Forced Out Of Thailand By A Visa Issue
Well, there’s a first time for everything, me sending this submission. Misery loves company? So, here’s my immigration tale of woe to ponder for any comment from your readers.
I am American. I have lived in Thailand since 2006, annually renewing my retirement visa. See where this is going already? I have a Thai wife, and we married in the USA in 1991. She has a green card for the USA. We bought a house in Pathum Thani in 2003, using my son’s grandfather as a nominee. My son’s mother was a friend of my wife. His father is still in prison for drugs. He is 15 years old now. He came home from the hospital when born to my house, the only place he has lived. I have taught him fairly good English. We adopted him; his Thai ID card has my surname. I even got him a third / middle name. That was funny at the office as the Thais couldn’t be made to understand why we would give him a third name. All this background is to provide some perspective.
Last Friday, July 12th, we go to the main Bangkok Immigration office at Chaeng Wattana. I brought my wife with me and there are pluses and minuses to this. I sensed trouble this year and wanted my wife to know first-hand what was going on. The trouble was that the immigration officer talked to her in Thai and cut me off when I tried to ask a question, saying that she had said everything to my wife. Isn’t that kinda rude? I had 12 nice, monthly statements of deposits of funds for the last year showing my company pension directly deposited from USA in to my Bangkok Bank account, an amount just in excess of 100,000 baht each month, even with the ridiculously strong baht. The required amount, in lieu of 800,000 baht in savings, which I have never had and never will have. The other means of qualifying for a retirement visa apart from having 800,000 baht in one’s account has always been, as far as I know, a minimum of 65,000 baht monthly income.
I was denied my visa extension of stay as the Immigration officer wouldn’t accept my bank info. Also, you know the bank acted ignorant when I went there for what I managed to get. Little help. I have no understanding of why I was denied and what I need to do to renew my visa. The officer offered me one solace, telling me a lot of Americans are having trouble and referring to my wonderful American embassy which has stopped issuing income affidavits.
My visa expires July 19th, and I am off to the Philippines at 5 AM that day so I do not to overstay. I am wondering if I can ever live in the Land of Smiles again. We know that’s not a good name now. I will return only as a visitor. Needless to say, my wife is bummed.
I have called two visa services today to get info and am thinking of using a service for the first time. Naturally, there has been conflicting info from these two visa firms. Amazing Thailand! I have tried to be an optimist my life, so maybe this is some sort of blessing in disguise for me ha-ha.
I am quite welcome in the Philippines and can stay with easily obtained extension stickers in my passport. And the cost of living there….yes, a lower standard of living, but no air pollution and English is spoken everywhere. Dollar to Peso is 70% better than the dollar to baht, and then dollar equivalent prices on stuff like bottled water, beer, cable TV (God, I came to hate True) are a half what you pay in Thailand, or so. The combination means my costs in the Philippines would be about 40% of what they are here.
It is very easy to feel that Thailand no longer wants some of us long-standing, money-contributing, law-abiding foreigners anymore.
What should I do? I’m sad to be without my visa after Friday. And it is not nice to feel unwanted and unappreciated. But, what can I do?
OK, so I will go to the Philippines with my government pension. I will leave my company pension here for my family. I won’t abandon them.
This is a heart-breaking story and a family should never be split up in a situation like this.
On the face of it, you would appear to qualify for an extension of stay. If you can show a monthly deposit in to your account of in excess of 65,000 baht, that should meet the financial requirements, as far as I am aware. It is not clear why you were declined on these grounds.
Even if your visa extension is declined, there are other options:
- There are many agencies which specialise in visa assistance. They can help you get your visa extended. Your situation appears to be relatively straightforward and I imagine most agencies could help. Cost is anything from 20,000 – 30,000 baht.
- You could apply for a multiple-entry non-Immigrant O visa at the Thai consulate in Savannakhet, Laos. I think all you need is to show that you are legally married in Thailand and have 400,000 baht deposited in an account in Thailand in your name. This is a visa valid for a year and allows a 3-month stay each time you enter the country. That means you would have to exit and re-enter the country every 3 months – but it means you’d still be with your family.
My advice is not to give up so easily! There are ways. I am sure an agency can help you stay in Thailand. There’s no need to leave, unless that is what you want…
The author can be contacted by sending email to Stick who will forward it to the author.