NOT only is the process of applying for a Thai residence permit heavily wrapped in red tape it seems only around a hundred are granted each year, Samart Swatdipocha, a lawyer and owner of Samart Law Company said recently.
Long is the queue of applicants for this much-sought-after permit and in fact people generally book a place in the queue.
While there is no age restriction, Mr Samart mentioned that among the conditions to obtain this permit are the ability to speak Thai, sing the Thai national anthem, having paid taxes and lived in Thailand for at least 10 years and having a bank deposit here.
Although the amount of money an applicant has does not influence the official decision, foreigners working here who wish to apply for this permit have to have minimum monthly salary of 100,000 baht.
“If they own a business or a company and pay taxes, it’s even better, it puts them ahead of other applicants.
“But there are lots of applicants – mostly Indians who have invested and are running a business here.”
However foreigners married to a Thai are allowed to live in this country and are given non-immigrant visa “O” which is renewable on annual basis.
“Foreign women married to Thai men are also able to get this visa.”
Mr Samart added that those who come to work or invest in a business here have to obtain non-immigrant visa “B.”
This visa is divided into three categories – general business, Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) and Board of Investment (BOI).
“Those working for a BOI-promoted company which is located at an industrial estate or are here to survey for petroleum and gas get this visa easily
“Actually BOI and IEAT categories are similar but the scope of granting visa is wider under BOI.
“It’s now a little difficult, they check documents in detail but previously they weren’t that stringent – they didn’t delve so deeply.
“Today if you go and apply for a work permit you will get the answer within seven days.
“But with visas it takes around two weeks because they have to check the papers.”
There is yet another visa which foreigners could apply for and this is a retirement visa but again there are certain conditions.
Mr Samart explained that those applying for this visa have to be at least 55 years old and have to have a bank deposit to show that they can support themselves with the minimum amount being 800,000 baht.
“Mostly Europeans and Americans get this visa and the majority live in Pattaya or Phuket.”
TOP: Foreigners stand in a queue to collect their passports stamped with a Thai visa outside the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Miran Rijavec (CC-BY-2.0)
INSET: Mr Samart says officials are a lot stricter now.
By Nina Suebsukcharoen