Thai Immigration Clamps Down On Retirement Visas

There has long been controversy regarding the Retirement Visa here in Thailand with many feeling that the system has been abused to allow foreigners to stay in the Kingdom. Although most of the rules have not changed, it appears that the rules are now being more strictly enforced with additional regulations being put in place to try and stop people abusing the system. The move follows many embassies announcing that they will no longer issue ‘proof of income’ documents for the purpose of visa applications in the country.

The law has always been that foreigners must keep THB800,000 in a Thai bank account for two months prior to their application but that has now been extended to that this figure must be kept in the account for three months AFTER the retirement extension has been granted. This is a major shift and will undoubtedly cause many foreigners significant problems especially with the strength of the Thai Baht in comparison to many other currencies.

According to the popular expat forum Thaivisa, “Foreigners who apply for a retirement extension using the 800k baht in the bank, or the combination of income method, now need to keep 800k baht in the bank for three months after the extension and 400k baht in the bank after that.”

According to the official guidelines on the matter…

(1) Must have been granted a non-immigrant visa (Non-Im)

(2) Must be 50 years of age or over

(3)  Must have evidence of having income of no less than THB 65,000 or;

(4) At least 2 months prior to filing date, and at least 3 months after being granted permission, the alien must have fund deposited in a bank in Thailand of no less than THB 800,000. The alien can withdraw the fund 3 months after being granted permission and the remaining balance must be no less than THB 400,00 or;

(5) Must have and annual earning and fund deposited with a commercial bank in Thailand totalling of no less than THB 800,000 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 400k baht in the bank for three months after the retirement visa is granted is effective from 1st March  2019.

The general consensus behind the move is that previously some visa agents had falsified bank statement for their clients’ to show sums that, in reality, they didn’t have. It seems quite apparent that Thai Immigration will be seeking to bring an end to this practice and ensure that those looking for long-term visas in the Kingdom do so legally and that they have the required funds legitimately in order to get the visa extension.

The move seems to reinforce the statement made by immigration chief Surachate Hakparn last October that he would be seeking to heavily crack down on any illegal practices and the falsifying of documents would not be tolerated in any shape or form. However, it should be stressed that he also said that Immigration officers should be ‘lenient’ at least in the interim when it came to income requirements but he also stated that this would only be the case for 2019.

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