Monday, 1 June 2009

Much ado about crossing

There's been a fair amount of hoo-ing and ha-ing about Thailand's latest measure to regulate foreign nationals entering the country.

Foreign nationals who enter the country by foot at border crossings are granted a 15 day visa. Previously there was no limit on the number of consecutive entries possible, however under new legislation, enforced from today, four consecutive re-entries (a total stay of 60 days) is the maximum number possible.

After 60 days of short-term visas, the traveller is only permitted to re-enter the country on a plane - which will grant an automatic 30 day visa.

As usual, the biggest moaners on Thai Visa have kicked off with arguments that Thailand is mistreating residing farangs and tourists. 

Anyone with any experience of living in Thailand can tell you this isn't the case.

The 15 day visa is pretty obsolete to anyone, be they traveller or expat [unless changing from a 3 month to a permanent stay - see below for more]. There are many other options with less hassle, reduced costs and, ultimately, a longer stay.

It seems likely that the 15 day visa will die its death very soon. It is little more than a reduced remnant of days gone when expats could stay in the country making unlimited 30 day border runs.

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Off the top of my head here is a list of different visas available to long and short term visitors to Thailand. Please feel free to highlight any others I may have missed out.

Permanent Residents

Anyone residing in Thailand on 15 days visas is a few coconuts short of a tree. Apart from the hassle, and expense, of commuting to the border every two weeks there are a number of relatively hassle-free options including:

- Work permit: one year stay through employment, must report to immigration office every 90 days

- Retirement visa: one year stay based on applicants age (50 years +) and a regular income (I forget the exactly figure which changes year on year)

- One year visa: not entirely sure how this one works but a friend recently shopped his in for a work permit, he'd had it for 2 years with no problems renewing annually.

- Marriage visa: for those married to a Thai national who can show regular income (I believe)

- Child visa: over 50 with a Thai child, there is a clause which allows you to stay for a year, if you can show proof of a regular income (not 100% on the details of this one)

Travellers

- Holiday makers: those arriving on holiday (no more than a month) by plane need not worry as a passport will receive a 3o day visa when stamped at airport immigration.

- Long stayers: anyone planning on staying longer than a month can (easily) arrange a 3 month visa from a Thai embassy. Different types are available to allow for a variety of stays, including multiple entry/exit.

4 comments:

The FrogBlogger said...

Yes def agree Jon, bottom line is it's the Thais' country, they don't want a bunch of layabout foreign backpackers bumming around any more, they want those with the income, jobs (caveat below) or independent means to contribute directly to the Thai economy. It's their prerogative! (After all, what chance a Thai of limited means getting into the UK, or the US these days?!) The 30 day visa for those flying in to the country still applies, and this covers the vast majority of those on a 'proper' holiday.

(Jobs - clearly the Thais prefer to give jobs to the Thais, unless they can't do them themselves... like teach English... in which case, fair enough, they'll hand out a few work permits).

Spot on about the 15 day visa. So what?! If that's all you're eligible for, then the Thais really don't want you that much. If you don't like it, tough luck - go and live somewhere else.

As for Thai Visa, it's painful reading on anything to do with politics, Thai rules and regs, Thai life in general. Some of the farangs that contribute, what a bunch of moaners and losers. They spoil it for the rest.

There are some alternatives around as forums go, Teak Door is ok. Then there are loads of little ones, like Expat Forum - this one is really friendly, no aggression, just needs a few more regulars to get it going.

Keith said...

I never understood why so many people were using such short stay visas. With a little research it's pretty easy to get a long stay visa from a thai embassy or consulate.

When I first came to live in Thailand I got a non-immigration "O" visa. With this I could stay in Thailand for 3 month periods valid for 1 year. So every 3 months I did a border run, about 4 hours each way on a 'casino bus' to Aranyaprateet for about 250 baht return. I simply crossed the border and did a u turn and re enter Thailand.

Everytime I re-entered Thailand I would get another 3 month stay on my passport. This could be done as many time as I wanted in the 12 month period. So just as the 12 months come to an end, you do 1 more border run. This gives you your last 3 months so your non-immigration "O" visa is good for 15months. Then you can re apply to get the visa again.

I got this visa from the thai consulate in Hull by post. I posted my application along with my passport and fee(approx 7500 baht). The reason on my application for requiring such a visa was 'visiting friends' as suggested on the thai consulate's website. I had my passport along with the visa returned to me within a week to my house in Dublin, Ireland.

So if you wish to stay in Thailand on a long stay visa there are options. You just need to do some research.

Mike said...

Jon, the figures for a visa extension based on retirement (no such thing as a retirement visa) is 50+ 800,000 in Thai bank for 2 months on initial application, 3 months for renewal, or 65,000 income per month from outside the Kingdom e.g. pension.

You can combine the two say 700,000 income and 100K in a Thai bank.

You need a letter verifying UK income from Embassy in Bangkok (costs around B2000) and if you use the bank method or a combination a letter from the bank verifying account and balance is also needed, along with photocopies of passbook pages.

I originally arrived on an O visa obtained painlessly from Hull consulate in UK. Personally I am a big supporter of Thai Immigration laws which although subject to change are very fair compared to the UK for example.

BTW I am just about to renew my visa extension so I will be posting full details on MTF in the near future.

Jon said...

Pete, absolutely spot on. If your only hope is 15 day visa then sling your hook - Thailand's not the place for you. Will check out the forums you listed, realised Thai Visa was jokes weeks after moving to LOS - it's a shame to think so many potential visitors read it and its, frankly, vitriolic spoutings.

Hi Keith - interesting points. I've heard plenty of good talk about the consulate in Hull. As I lived in London, I visited the embassy and have to say it was a thoroughly painless and simple process. No excuses for not getting a visa.

Mike, I had a feeling (/hope) you'd pop up with the information, and here it is. I agree that immigrations laws here are fair, have no time for the moaners.

Look forward to your visa post, although my process (with a work permit) is relatively simple.