Many people who live in Thailand do so on a Retirement Visa and do so quite comfortably enjoying everything that the country has to offer. Fortunately, many of these people can easily meet the financial requirements of the visa and the need to have 800,000 Thai Baht in a Thai bank account, or sufficient income, or a combination of both. However, many struggle to keep this amount continually in their accounts and use it as ‘emergency money’ topping it back up when they are about to renew their visa. It is this group that will be hit hardest by the new changes to the rules.
Over the last 6 months or so, many embassies have decided against issuing a ‘proof of income’ certificate that many people relied upon for being granted their visa. As we mentioned above, the law has and remains that you must have 800,000 Thai Baht or the income equivalent for 2 months prior to the application. The problem that many people now face is that this balance now needs to be retained for 3 months AFTER visa extension has been granted. As you can imagine, this has provoked an outcry on some of the popular expat forums.
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To clarify the rules according to Thai Visa who have the information from a reliable source, “Foreigners who apply for a retirement extension using the 800k baht in the bank, or the combination of income method, now need to keep 800k baht in the bank for three months after the extension and 400k baht in the bank after that.”
According to the official guidelines on the matter…
- Must have been granted a non-immigrant visa (Non-Im)
- Must be 50 years of age or over
- Must have evidence of having income of no less than THB 65,000 or;
- At least 2 months prior to filing date, and at least 3 months after being granted permission, the alien must have fund deposited in a bank in Thailand of no less than THB 800,000. The alien can withdraw the fund 3 months after being granted permission and the remaining balance must be no less than THB 400,00 or;
- Must have and annual earning and fund deposited with a commercial bank in Thailand totalling of no less than THB 800,000 until the filing date. The said fund must remain in the account prior to and after the permission is granted and the alien can make a withdrawal under the same conditions as stated in (4).
The new requirements to keep 400k baht in the bank for three months after the retirement visa is granted is effective from 1st March 2019.
The reasons behind the move are naturally being speculated but many put the move down to a clampdown on disreputable visa companies who had been putting the money in the clients’ bank accounts. It is perhaps people who rely on this to be granted a visa who will be most severely affected. Obviously, the move is to encourage people to obtain a visa legitimately rather than abusing loopholes but with the current strength of the Thai Baht against many other currencies, this is the only option for many retired people.
Although there is expected to be leniency in the first 12 months it appears unlikely that this will last for any longer. In reality, this means that everyone will soon be forced to meet the requirements legally or being forced to leave the country where they live.
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