Thailand Visas Explained
Possibly the biggest challenge faced by anyone who is considering Thailand as an expat destination, lays in the fact that the Thai government seem to be making it very difficult for non-Thai people to spend extended periods of time within the borders of Thailand. Currently the longest duration visa which can be obtained runs for a 12 month periods, and require the holder to leave the country once every 90 days. Due to this strange setup, a cottage industry has grown up around the whole concept of the 'visa run', where people are ferried to the closest border, hop across and then return straight back in to Thailand again every 90 days. Below is a description of each of the types of visa available to people who wish to enter Thailand.
Non-immigrant type 'O' visa
A non-immigrant type 'O' visa is available as either a single entry, 90 day duration visa, or a multiple entry, 12 month duration visa. The single entry version allows the visitor to spend a maximum of 90 days within Thailand, although this can be extended by an additional 30 days by visiting an immigration office.
The 12 month duration visa allows the person to leave and re-enter Thailand an unlimited amount of times within the 12 month period. Every time the holder enters Thailand they will receive a stamp in their passport allowing them 90 continues days stay in the country. This 90 day stamp can be extended for an additional 30 days by visiting an immigration office. Once the length of stay is up, the holder will have to leave Thailand, although it is usual that people will cross the closest border, and turn right around and reenter Thailand several minutes later, receiving a fresh 90 day stamp. It should be noted that although the visa is of 12 month duration, if the visa holder enters Thailand a day before the visa expires, they will still receive a 90 day stamp, meaning the 12 month visa is actually good for almost 15 months.
Non-immigrant type 'B' visa
A non-immigrant type 'B' visa works in exactly the same way as a non-immigrant type 'O' visa with one exception. The type B donates it as a business visa, and those who wish to work in Thailand will need this type B visa as a perquisite to obtaining a work permit.
A tourist visa, as the name suggests, is used to denote a visa that has been issued for purely vacation purposes. A tourist visa can be issued as a single entry visa, allowing a continuous stay of 60 days in Thailand, or a double entry visa which allows for 2 entries into the country, each of 60 days duration. Each 60 day stamp can be extended by a further 30 days by visiting an immigration office.
Visa Exempt Stamp
A visa exempt stamp will be given to any person entering Thailand, whose nationality is on the list of allowable countries, when they enter Thailand through a land border, sea port or airport. There is no visa requirement for this stamp. If entering through a sea port or airport, the visitor will be granted 30 days continuous stay in Thailand, which can be extended by a further 7 days by visiting an immigration office. If entering through a land border, the visitor will only be granted 14 days continuous stay in Thailand, which again can be extended by 7 days by visiting an immigration office.
Extension of Non-immigrant Visas
There are 4 reasons why a non-immigrant visa, either a type 'B' or a type 'O' may be extended for a further 12 months, and these are described below.
Extension Based on Marriage
For holders of a non-immigrant type 'O' multi-entry visa, who is married to a Thai national, it is possible to extend the visa annually. However, there is a condition that the visa holder can show proof of either 400,000 Baht having been on a Thai bank account for a period of 3 months prior to the application for extension, or show proof that they have an independent income, being deposited in to a Thai bank account of at least 40,000 Baht per month.
Extension Based on Retirement
For holders of a non-immigrant type 'O' visa, who obtained it for retirement purposes and are over the age of 50, then it is possible to extend the visa annually. There is however a condition. The applicant must be able to show a sum of 800,000 Baht, which has been deposited in to a Thai, for a period of at least three months before the application for visa extension, or they must prove that they have an independent income of at least 80,000 Baht per month being transferred in to a Thai bank account
Extension Based on Support of a Dependant
For holders of a non-immigrant type 'O' visa, who support a Thai national dependant (child), then it is possible to extend the visa annually. However, conditions do apply. Firstly, the applicant needs to be named on the birth certificate of the child. Secondly, with the applicant, the second parent, or a combination of both parties, must be able to show a sum of 400,000 in a Thai bank, deposited 3 months prior to applying for the extension, or be able to prove either an individual or joint income of 40,000 Baht per month.
Extension Based on Work
Holders of a non-immigrant 'B' visa can extend the visa annually, as long as they remain employed in the job they have had their work permit issued for. A change in jobs will require the application to obtain an entirely new visa and work permit.
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