I have written about common questions I get from friends and family about living in Thailand before, and so I thought I would share another one with you today. A relatively new internet friend from my home state of Alabama and co-host of the The Royal Pains recently emailed to ask me about the difficulty in gaining permanent residency here in Thailand, and also wanted to know if the process was expensive. So, I was trying to think of the best way to respond to his email and thus, I’m going to write about visas and residency for you here today.
Technically, you will need to have already possessed a on-immigrant Visa for 3 consecutive years before you are allowed to start the process to apply for residency status. Immigration only accept applications for residency during a very small window of time in December( I think). Furthermore, they only accept 100 applicants per passport nationality each year, so if say in my case, if enough Americans applied before me then I would be denied. The cost just for the paper work, taking into account you do get the permit, is around 7 thousand dollars. However, I will share with you that I’ve only met one person in my 5 years here that has a residency permit, and it took her 30 plus years of being married to a Thai husband and raising 3 grown children.
So, you might be thinking, what are my other options then? If your heart is still set on residing in Thailand then there are several different types of visa you can consider. I live and work here on a non-immigrant B visa and hold a work permit which allows me to be employed here in the kingdom and of course pay Thai income tax. Educators can hold a renewable 1 year working visa, connected to your work permit from the ministry of labor, and a Thai teacher’s license from the ministry of Education. There are mounds and mounds of paperwork that goes in to be submitted for each bit of paper needed and most schools employ a staff member who has the job of ‘only’ dealing with paperwork issues such as these. I once tried to get a visa extension myself when i changed jobs, and the monstrously overweight lady cop in her tight brown uniform went out of her way to make me feel like a juvenile delinquent for not having my correct mound of documents. I even cried that day sitting in the office in front of her.
There are other types of visas that can be obtained for living here long term, but It would be better to visit a website called ThaiVisa to read up on your options. I always visit daily to interact with other foreigners in Thailand covering a wide range of expat issues like visa stuff, so if your interested please have a look. The site has descriptions of the full range of visas, costs, trials and tribulations involved in living here on a permanent basis. It is good to visit the message board on the site as well because the rules and regulations surrounding visas and residency can and do change regularly so it is good to keep abreast by checking the message board. I say this because, as I’ve written before in my blog, Thailand has gone through between 17 and 20 coups to over throw a current sitting government, with the most recent having been last year. So depending on who has their hand in the cookie jar at the time, rules and regulations governing the lives of Thailand’s foreign residents are always subject to change. Some Thai leaders support and encourage the broadening of ideas through globalization, while others are distinctly nationalistic and borderline xenophobic. However, it can be argued thus that this is the constantly changing face of government in any country around the world. I sincerely hope that this helps to ease your curiosity, and please feel free to contact me for any information in this regards you might think of because if i don’t know the answer, then I’ll try my best to help you find it elsewhere. Happy Tuesday to all my readers where ever this finds you!