Thailand has been consistently ranked among the best countries to live in, whether it’s for business opportunities or for the glorious Thai food or for a generally lower cost of living. Many first-time tourists to the Kingdom of Thailand have harboured thoughts of settling down in the Land of Smiles, while expats who are looking for a better family lifestyle are often considering Thailand as their preferred destination.
Regardless of your motivations to live in Thailand, one thing is clear – as long as you are a foreigner, you will need a long stay visa to stay in the country for longer. But how do you get such a long stay visa in Thailand? In this guide, we will cover every type of long stay visa that you can possibly apply for, so that you can make your dream of living in Thailand become reality. But first, let us understand what a long stay visa constitutes.
Understanding Long Stay Visas in Thailand
When we are talking about a long stay visa, this refers to the Non-Immigrant Visa which comes in two variants:
After you arrive in the country with a a non-immigrant visa, you can then extend that visa based on specific requirements.
In case you are thinking that you can use a tourist visa (allows you to stay in Thailand up to 60 days) to keep renewing your stay here indefinitely, this is wrong. Your visa runs to neighbouring countries may be rejected, and you are also restricted from working in the country. That is why a long stay visa is always recommended when you want to remain in the country for longer periods of time.
However, based on your unique prerequisites, you may qualify for only a certain type of long stay visa so let’s take a look at the options you have available to you:
What You Need to Know
What you need to do first is to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa outside of Thailand and arrive in the country on that visa. Next, you will need to go to the Immigration Bureau to extend your visa based on retirement by showing proof of your qualifications, either proof of 800,000 THB in a Thai bank account for at least 60 days before you apply to extend your visa. Or a letter from your embassy confirming income of at least 65,000 THB.
One pointer to know is that the financial requirements for this visa type can also be met by a combination of monthly income and bank account funds. For example, if you have a pension income of 20,000THB monthly, you only need to show 600,000THB in order to satisfy the benchmarked amount of 800,000THB.
Also, when it comes to the bank account balance during retirement visa renewal, you will need to have that amount needed sitting in your account for at least 90 days before applying for a renewal – Find out more about retirement visas
What You Need to Know
You will need to arrive in the country with a Non-Immigrant Visa, and then show proof of your qualification documents at the Immigration Bureau to apply for a marriage visa. Some of the documents you need include your marriage certificate (original copy), Thai spouse’s identity card, as well as his or her Tabien Baan (house registration document). If your marriage certificate is issued by a country other than Thailand, then you will need to get it translated into Thai language.
For your financial documents, make sure that if your income comes from overseas, you need to get a verification letter from your embassy to support this claim. While some applicants have shared that having at least 400,000THB in the bank account balance will suffice, we have also heard stories that a monthly income of at least 40,000THB is the preferred qualifying requirement that the Immigration Bureau chooses to look at. For those who intend to work in Thailand, do note that you will need to apply for a Thai Work Permit to pursue employment in the Kingdom – Find out more about marriage visas
What You Need to Know
You can directly apply for a Non-Immigrant “B” Visa from a consulate outside of Thailand. In fact, you should arrive in the Kingdom with this visa, and the company that has sponsored or employed you should help you submit documents to the Labour Ministry to help you get a work permit. This can usually be completed within a few working weeks, helping you to start the process of applying for a 1 year extension of stay.
What You Need to Know
When we talk about educational institutions, it encompasses anything from an international school to a government school to a certified language centre. This education visa can either be applied from outside of Thailand or you can usually convert a tourist visa to an ED visa inside Thailand. The length of your stay will depend on the length of the educational course that you have enrolled in. Note that parents or guardians of young education visa holders in the country can apply for a Non-Immigrant “O” Visa for a long stay in Thailand on the pretext of looking after their wards.
What If You Don’t Fall into Any of the Categories?
Of course, even with the multiple types of long stay visas that are available, you may just happen to not fit into any of them. For example, you don’t intend to study or work in Thailand, and you do not want to get married to a Thai national, and you are not yet 50 years old. However, you want to stay over a long period of time in Thailand because you simply adore the living environment and lifestyle in the country. What can you do?
Well, there is no clear-cut answer in such a case, but there are certainly creative options that can work towards your dream of living in Thailand. For example, for those who are from affluent backgrounds, you can consider starting a business in Thailand but be prepared to pay monthly taxes and documentation charges, auditing fees, and more for your company.
Alternatively, there is the Elite Card that foreigners can apply for but it is notoriously expensive. It starts from 500,00THB for 5 years of membership validity, allowing you to get a 5-year multiple entry visa with an extendable 1 year of stay per entry. As you can see, this is not a cheap option!
When You Want a Long Stay Visa, Professional Advice is Your Best Bet
By now, you can see that applying for a long stay visa may involve more complexities that you would like to think. However, if you get the help of a Thai visa and expat services agency, you can find a great source of support and ensure expedition of any visa application procedure that you are making. Talk to us today if you are interested in applying for a long stay visa with the least amount of fuss!