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Thailand’s Immigration Changes Retirement Visa Rules Confusing Many Expats and Immigration Officials

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BANGKOK – Days after new rules changed how visas are processed for foreign retirees some Expats in Thailand and Immigration Officials are confused with the new requirement provoking a lot of concern for people making applications for ‘Retirement’ and ‘Marriage’ visas so they can remain in the Kingdom.

Khaosod English News reported that immigration officials were discussing with the legal department what these new policies mean,” an immigration official involved in approving such applications said in an interview. “Right now we are all scrambling to find out what the procedures are”.

The source also said some operatives who oversee visa affairs will file memos to their commanders declaring that they are no longer sure how to process requests under the new regulations published Monday.

“We will ask them to reconsider,” said the official, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Thailand’s Immigration Bureau has announced a major change regarding the financial requirements for foreigners seeking retirement visas, The Nation has reported.

The new requirements are reportedly aimed at ending the practice of visa brokers falsifying bank statements for foreigners who do not have enough money to meet the financial demands for a retirement visa extension.

The online news site said that from March 1, 2019, foreigners who apply for a retirement extension will need to keep Bt800,000 in the bank for three months after the extension and Bt400,000 in the bank thereafter.

It was previously acceptable for foreigners to only show Bt800,000 in the bank at the time of application, with no time limit.

Foreigners must still be able to show Bt800,000 baht in a Thai bank two months before the application for the retirement extension.

According to the new police order, the requirements are:

1. Applicants must have been granted a non-immigrant visa (Non-Im)

2. Applicants must be 50 years of age or over

3. Applicants must have evidence of having income of no less than Bt65,000 or;

4. At least 2 months prior to filing date, and at least 3 months after being granted permission, the alien must have funds deposited in a bank in Thailand of no less than Bt800,000. The alien can withdraw the funds three months after being granted permission and the remaining balance must be no less than Bt400,000 or;

5. Must have and annual earning and fund deposited with a commercial bank in Thailand totalling no less than Bt800,000 until the filing date. 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).

The new requirements to keep Bt400,000 in the bank for three months after the retirement visa is granted is effective from March 1, 2019.

In October 2018, the then newly appointed immigration chief Surachate Hakpan vowed to crack down on visa agents who falsify documents for foreigners applying for visas and extensions of stay.

The news comes after Fabulous 103 FM in Pattaya earlier reported that Thai immigration was considering introducing a requirement to force some retirees to show a bank statement with Bt800,000 balance every three months.

Reactions on Thaivisa, a webforum frequented by expats in Thailand, was overwhelmingly negative, with many commentators saying the regulations undercut claims from Thai officials that the deposit is to ensure they have sufficient resources to get by.

“Then why keep up the charade that this money is to cover living expenses if it can only be used six months out of the year,” user Connda wrote. “So…what’s next? What’s the next hammer to drop?”

“And I thought the 800,000 baht was for living expenses, not as an interest earner for the Thai banks!” user Madmitch vented.

Meanwhile, in October 2018, the then newly appointed immigration chief Surachate Hakparn vowed to crackdown on visa agents who falsify documents for foreigners applying for visas and extensions of stay.

Just last month the Immigration Chief said he had recommended local Immigration officers be ‘lenient’ in relation to the latest enforcement of income requirements but noted that the leniency would only be for the remainder of 2019.

This is the order in Thai on the Thai Immigration website: Click Here