I represent a number of long term (and some new) Elite visa holders who are trying to get back into Thailand. It was announced in August that Elite members were now able to enter Thailand. I also note your article on 25th September saying that the rejigged Elite card is seen as a key tool to promote the country as an oasis for the wealthy. However, the reality is very few of us have been able to come home, and Elite are unable to tell us why.
We were sold the Elite visa as an ‘easy way’ to stay long term in Thailand. We were promised that we have special rights and are welcome in Thailand as people who have invested money and time to be there. The Elite visa is still being touted as an easy way to live – and maybe even work (potential new rules) – in Thailand.
The problem is, since we were told we could enter in August, very few of us have been able to do so. As supposed ‘elite’ visa holders we are subject to individual MFA approval, and so far, less than 50 members have been approved to enter. The English briefings from the Thai Government on Facebook used to show that when the country reached Stage 6, Elite holders will be allowed in. Suddenly this wording disappeared from all their communications. Why is this? Here is a link to the post:
Many members applied on 19 August and are still waiting for MFA approval. In the meantime, those with work permits, marriage visa, etc., can apply directly to their embassies without the need for MFA approval. And now the government announces that retirees can enter also. They only need to give seven days’ notice and are not subject to MFA approval.
How does this make us ‘elite’? How do we get value for our investment? Many of us have properties, families and our entire livelihoods in Thailand. Some members have animals that have no one to take care of them and houses that are being burgled while they sit empty.
When we speak to Elite we are given a different story every time. And no one can answer why we need MFA approval and others don’t. One Elite staff member said the process is taking a long time because the MFA uses Teletext to communicate with the local embassies. It has also been intimated that MFA do not like the Elite scheme as it was a Thaksin initiative. Surely we are not being penalised for this? Especially when their membership has at least doubled since the pandemic.
The process changes – I was told that I needed to give two weeks notice, then one month, then two months. I was told to just send a form and Elite will book the hotels, arrange the approval and then we speak to the embassy about a flight. Now we’re told to book a flight and reapply – but to book that flight for at least one month in advance. All the while other visa holders seem to enter the country with ease. And the first bunch of long stay tourists are landing in Phuket within the week.
How can the Thai Government justify treating Elite members this way? Many members are pulling their investments out of the country and going where they are welcome. How does this sit with a government who says they want to attract high end, high paying customers?
Most members are too scared to speak up publicly as they fear being penalised by the MFA and other government agencies. We just want to get home to our friends, families and lives. We would appreciate any publicity you can give this matter. We will take this to the international press if need be, because the reality of Elite membership is not what is being sold.
Disgruntled Elite Members from around the world