart of what we were dealing with in there and that states, quoting directly: "Issue is he said that he personally dealt with people who were initially on  non-O, not non-OA who were seeking extensions and that these individuals were required to have Health Insurance. We have not read anything yet on Thai Visa about this. In fact, many have posted this was not required when they renewed recently. Who would you believe?"  Going back to just quote directly what I said: "I have personally dealt with multiple cases in the past 60 days in which individuals have been extending as O retirees have been required to obtain Medical Insurance in order to maintain their status moving forward." Now to be clear, that did happen. I will go into some of the details on that and I did deal with multiple cases. I haven't dealt with any here recently but right after these regs. came down, and in the fourth quarter of 2019, after the new medical exam regulations were enacted, I dealt with a lot of correspondence surrounding Retirement Visas and Medical Insurance under many different sets of circumstances. Two different clients came at me at that time that were actually married to Thai spouses; they were actually in two different provinces, and they told me "yeah we have O Retirement Visas and we are being told by the local Immigration Office that we have got to have Medical Insurance". I basically had to look at what was going on. They were in retiree status and basically I said "well you know one way to get around that is, let's go ahead and get you guys marriage visas" because that has a lower threshold for finances and the Medical Insurance requirements do not pertain specifically to Marriage Visas at least of the time of this video and at that time. 

So in both of those cases there was a marriage component that was going on. This happened shortly after the regs. came down in two different provinces. I have taken a lot of flak, again in comments both on our channel and I believe on thaivisa.com as well although I can't point specifically to it at this time. Off the top of my head I I think that is right but I am not going to say that 100%. I definitely know in comments on our channel that there were folks who thought it was odd that I would not mention specific Immigration Offices or specific facts involving the case. I have a duty of confidentiality with respect to my clients and I can't just be divulging information that could be used to infer who the person at issue was, where that information came from, and also it is not particularly what I am looking to do with this channel to put specific Immigration Offices on the spot regarding things that they do. These regulations were vague. I have gone over this many, many times. When they were implemented I don't think line officers had a full grasp with exactly what was going on with respect to these and under those circumstances, calls were made, information was given out, that sort of in the fog of the moment might not have been perfect,  but people had to deal with and that is just the way things were. Those were the two cases I deal with specifically where I saw the passports and I saw the status that both of these individuals were in. Both of these individuals just coincidentally happened to both be married to Thai nationals.  I am not certain if perhaps the Immigration Officers in question were both sort of trying to nudge, for lack of better term, those folks over into marriage status as it was kind of a better status for them to be in. I can't say for certain what was in the mind of those folks. That being said I did see their documentation. They were in O retiree status, we moved them over to Marriage Visas because they had been told or at least they told me they had been told that they had been denied an extension because they didn't have Medical Insurance. Again, it could have something to do with they were married and the Officer in question perhaps wanted them to go ahead and get over into a Marriage Visa. There is a certain element when you are dealing with, I hesitate to use the term bureaucrats but then basically probably the best descriptor here, where you are dealing with someone that deals with this all the time, they have a certain sense of order within the system that they like to see so I could see an Immigration Officer say "Oh you need to get over into a Marriage Visa status and they kind of nudge you in that direction". That being said, that is what went down with those specific cases. Those occurred within a couple of weeks of the regs. coming down. 

After that, I received a number of emails from different individuals saying that they had an O Retirement Visa and they were being asked to have Medical Insurance. In most of those cases I would inquire further and find out if it was an OA.  In a couple of those I would inquire further and I would find out that those individuals had left the country; they were just done with it. They just sort of threw up their hands or I got no response and I never saw the actual documentation with respect to those visas specifically. So I don't know on the plethora of emails that I got because I never actually saw the passports.  On 2 specific cases though, shortly after the regs. came down, those cases were converted into Marriage Visas. Yes they were O Retirement status visas and no we didn't ultimately extend them with medical insurance. What we did is moved him to a Marriage Visa and went at it from there. Now they are basically dealt with and they will continue to extend in marriage status. 

Something I really didn't appreciate in the comments from thaivisa.com is this implied and sometimes explicitly stated notion that I am trying to mislead people on this channel. That is not at all my intention with the respect to this channel. The information I am trying to provide and "yeah if I do seem somewhat pessimistic at times, it is because that is kind of part and parcel with my job. As an Attorney, and in any kind of legal service, you have to kind of be looking at the worst case scenario or at least maintain it in the back of one's mind.” I thought it was interesting that when I was sort of for lack of better term accused of being misleading, that I kind of thought of folks who told me in comments, that I was somewhat insane for lack of a better term in presuming that the Income Affidavit would come to an end.  I remember comments, I specifically remember one on Facebook where someone told me: "Oh, they won't get rid of Income Affidavits," and within about six months or even less time I think actually, the Income Affidavit was revoked and that was no longer something that could be used. So, I am not trying to mislead anyone here. The fact is there are multiple different cases that are going on at any given time and you know to use a colloquialism from where I am from "there's a million ways to skin a cat" you know. Some Immigration Officers are going to make findings differently than others. It kind of comes with the territory of having this factually driven and discretionarily driven adjudication process with respect to immigration. You can just get some rather wild findings when dealing with the system. Another thing that was brought up by other commenters, quoting directly from this one commenter: "We have not read anything yet on Thai Visa about this." Well as commenters later pointed out: "Just because it is not on Thai Visa, does not necessarily mean that it is not anywhere."  Just because people don't post to Thai Visa, doesn't mean it didn't actually happen. 

The other thing is somebody else commented, "He never said all or most O cases."  That is correct. This happened a few times. I did say multiple. At the time I was kind of conflating a lot of the emails I got but yes I did see more than one case involving an O retiree; again both of them ended up over in Marriage status and I don’t exactly know why that finding was made but it simply was.  There was a final comment on there which basically was implying I had said something about TRICARE in the past with respect to Medical Insurance. It was implied in one of the comments that the fact that TRICARE  has yet to be officially designated as something that is accepted with respect to Medical Insurance states that I don't know what I am talking about, whatever you want to say. If you go back to my video specifically on TRICARE, I never said that I think it is going to be. I think it is possible. I do think that Immigration is probably, when they get around to it, these regulations have not been out that long. I am making this video in February of 2020. These regulations came down at the very end of October 2019. It takes a while to see how this stuff all shakes out. As I said in that prior video, the TRICARE issue I don't think they are particularly looking to get rid of TRICARE holders and recipients. At the same time we don't exactly know what they are doing with respect to the specifics on designated approve medical insurance. I think there could be a day in the future where revision happens with respect to this overall policy and they decide that TRICARE holders are eligible to extend without needing any further coverage. I think that is definitely a possibility for a variety of different reasons. I never said it was happening. I never said it was a foregone conclusion that it would happen. I simply said I thought it was possible and I think I think it is a good idea. I think it would be in line with overall policy and the reason for the policies being implemented, but I never said it was going to be brought in specifically.

So the thing to take away from that is, I am not talking in absolutes here. I am simply talking in terms of what I think may be possible with respect to how this could evolve and I am trying where possible to provide some sort of foresight with respect to how this all might ultimately play out.

One final note, and I have noted it many times, in many commentaries, both on video and in writing, the designation between O - A and O is an internal one that I have found nowhere  outlined either at law or a specific regulation which creates a hard-and-fast distinction between these two labels. These are labels which are simply used internally by Thai Immigration, also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I don't believe it is overly prudent, in a very long term sense, to presume that for now and evermore there will always be this distinction between O vs. O-A category or I should say labeled visas. I don't think that that is going to be how this plays out in the march longer-term. Exactly when that changes I do not know but I think it is possible that at some point in the future someone will say "Look, we are going to consolidate those two labels. There is no point in this distinction because there really isn't one there. It all falls under the same category under the Immigration Act and we are going to treat them all the same”. Exactly when that happens I don't know. Exactly will that happen, I am not saying that it will but I think it is something to be aware of in the back of one's mind that it could happen at some point in the future.