If you’re legally married to a Thai citizen you can apply for a one-year Non-immigrant visa “O” (based on marriage), often wrongly referred to as “marriage visa” (while it is actually an “extension of stay based on marriage”).
To qualify for this type of visa, your marriage needs to be officially registered in Thailand; a mere ceremonial marriage at a temple or a “common law” marriage is not recognized by the Thai government or family courts.
Initially, you will have to apply for this type of visa at a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad, preferably in your home country. Either single-entry visa (2,000 Baht) or multiple-entry visa (5,000 Baht) are available. (The latter may however not be available from honorary consulates.)
Upon entry into the kingdom, visa holders will receive a permission to stay in Thailand for initially 90 days. Multiple-entry visa holders may then do a “border run” to be granted another 90-day permission of stay.
If you meet the financial requirements, a single-entry Non-immigrant “O” visa can subsequently be extended to a maximum of a full year at a local immigration office and may afterwards be renewed inside Thailand every year. No visa runs are required; visa holders only need to report to a local immigration office every 90 days.
Alternatively, if you’re in Thailand already, for example, on a tourist visa, but have a Thai spouse and meet the financial requirements for a one-year extension, you can apply for a conversion to a 90-day Non-Immigrant “O” visa at the central immigration office in Bangkok, and subsequently apply for a one-year extension.
If you wish to apply for a multiple-entry Non-Immigrant “O” visa (based on marriage) in the SEA region, your best bet is a visa run to Savannakhet in Laos. (Note: No proof of income or money on a Thai bank account is required for holders of a multiple-entry visa unless they intend to extend their stay to a full year.)
And here’s a little known add-on: Foreigners married to a Thai citizen can also get a work permit and work with a “marriage visa” or extension of stay based upon marriage. No additional business visa is required but a work permit is still a sine qua non condition.
In order to qualify for the one-year extension, you’ll have to meet the financial requirements and either
- show a minimum deposit of 400,000 Baht on a Thai bank account for at least two months prior to the extension, or
- produce proof of a monthly income of at least 40,000 Baht (a letter from the applicant’s embassy has to be shown to verify this income).
Alternatively, a combination of money deposited on a Thai bank account and proof of a monthly income that equals a total of 400,000 Baht per year in total is also possible.
It’s only little transparent how applications for single-entry visa (can be extended to a full one-year stay locally each year) are proceeded in the South-East Asian region.
While some Thai consulates may reportedly be satisfied with either a bank deposit of 400,000 Baht or the submission of an income letter stating a minimum income of 40,000 Baht per month, others might require both in order to issue your desired visa.
To make sure you’ve got the correct documents needed in your case, please consult your nearest Thai embassy or consulate in advance.
The basic documents required for a successful “marriage visa” application and the subsequent extension to a full one-year permission of stay include your marriage certificate, child’s birth certificate (if any) and “positive evidence” (bank statement) of a 400,000-Baht deposit in a Thai bank, respectively proof of income (income letter).
Please note that you’ll actually have to live with your spouse (and be able to prove this) and must keep the 400,000 Baht on your account until the full one-year length of your “marriage visa” is being granted after 90 days.
Documents required for the visa extension may include the wife’s house registration and ID card, pictures of the house and family, as well as a recording interviewing the husband (visa applicant) and his Thai spouse to confirm their status of husband and wife.
As Thai Immigration law, on paper, requires the proof of a family income, it had become a popular option for less wealthy foreign partners of Thai spouses to apply for a Non-Immigrant visa “O” on the grounds that they’re being supported by their spouse provided he/she has a sufficient monthly income and can proof this by submission of tax statements.
It appears that in November 2008, however, Thai Immigration have changed the rules yet again and the minimum income of 40,000 Baht per month, or the 400,000-Baht deposit on a local bank account, must be the husband’s.
From Police order 777/2551: In case of marriage with a Thai woman, the husband who is an alien must have an average annual income of not less than 40,000 Baht per month or a money deposit in a local Thai bank of not less than 400,000 Baht …
An alternative type of a Non-Immigrant “O” visa (a so-called “dependant” visa) is available to foreigners married to holders of a Non-Immigrant visa of either type, or their unmarried children under the age of 20, and foreigners who have children with a Thai citizen. Among other documents, applicants will have to submit their (original) birth or marriage certificate respectively.
To find Thai embassies and consulates worldwide, please visit www.thaiembassy.org (official website). For further details, you’re advised to also visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For up-to-date visa information or forum discussions of visa-related issues, please have a look at the Thai Visa Expat Forum. To find legal advisors or law firms that can help you with the application process, please also check the links on our Business in Pattaya page.