Staying legally in Thailand 2018

This is about staying legally in Thailand. I love living in Thailand, it feels like my home. But although I am now living here more as 16 years, I still not have (and probably never will have) a permanent residence status or Thai passport. So that means that every year I will have to apply for an new Visa or Extension of Stay. Last year I did apply for an Extension of Stay based on retirement and that was a piece of cake. So I was not expecting much of a problem this year. But with a little bit of help from my embassy everything is possible ...

What is an "Extension of Stay"?
Originally I entered Thailand with an Non-Immigrant visa, that permitted me to stay in Thailand until a certain date. Just before that date I did go to the immigration office of the area where I was living in Thailand and applied for an Extension of Stay (EOS). How long you can extend your stay depends on the kind of visa you originally had and for what reason you apply for it. My last EOS was based on retirement. This kind of EOS can be fully approved by the local Immigration office. So I did apply and get the EOS the same day.

Disclaimer
This Is Thailand, so the fact that I did get my EOS the way I tell does not guaranty that I (or you) will get it in the same way at another day or at another immigration office.

What happened?
As my current EOS would end at 31 May and I planned to apply for a new EOS at 15 May. As you need proof of income for an EOS in begin May I applied for an Letter of Proof of Income from my embassy. Just like last years. I did know that the rules had changed a bit. So when they changed last year I did inform by email if this in my situation would be a problem. I was assured that there would be no problem. So begin May I did apply for an Letter of Proof of Income from my embassy. But within a few days I was informed that they would not give a Letter of Proof of Income as they considered my income not to be income anymore. Now it goes a bit far but the bottom line is if you have an investment fund that makes money and you are using that money as income ..... then the tax department of my home country will see that as income but not the embassy. The embassy wants proof of a netto monthly sustainable income. Not that the Thai immigration is asking for a monthly income. Not that the Thai immigration is asking for a netto income. Not that the Thai immigration is asking for a sustainable income. Just my embassy is asking for that. Just for fun? Well in my personal opinion the embassy is abusing their power to try to track possible black money. Not that it is the duty of any embassy to do that. So just for fun?

So I filed a complain first with the embassy itself and they said "Yes, actually you are right it is not really mentioned on our website". I am still wondering on ground of what law they are making up this rule. So I filed a second official complain but that takes 6 weeks. As I had not received any reply within 6 weeks I did send a second complain and was answered something like "Sorry something did go wrong" and within a few days I did receive the answer something like "Yes you are completely correct and the embassy was so kind to change website. But bad luck for you because the embassy does not have to give the Letter of Proof of Income if they do not want to give it". Thank you dear home country government!

What now?
Of course there are other ways of getting a visa or EOS. So I went to my local immigration office to explain my situation as it was now 2 weeks before the end of my current EOS. And I must say they are the most service minded and friendly people I have ever met at an immigration office. As said before it would go a bit far to explain everything but the bottom line is that I will apply for an EOS based on marriage and must have 400.000 Thai baht on my Thai bank account.

But as that money has to be at least 2 months on my Thai bank account I needed 2 more months and for that I applied for an Extension of Stay to visit Thai family. This did costs me an extra 1.900 Thai baht. So after 2 months I went back again to the immigration office to apply for a 1 year Extension of Stay based on marriage.

What I needed for an Extension of Stay based on marriage?
First of all you need to pay a 1.900 Thai baht non-refundable application fee. And you need a lot of papers, about the size of a good book because your will need 2 complete the same sets as application with :
  • Application form filled in and signed (TM.7)
  • Signed Acknowledgment of Penalties for Visa Overstay
  • Signed Acknowledgment of Term & Conditions for permit of temporary stay in the Kingdom of Thailand
  • Passphoto (2inch)
  • Full copy of all used pages of passport
  • Proof of income (in my case my Thai bank account) : Full copy of my bank book
  • Proof of income (in my case my Thai bank account) : Letter from bank (this did cost me 200 Thai baht)
  • Map of location where you are living with the full address written down
  • Copy of marriage certificate (both sides)
  • If your wife changed here name when married : Certificate of change of name
  • Letter of proof that you still married to each other (can get at amphur)
  • Copy ID card wife (both sides)
  • Copy of rental contract
  • Copy of house-book of rental contract (first page and page with name)
  • Copy ID card of house owner (both sides)
  • 5 photos of your wife and yourself. And this becomes a bit difficult as the requirement for what photos they want depends on the immigration officer. My recommendation is to take more photos and take them with you, so they can choose what photos they like. I was required to have
    • Photo of the all house and your wife and yourself
    • Close up photo of your wife and yourself and the house number
    • Photo of your wife and yourself in the living room
    • Photo of your wife and yourself in the bedroom 
    • Photo of your wife and yourself in the kitchen
  • Of course of all the copies there need also to be also the original paper (although they did never ask for that).
Step 1 and 2 of application process
So I applied for the application and all papers were checked. After the first step of applying there is directly a second step in the process of application. That is an interview with both of us. A immigrations officer asked my wife some questions like names of father and mother, how many sisters & brothers, how much we pay rental, where we did meet, where we did marry, how long we know each-other. After that a report of "both" interviews was printed and we had to sign it.

The approval of a 1 year Extension of Stay based on marriage cannot be done by my local immigration office but has to be done by the regional immigration office. So this will take maximal 30 days (although I was originally told this could also be 45 days what would have been more convenient for me). So after finishing step 1 and 2 I did get an new stamp in my passport Supporting Thai Wife, Application under consideration, that gives me permission to stay another 30 days (starting on the day of application). And I have to contact in person the immigration office at the date 30 days after the application.

Step 3 of the application process
There is third step of the application and that is that 2 immigration officers will visit us at our home. That would be the first time in the now more as 16 years living here. They will come within 2 weeks after application and will call before they come. They will also have a chat with witnesses that we are really living here, like 2 neighbours. The neighbours will have to show their ID card and make a copy of it. Not all neighbours will like that, but our neighbours are very friendly and easy. After this interview the application is send to the regional office and awaiting approval.

Update : After about 10 days 3 immigration officers visited us and we invited 2 neighbours to act as witness. And witness report was signed by all and photos were made.

Step 4 of the application process
The last step is easy, just picking it up. As everything is checked the chance that the application is rejected is very small. Actually I never heard of it. They will put another stamp in my passport for Extension of Stay based on marriage for 1 year counted from the day of application.

Be aware that this kind Extension of Stay expire the moment you are leaving the country. Example you go on holiday to Vientiane. When you exit Thailand they will stamp your Extension of Stay as VOID. Then when you come back you are just a tourist. To prevent this from happening you should apply for an Re-Entry Permit. You can get this at your local immigration office as Multiple or as Single. A Multiple Re-Entry Permit costs 3.800 Thai baht and gives you the right to re-enter Thailand within the time of your Extension of Stay as many times as you like. So after receiving my Extension of Stay I always apply for an Multiple Re-Entry Permit for in case I like to go traveling or if I have to go to my home country for an emergency.

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