About Thai Visa News
Created in 2011, ThaiVisa News provides immigration information, immigration news, and travel guide and updates for people wishing to visit Thailand. The gateway to detailed information and requirements about Thai Visa application, whether researching travel opportunities, seeking information on travel restrictions, or looking for advice and assistance on how to move into Thailand. The comprehensive information of this website means that all answers to your immigration questions are at your fingertips.
Early this month, the Immigration Bureau of Thailand has announced an easier and more systematic way of applying for the Visa on Arrival (VOA) prior to entering the Kingdom. Herein, citizens from eligible countries can now start their application ahead of time by completing the VOA form online.
This new online system is an upgrade from the traditional procedure wherein the applicants would have to complete the entire process at the immigration section in international airports when they arrive in Thailand. But now, by simply following the instructions at the Thai immigration website, the application for visa on arrival becomes a lot easier:
- First, make sure that you meet all the eligibilities for the VOA application which can be found on the Thai immigration website (www.immigration.go.th). If you are qualified, you can start the process and fill out the online VOA application form. You will receive a “Transaction Reference Number” (TRN) once completed. The application form will then be ready for printing which you will need to bring with you when you travel to Thailand.
- Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand, there are two service counters where you can proceed to obtain the VOA stamp. This is much less complicated than the old process because your application has already been registered and therefore your information will just automatically be pulled out from their database. You have to make sure that you bring the printed VOA form, especially when you are travelling as a group.
- Finally, once the immigration has confirmed your information and received the visa fee, you will then receive your 15-day entry stamp. Yes, that is right! Only 15 days limited stay is permitted for VOA application.
To ensure a hassle-free travel, make sure that you are aware of the following important reminders:
- You must be a citizen of any of the eligible countries permitted by the Ministry of Interior.
- Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days upon your entry.
- You must have a return ticket which will not exceed the 15-day limit of your stamp. Please note that visa on arrival stamp (VOA) is only valid on the date of issue.
- You must declare an address that can be verified.
- You must pay the visa fee using Thai currency only. This fee is non-refundable.
- You must have sufficient financial capacities.
The Thai Immigration Bureau is expecting that this new system would encourage more tourists to come to the country. Though this new system is now enforced, this does not mean that you can no longer do the VOA application at the airport. But if you want to save time, it is good to take advantage of this new online application.
It is always wise to check your visa options first before travelling. Not only will it eliminate any possible problem along the way, but it will also make things more conducive to your travel expectation. While there are countries of which majority are western travellers who are entitled to get a 30-day stamp upon arrival in Thailand, this new measure by the Thai Immigration Bureau is still a good news for VOA applicants.
The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially confirmed the availability of the new 6-month multiple-entry tourist visa beginning 13th of November 2015. The multiple-entry visa, according to the ministry, was a new measure to further increase the number of international arrivals in Thailand. With the implementation of this visa, the Thai government banks on seeing improvements on the country’s tourism sector while also aiming at facilitating the forthcoming ASEAN Community.
Multiple-entry vs single-entry tourist visa
The new multiple-entry tourist visa is expected to benefit people who make frequent trips to Thailand. This option will also become available to all nationalities. While it is similar to the regular tourist visa in some aspects, the multi-entry tourist visa still offers new features which make it quite interesting to many international travelers.
- The validity period of the new multiple-entry visa is six months; thus, saving tourists the hassle of having to lodge several visa applications in case they wish to make a few trips to Thailand in a span of six months.
- Foreigners who have this visa will be able to travel in and out of Thailand for as often as they want, for up to 60 days per entry. Unlike the regular tourist visa, a re-entry permit will not be required if a foreigner wants to leave and come back before the 60 days duration is over.
- When the holder of the multiple-entry visa makes a border trip and returns back one day before the expiration of the visa, he will still be permitted to stay in Thailand for another 60 days; hence, giving him up to 2 months extension to the visa.
- The multiple-entry visa will cost THB 5,000 which is still cheaper than the total cost of applying for two tourist visas with 30-day extension on each.
What tourists cannot do with the multiple-entry tourist visa
As previously mentioned, foreigners with multiple-entry tourist visa can only stay in Thailand for a maximum period of 60 days per entry, after which they must make an exit trip or apply for an extension at a local immigration office. Failure to do so will require them to pay an overstay fine.
Also, in contrary to what many people think, the multiple-entry tourist visa cannot be applied for nor can be renewed from inside Thailand. Foreigners who wish to obtain this type of visa will have to visit the Thai Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. Although, there are embassies in the neighboring countries of Thailand which accept applications from certain nationalities.
And finally, foreigners who intend to apply for the multiple-entry tourist visa visa must keep in mind that this visa is issued for the purpose of tourism only. Under the current immigration rules, travelers on a tourist visa are not permitted to participate in any type of work during their stay in Thailand. This is regardless if they are engaging themselves in a paid type of work or in an unpaid voluntary activity.
For someone who has lived in Thailand for quite some time, becoming a Thai resident would be an ideal option. This is in view of the advantages which are associated with having the permit. Foreigners who are holders of Thai resident permit are allowed to live in Thailand without a need for any visa. They also have the ability to seek out local financing through banks or financial institutions in case they decide to purchase condominiums.
To those who are wanting to become a Thai citizen, obtaining a permit is an objective that they must set their sights on. A foreigner can only become eligible for Thai citizenship after being a permanent resident for five consecutive years. In addition, the child of the holder of permanent residence permit automatically obtains Thai nationality at the time of birth when the child is born in Thailand.
The Thai immigration has a quota for all immigrants applying for Thai residence permit. Subject to the provisions of Section 42, 43 and 51 of Thailand Immigration Act, only up to 100 persons per year from each country and not exceeding 50 persons who have no nationality are allowed to apply.
In order to qualify, the foreigner must be a passport holder of his current nationality who has been issued with a non-immigrant visa on the basis of one year visa extension for the total of at least three consecutive years by the time the application is submitted. Furthermore, the applicant must personally quality under one of the following categories if he wishes to enter and take residence in the Kingdom. Other circumstances which are outside any of the categories below may still be considered on a case-to-case basis.
At least 10 million baht must be invested in a limited or public company, stock market, etc.
Must be an executive and a signatory, for at least one year, of registered business with a capital of no less than 10 million baht.
Must be earning at least either 80,000 baht per month for two years or 50,000 per month for two consecutive years of which job is in an area of interest to the economy of Thailand.
Must have held a work permit for at least three consecutive years and is working in the current company for at least one year.
Must be supporting (or being supported by) Thai citizen such as husband and wife, parents or children who is single and is below 20 years of age; or
Must be supporting (or being supported by) foreigner who already had residence permit
Must be holding a Bachelor or a higher degree and is required to work for at least three consecutive years in Thailand with the current position.
Before the Thai immigration starts accepting Permanent Resident applications, the Ministry of Interior first makes a public notification about its annual quota for issuing permits in the Government Gazette each year. Once the announcement is published, applicants may then choose their application category and submit all the required documents.
Note that each category, as listed above, has different requirements as far as the required documentation and applicable fees are concerned. The consideration period after an application is received by the immigration normally takes about six months to one year. Foreigners who have submitted their applications will also be interviewed by an immigration officer to assess their Thai proficiency. Once the result of the application is available, they are then communicated to the foreigner at the end of such period.
Seeking Legal Help
To many foreigners, acquiring a Thai Residence Permit is like a confusing, bureaucratic roller-coaster ride due to the complexity of the process. Therefore, it is recommended to consider getting help from a lawyer who has vast knowledge on this matter. A legal assistance from a lawyer is not something that is required. However, a lawyer could ease worries and hassle by saving some running around during the application process. They can ensure that all documents are correct and translations are properly handled.
Travelling to Thailand initially on a tourist visaHolders of tourist visa may be able to apply for a different visa type in Thailand; thus, giving them the ability to extend their stay for up to one year at a time without the hassle of flying to another country. However, their purpose and reason for wanting to stay must fall within what is permitted by the Thai government and should also meet certain requirements. Below are two of the most common scenarios when a foreigner is able to do the visa application inside Thailand.
Retirement VisaWhile most of the retirees who flock to Thailand have already begun the visa processing before they even leave their country, still many of them choose to travel on a tourist visa. They are able to apply for a non-immigrant O visa when they meet the following criteria:
- Applicant must be 50 years of age or over.
- Applicant must have a personal deposit of at least THB 800,000 in a local Thai bank. The money must be secured in the account for already two months before he can file for the non-immigrant O visa application.
Marriage with a Thai NationalForeigners whose marriage with their Thai spouse has been successfully registered may also apply for the non-immigrant O visa inside Thailand. The qualifications are pretty much the same as with the visa extension based on retirement.
- Applicant must be legally married to a Thai national.
- Applicant must have a personal deposit of at least THB 400,000 in a local Thai bank. The money must be secured in the account for already two months before he can file for the Non-immigrant O visa application.
Many foreigners enter Thailand for short business trips for a few days whether for the purpose of negotiating an agreement, to attend or to be a speaker at a conference, to provide technical support, or to source a local supplier, unaware that the purpose of their visit requires a work permit in accordance with Thai law.
The Thai Labor law definition of “work" is very broad that it almost cover all of the activities by foreigners in Thailand doing business or work-related. Work is defined as any activity whereby one exerts energy or uses knowledge. Whether or not this business or work-related activity is in consideration for wages or other benefits, temporarily or permanently, is deemed as work under the law.
Applying for a proper work permit is not suitable for people who comes to Thailand for short business trips. The normal work permits are valid for three, six or 12 months. However, the Alien Working Act contains a provision that allows foreigners intending to stay in the Kingdom for a short period of time to notify the necessity and urgency of their work to the Department of Employment instead of applying for an ordinary work permit.
The advantage of this notification is that it is very quick to process. It will take a day or few days to process with a fee of 800 baht. The requirement is much lesser than the normal work permit. It only requires a non-immigrant business visa, letter from the Thai trading partner and the company registration. The medical certificate, required registered capitalization and number of Thai employees won't be required for the application.
This option is only available to those who come to perform “necessary and urgent” work-related activities. Furthermore the foreign person will be allowed to stay to perform such activity or work up to 15 days per entry only, inclusive of weekends and public holidays.
It seems a lot of trouble to do this for a short visit, but the law enforcement has become more strict against foreigners who work without a work permit. This has been closely monitored by authorities so it is better to be on the safe side.
To apply for a work permit in Thailand, please check this page.
Over the last couple of years, Thai immigration rules have been the recurrent content of many news site and different forums in Thailand. Every bit of discussion boiling down to one thing - changes in the Thai immigration rules. Truth is, we cannot expect rules and policies to be the same years after years. And this rings true even before the military took over the Thai government in 2014. As it turned out, we’ve seen a lot of head-scratching, especially among foreigners who periodically travel in and out of Thailand.
Confusion over the process
Foreigners are notified of changes in Thai visa rules well in advance. The confusion comes over the subject of getting an extension inside Thailand. It is not uncommon for a foreigner to enter Thailand then make a decision to extend his stay for couple more weeks or months. They are then looking for options of what to do without leaving Thailand.
Given the inconsistency of Thai immigration policy, we can understand why many foreigners in Thailand are at a loss. This article aims to shed some light on questions frequently asked by those who call our office.
Options to stay inside Thailand on an extended duration
Clause 2 of Order No. 327/2557 of the Royal Thai Police (June 30, 2014) describes when a foreigner can apply for an extension by paying the fee of THB 1,900 at the immigration office in Thailand.
- Extensions for visa exempt scheme and tourist visa holders.
Nationals from countries who enter Thailand under a 30-day visa exemption can get an extension of another 30 days. This gives them the option to stay inside Thailand for up to 60 days in all without having to leave the country. Holders of Vietnamese and Laotian passports, however, can only get a 7 days extension. Note also that this option is not available to those who are on a visa-on-arrival.
Holders of a Thai tourist visa, on the other hand, can get an extension of 30 days, regardless of their nationality, by paying the extension fee at any immigration offices in Thailand.
- Extension for foreigners who are legally married to a Thai national
A foreigner of any nationality, for as long as he is legally married to a Thai citizen, can be granted for one time an extension of no more than 60 days. This is applicable in the case of a foreigner who entered Thailand on a tourist visa or a 30-day visa exempt stamp.
- Visa extension for up to one year
A foreigner can extend his visa every year and with validity of extension for up to one year under circumstances when he meets the criteria for consideration. This option is offered to those who have recently been granted a non-Immigrant visa and are in the cases under any of the categories below:
- Business owners or investors
- Employees of Thai companies
- Spouses of a Thai citizen
- Conductors of training or research in a university or research institute
- Family members of a Thai citizen or an alien who are permitted a temporary stay in Thailand
Another concern is the subject of filing for a change of visa. This can be tricky since regulations are not the same for all immigration offices. There are also only few circumstances when an application for change of visa can be done without having to leave Thailand. While anyone can take the risk of doing the process on their own, it is advised to seek help from firms who understand the process and ensure that the application is properly prepared and filed.
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