Prior to 21 October 1998, retired/elderly foreigners could apply for a one-year extension of stay in Thailand under one of two categories:

 

Persons aged 60 years and over could apply for a one-year extension of stay in Thailand if they had a pension or income amounting to at least of 20,000 baht per month, or bank deposit(s) amounting to a minimum of 200,000 baht in cash;

Persons aged 55 years and over could apply for a one-year extension of stay in Thailand if they had a pension or income amounting to at least of 50,000 baht per month, or bank deposit(s) amounting to a minimum of 500,000 baht in cash.

Cabinet approved on 8 September 1998 of a proposal to make it more convenient for retirees/elderly persons aged over 55 years to apply for one-year visas to stay in Thailand.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Immigration Bureau does not understand the message, as it subsequently issued Regulation No.206/2541, dated 21 October 1998, with the long-winded title, “Definition of qualifications and conditions including procedures of practice in the case of the elderly who wish to apply for one-year visas to enter and stay in Thailand” , which requires such applicants to have much higher monthly incomes (e.g., pensions) or bank accounts than was previously the case.

In summary, the above regulation states that:

“Because the Cabinet Resolution approves giving convenience to the elderly aged not less than 55 years who wish to apply for one-year visas to enter and stay in Thailand, in accordance with urgent letter No. 917/2541 from the Police Department, dated 17 September 1998, evidence of a fixed amount of money must be provided when applying for a one-year visa. Thus, the Immigration Bureau has ordered officers in command to proceed as follows:

A foreigner must show evidence that he/she has income amounting to at least 65,000 baht per month or a bank account amounting to at least of 800,000 baht in cash when initially applying for a one-year visa;

In the case of applications for one-year extensions of stay, or applications to change Tourist Visas or Transit Visas to Non-Immigrant Visas, evidence must be provided by each applicant that he/she has income or bank deposit in the same amounts as indicated in category 1 above.

Note:

As of 21 October 1998, Immigration Bureau Regulation No. 206/2541 described above cancelled the two categories for retirees/elderly applicants, (i) aged 60 years and above, and (ii) 55 years and over, with the exception of those retirees/elderly persons who have stayed continuously in Thailand from before that date;

Any retiree/elderly person applying for an extension of stay, but who has remained in Thailand continuously since 21 October 1998 or earlier, will only be required to show evidence of monthly income/bank deposit(s) under the earlier regulation (i.e., 20,000/200,000 baht – 60 years and over, and 50,000/500,000 baht – 55 years or older). However, if any applicant left Thailand at any time after 21 October 1998 without getting a re-entry permit from the Immigration Bureau, that departure constitutes a break in stay and his/her application will be treated as a new one. Therefore, they will be required to show evidence of monthly income/bank deposit(s) under the new regulation (i.e., 65,000/800,000 baht).

In fact, an application for an extension of stay in Thailand is not an application for a visa to enter Thailand. Also, an application made for a visa at a Thai Embassy/Consulate is not an application for an extension of stay in Thailand.

By approving a proposal to make it easier and more convenient for retirees/elderly people to apply for visas to stay in Thailand, the Cabinet raised the hopes of those who want to live/retire in Thailand.

Therefore, Cabinet should require the Police Department and Immigration Bureau to rescind the new ruling on financial requirements for applicants. The new ruling is made even more remarkable when compared to applications for residence permits, for which a monthly income of only 30,000 baht is required. Hopefully, the government will correct this situation to the benefit of elderly visitors. But don’t hold your breath!

Source: Skonchai & Oliver Law Consultancy Co., Ltd. For more details, visit www.visathailand.com or email Supat Skonchai at supat@visathailand.com