The Thai government has in principle approved a new 10-year visa on Tuesday which will “soon” be available to well-to-do foreigners over 50.
According to a government spokesman, the new visa type will come in two installments of five years each. While it appears that visa holders won’t have to leave the country and do “border runs” for a decade they will still have to report to their local immigration office every 90 days.
It was not immediately clear either when the new 10-year visa would become available.
While that all sounds very appealing there is obviously more than one catch. First, the new 10-year visa will be available exclusively to applicants aged 50 years or older. So it is not an alternative for would-be long-stayers who haven’t reached the age of 50 yet.
Second, the financial requirements for applicants are pretty strict. Not only will the visa fee be reportedly 10,000 Baht (this is actually very good value for money, given that the visa will be good for 10 years), Khaosod English report that
Applicants must either earn a monthly salary of at least 100,000 baht or have more than 3 million baht in their bank account, which cannot be withdrawn within the first year after receiving the visa.
They must also have health insurance that covers hospital stays and provides at least USD$10,000 in annual coverage. [Reason for this may be that the new visa is primarily “intended to promote Thailand as a hub for medical services.”]
We repeat: A monthly income of 100,000 Baht or 3 million Baht in the bank that cannot be withdrawn for a year (effectively ruling out the option to have a “visa agent” help you out for a day or two.)
Given that applicants need an income of “only” 65,000 Baht per month or 800,000 Baht in their bank account in order to apply for the currently available one-year “retirement visa” (and we know that many pensioners are struggling to scrape that amount of money together each year), the average Joe will hardly be able to fulfill the requirements for the new visa.
Sure enough, there are loads of wealthy expats living in Thailand who have much more than that in their bank accounts – and these are the kind of long-stayers the kingdom is actively trying to lure. Then again, such strict requirements hardly make the new visa a viable option for the masses.
What is more, the government spokesman also said that the new 10-year visa would “replace one-year renewable visas.” We take it that refers to the currently available Non-Immigrant visa type “O-A”.
So the question is: Will the one-year retirement visa – the financial requirements for which are relatively strict anyway – get abolished once the new 10-year “visa for the rich” becomes available? Or will the new visa just be an alternative option? We would obviously hope the answer is the latter.
UPDATE (December 1) – As it appears from this thread on the Thai Visa forum, the new 10-year visa will be an additional visa option and not replace any of the existing long-stay visa or extensions of stay. These would be good news for many expats over 50 who are not exactly millionaires.
On the downside, it seems, those who qualify for the 10-year visa will only have somewhat limited access to their 3 million Baht on the bank even after their first year of stay in Thailand.
Then again, at the moment this is all just guesswork and no real official info has been made available yet.
UPDATE (January 17) – According to Pattaya One, the new visa will be available exclusively for visitors from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.