The Sunday morning meeting of the PCEC on January 6, was packed to the proverbial gills with an almost record attendance of 152 souls. The regulars as well as many extras were there to calm the jitters of long timers when it was recently announced that the big three (American, British and Australian) embassies in Bangkok were no longer going to issue income letters required by Thai Immigration as proof of meeting the 65,000 baht monthly requirement for income. Many of those present were depending on long time visa consultant Darren McGarry of Key Visa to shed some well desired light on the subject. He did…sort of.
Without the aid of slides or a power point presentation but toting a fist full of notes, Darren began his highly anticipated oration. Darren mentioned in passing the many (over 14) years of experience in the visa field, his numerous daily trips to immigration and the long laundry list of visa problems that those at Key Visa have solved over the years. Since he knew many had questions, Darren agreed that the meeting would be primarily in a question/answer format. But also, aware that most of the questions would be about the new requirements for proving income, Darren elected to give a short informative up front talk about what he did know on the subject. Darren asked that what was revealed in the room stay there since the subject was a sensitive one.
He began with some new rules on entering Thailand with tourist visas and mentioned that entering 4 times in a year is now enough says the government on 30 day Visa exempt entries and only 2 when crossing at land borders. Most of the immigration crackdown is on younger (under 40) visitors. Since they don’t meet the requirement for long term stays, the government is somewhat curious as to the reasons for their multiple visits. Generally speaking the government looks favourably on long term residents and if you meet the 800,000 baht in a Thai bank requirement (it must be there for at least 3 months prior to your visa renewal) you needn’t worry about the new income letter problems.
Darren shared what he thought was the driving force behind the income letter change. Immigration became aware of misleading reports of incomes on letters. As a result, they asked the various embassies to be more diligent in assessing their reported citizens’ incomes. The embassies balked at the responsibility that would put on them and decided not to give any letters at all. That was that!
As far as he had heard in a meeting of involved persons as late as last Friday (January 4th), no decision had been made concerning what documentation would be acceptable to immigration as proof of income. In the question and answer period to follow, one member said that the immigration website had posted that proof of 65,000 baht deposit per month in a Thai bank for at least a year was going to be the new requirement. Darren said that the meeting he was in Friday postdated the information that was being reported and at the meeting, it had not been decided what the standard would be.
Darren being on the leading edge of this area promised to bring news to the club as soon as it was available. Since he was quite thorough in his presentation, there were not that many questions from the members.
After the presentations, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and then turned it over to the Open Forum portion of the meeting where questions are asked and answered and comments made about Expat living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular. For more information about the PCEC and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.