I get asked a lot about how we managed all the minefield of paperwork and regulations to move to Thailand? We moved to Thailand on Single Entry Non-Immigrant O Visas with plans to get one year Extensions To Stay In The Kingdom based on Retirement at Chiang Mai Immigration during the last 30 days of the validity of the Single Entry Non-Immigrant O Visa. This is the O Visa, not the O-A Retirement Visa.
One of the questions we have been asked is how we filled out the Visa Application so that it would be approved.
Another of the most confusing and asked about questions I get are from people who want to know the In's and Out's of the Extension To Stay In The Kingdom based on Retirement. This is something that I have researched intensively for the last few years and now that we have gone through the process I am able to report it to you from a practical, operational standpoint.
There are a lot of misconceptions about getting a “Retirement Visa” in Thailand. First of all, you cannot get a retirement visa in Thailand. Retirement Visas (Non-Immigrant O-A visas) are only available from the Thai Embassy in your home country and the requirements to get it is more involved than if you come to Thailand on a Non-Immigrant O Visa and then get an “Extension To Stay In The Kingdom based on Retirement” in Thailand.
We came to Thailand on Single Entry Non-Immigration O visas with the reason being “research retirement options”.
Below is a sample of how to fill out the Visa Application. We filled ours out, went to the Portland Thai Consulate with our Passports, turned in our application and $80 fee, and walked out the door 15 minutes later with our visas. You can do this by mail if you aren't able to go to a consulate. Just allow a little more time to have it processed and returned to you. It was really that simple. Be sure to check your consulate's website to find out if they require anything else to process the application.
If you don't know what your arrival date, departure date, your proposed address in Thailand, or a Thai phone number you can leave those fields blank and it won't be held against you.
In the last 30 days of the validity (permitted to stay date) of the Non-Immigrant O Visa you can apply for the One Year Extension To Stay In The Kingdom based on Retirement. To do this you need to go to the Immigration Office and submit the required paperwork and pay 1900 Baht fee. It is recommended to fill in and sign all the paperwork that needs to be submitted BEFORE you go. It will save you a lot of time and possible headaches.
We headed to Chiangmai Immigration office early since we weren't able to sign up online for an appointment. They have an online system that you can sign up 100 days in advance for an appointment. Unfortunately, we weren't able to sign up as all the appointments were already taken so we had to join the masses in arriving early to get a number and wait our turn.
We arrived at 6:15 am and the lineup was already out into the parking lot. At 6:45 they started handing out Queue Number Cards. We were numbers 46 and 47. This first card is the card you get to go inside, wait for your number to be called, show them your passport and paperwork you need to process, and then are given another number (depending on what you're there for) for the queue for that service.
We got 226 and 227 and were told to come back at 1:00 pm. Of the 45 people in front of us 25 of them were needing to go to the same window as us. So we had the rest of the morning to take it easy and do something else. It was very nice of them to let us know what time they expect us to be called. We planned that this might end up being an all day event so “mai bpen rai”. Next year we will be able to use the online appointment website and schedule our appointment and avoid having to show up so early to get a number.
We returned just before 1:00 pm. They started the afternoon with number 218 and it took them about an hour to get to us. Each extension to stay was taking about 15 minutes to be processed and then about 45 minutes to get the passport back from the back office.
We had all our paperwork in order and ours went quickly and we had our passports back by 2:30. While waiting for our passports I got a couple numbers so that we could try and get our Re-entry permits done today. It took about 2 hours to get that completed because that window was also processing Tourist Visa extensions. With the crackdown on In/Out visa runs there were a lot of folks trying to get things legal. But we got our Re-entry permits also.
The following supporting documents will be needed for all extension to stay requests made at Immigration:
1. Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom, TM.7 – one original. If you print out the application be sure to print it double sided. On the back page include your phone number under your signature. It doesn't say so anywhere but they will ask you for it if it's not there.
2. One color photograph less than 6 months old– 4cm x 6 cm
3. Your Passport with at least 6 months remaining validity
4. One Photocopy of the following passport pages:
Identity page showing the passport holder’s picture, name, and date issued, etc.
Page showing the Non-Immigrant Visa
Page(s) showing each subsequent one year extension, if applicable
Page showing the last entry stamp into Thailand
Photocopy of Departure Card, TM.6 (this card is usually stapled in your passport upon arrival)
Each photocopy needs to have your original signature on it – in Thailand, this is deemed
to be your certification that it is a true copy of the original.
You will also need to prove, with documentation, that you have enough income to meet the requirements to be granted an Extension to Stay. There are three ways to qualify financially.
- Verifiable income of 65,000 Baht per month from sources outside of Thailand. (You are forbidden to work here if you are on a retirement visa or a retirement based extension to stay.)
- 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank account, in your name only. It must be seasoned (no less than 2 months on the first application and no less than 3 months on subsequent applications) You need a letter of deposit from the bank (that day, if possible) and a copy of your bank book with the balance matching the balance in the letter from the bank. By seasoning they mean that the balance in the Thai bank account cannot go below 800,000 Baht during the seasoning period.
- A combination of monthly income plus Thai Baht in a Thai bank account totaling 800,000 Baht per year. The actual regulations do not require the Thai Baht to be seasoned for any amount of time using this option. However, some Immigration Offices require it to be seasoned the same as in the second option. Call your Immigration Office to make sure what their requirements are. You don't want any surprises when you apply for your extension to stay.
As Americans, our income is verified by a notarized sworn affidavit from the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. Since we are both qualifying for our extensions to stay using the income only option we went to the Consulate about a week before we went to Immigration to apply for the extension to stay. You have to make an appointment online for your visit to the US Consulate to process the paperwork. It took us 13 minutes from the time we entered the building until we left. The cost for the notarized document was 1650 baht each. Approximately $50 USD.
Other documents you might be asked for and would be wise to have with you just in case. Do not offer them but have them available if the immigration officer asks for them.
- Rental contract for your place of residence.
- Rent receipts
- Google map with location marked of your place of residence
- Any supporting documentation of income and/or banking
- Marriage license
Here is a sample of how to fill out the TM7 form, Application For Extension Of Temporary Stay In The Kingdom.
Here is a sample of how to fill out the Income Verification form that you get from the US Consulate.
Would you like to know how Immigration calculates the exchange rate when determining how much your income is in Thai baht? It is based on the Bangkok Bank exchange rate on the day you apply at immigration. Use the “Notes” rate for USD50-100