The Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) welcomed back Darren McGarry, a British expat who manages Key Visa Co. Thailand, for round number 2 of his talk about the new visa (long stay extensions) rules that went into effect in the first quarter of 2019. During his previous presentation in January 2019, he advised that things were in flux and there were more rumors abounding than facts regarding requirements for Expats who could no longer obtain monthly income certifications for Thai Immigration. Also, since his January presentation, Thai Immigration issued new rules, effective March 1, 2019. These rules concerned changing the financial requirements for those extending their stay based on using a specified amount on deposit in a Thai bank (retirement and related to a Thai).
Darren, with many notes in hand, marched to the podium armed with those and reliance on his 15 years of experience dealing with Thai Immigration matters. His information was well received and almost everybody gleaned some new and vital insight into what the new rules require and how to meet them.
Before getting into the specific requirements, he made some general comments useful to the situation. For example, he said there are between 11 and 14 thousand expats here in Pattaya and many in his opinion worry too much based on the numerous panic calls he received when the new rules came out. He suggested that you should wait until the dust settles a bit before death throes appear. In addition, Darren commented about Immigration Officers’ views on the new rules, that they have complicated the process and resulted in more work for them.
He advised not to argue with immigration officials over their application of the new rules. If you encounter problems, he suggests you contact someone in the visa business, such as his company, to see if they can sort it as he feels almost every problem has a solution. He then proceeded to explain the new rules, primarily for extensions based on retirement, and what will be required to meet them.
There are three separate ways to qualify for a long-term extension’s financial requirements. The first he mentioned was the requirement for the retiree applicant to have 800,000 baht on deposit in a Thai bank. The new requirements for this method is (1) the money must be in the bank for two months before your application for extension date (not your last extension expiration date if you are renewing), (2) it must remain in the account for three months after the renewal, and (3) the letter from the bank confirming your account must be dated the day of your visit to immigration. He also said to be prepared to answer the additional question of ‘what do you live on?’ if you are one of those that keep this amount continually on deposit and the account shows no activity. He said to answer this question, you can show a bank book for an additional account which you use for living expenses or ATM slips showing your withdrawal of money from an overseas account.
The second, is for those that in lieu of having the 800,000 baht in a Thai bank, use the requirement that they have a retirement income of at least 65000 baht per month. Previously, this was satisfied by obtaining a letter from your embassy attesting to your monthly income. However, several major embassies no longer will issue such letters beginning the first of this year; these are the embassies for the USA, Britain, Australia and Denmark. So, he asked, what proof does immigration want to show you meet this requirement? If your embassy still issues such a letter, then that is the requirement. If they don’t, then you must show as many deposits in a Thai bank as you can for this year, 2019, but next year and after, it must be monthly for the preceding twelve months and be from a source outside of Thailand. This can be done by providing copies of your Thai bank account passbook pages and deposits of pension or other income into your foreign bank account. Darren suggested that the amounts transferred and deposited reflecting the required 65,000 baht per month be highlighted on the copies. In addition, he said you will most likely be asked to have a document that shows the source of your retirement funds. Darren said rental income is not an acceptable source as Thai Immigration considers it as not being a permanent monthly source of income.
The third method to qualify for the long term extension is a combination of the above, at least 400,000 baht in the bank and source documentation for the monthly income amount which, when combined, equate to at least 800,000 baht (bank balance plus monthly deposit times 12 months).
He also mentioned the validity of extensions based on marriage and business. They are good until they no longer apply…you get divorced or stop working. He warned that you should not go on using the extension until it expires thinking that it is the easy way. Once your status qualifying you for the extension expires, you will have 2 days to advise immigration and 7 days to qualify for another extension. If you continue to use the marriage/business extension after you no longer qualify for it, you will be in overstay status and overstays can mean expulsion from the country.
Despite all the rules, and harsh fines, Darren assured the crowd that the Thai government really does want us here. Play by the rules and staying should not be a problem. A plan B and/or C are usually available.
Because of the high interest in the topic, the presentation was followed by a lengthy question and answer session.
The meeting ended with the usual announcement of upcoming events and the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand. For more information about the Pattaya City Expats Club, visit their website at www.pcec.club.