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A glimmer of hope for expats unable to satisfy minimum income requirements

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A glimmer of hope for expats unable to satisfy minimum income requirements | Thaiger

September 26 looms as a dark day for many foreigners who have been unable to sort out a way to either leave the country or stay in Thailand. But at least one Thai immigration office appears to be discussing some leniency in this crazy time.

Phuket Immigration has specifically addressed the issue for foreigners on a non-immigrant B (Business) visa who have been unable to sort out the minimum income requirement for a 1 year permit, to delay filing their annual application pending a “possible” temporary reprieve from Bangkok.

The story, published in The Phuket News, suggests that foreigners who have been legally living and working on Phuket haven’t been earning their usual salaries – either through sackings, new arrangements with employees or a drop in business – as before the outbreak. Immigration officials in Phuket recognised that the expats are now facing challenges to get their usual application for a 1 year permit to stay approved.

This is NOT an official reprieve or extension to the September 26 deadline and any official announcements will have to be made by Immigration officials in Bangkok.

The visa amnesty, now extended twice since it was offered in April, now allows people with visas that have run out during the amnesty period, including tourist visas, the opportunity to stay in Thailand until September 26. There has always been a veiled threat that the amnesty won’t be extended again but, as the travel situation hasn’t improved, there now appears to be some reality setting in and a possibility of ‘tweaking’ the visa situation for some foreigners.

The Immigration Bureau has been urging foreigners to start filing their usual applications ASAP to avoid last minute rushes coming up to the September 26 deadline. But many foreigners have been unable to satisfy the minimum income requirement for a full 1 year permits to stay, leaving only the option of a 90 day extension, or in the worse case scenario, having to leave the country after September 26.

• The minimum income required for foreigners from most western European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the US is 50,000 baht per month.

• Applicants from South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the minimum requirement is 45,000 baht per month.

• Foreigners from other Asian countries (excepting neighbours Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam), as well as applicants from Eastern Europe, Russia, South Africa, South America and Central American countries, or Mexico, the minimum monthly income required is 35,000 baht per month.

• The minimum requirement from African countries (other than South Africa), or from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, is 25,000 baht per month.

The article notes that many employees on Phuket, foreign and Thai, have had their salaries downgraded, or they’ve been outright sacked, since earlier in the year. Many businesses, particularly along the touristy west coast, remain closed or are struggling along with minimal staff.

Phuket Immigration Office Deputy Chief Udom Thongchin says their applications cannot approve them as the conditions have not been met.

“We understand the situation has affected the income of businesses that hire foreigners. It has affected everyone’s monthly income. The income is not enough for foreigners’ applications. This affects foreigners in Phuket, and in other provinces, but there have been no changes or updates to the regulations concerning extensions to permits-to-stay,” he told The Phuket News.

But he acknowledged that Bangkok immigration officials were “considering the problem and might provide some form of reprieve”. He says that foreigners struggling to meet the minimum income requirement should delay filing their applications.

(The Thaiger would recommend anyone in this situation should go to their immigration office and discuss their personal situation, and make a decision based on the advice from your local immigration officials)

“Please wait for an announcement after September 15, because Immigration officials in Bangkok are talking about this issue to figure out the problem. I think they will have some solution before September 26, which is the final date to apply for an extension.”

The amnesty for filing 90 day reports for foreigners with current and valid visas expired on August 31. Foreigners who missed the deadline are now in breech of the 90 day reporting rules and will be fined 2,000 baht, according to immigration officials.

(The Thaiger would recommend that if you fall into this category you should head to your local immigration office ASAP, accept that you’re late and politely state your case. Hopefully you may end up speaking to the right official on the right day… nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    barry

    Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Good news – It would be great to allow the in-country/ onshore switch from non-B to non-ED, which would help people who want to stay in the country.
    Tourists can switch from their VOA etc to non-ED in-country, but at the moment people on the amnesty with expired non-B can only leave the country, or apply for a very very grey area and expensive “non-O volunteer visa” through an agent…

    • Avatar

      Paul

      Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      Can tourists on amnesty switch to Ed visa? I was told it takes 30 days and is already too late.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    More dual pricing.
    Westerners have to have B50,000 a month income.
    Russians B35,000 a month, and Vietnam plus neighbouring countries B25,000 a month.
    Is that because neighbouring countries will impose a income of B50,000 a month on Thais?
    The west should impose a income of 50,000 a month on Thais in western countries, that will wipe the Thai smile off their racist faces.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:01 am

      50,000 pounds?

      No, I just think we should make a simple FTA with Thailand that bins all the bureaucracy that we have to face.

      Get Thailand to reciprocate ILR and the right to work for a UK spouse. Simple.

  3. Avatar

    james

    Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    A salary of 50,000 baht a month? Who would want to work for that amount for any length of time, when returning home after a few years you will arrive with empty pockets, be priced out of the housing market and live a life of poverty?

    Earn good money outside of Thailand and go there for holidays until you are rich enough to retire there in luxury not live on a measly 50,000 baht a month.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 10:04 am

      I see where you’re coming from, but imagine you are on a lot more than that in the west, after tax and living costs, you’re left with even less than in Thailand, but more miserable and with more stress. Who wants to work themselves to death just to own a tiny house in a cold miserable country that taxes everything you ever do?! Even taxes your pension when you can no longer work! It’s a joke!

      • Avatar

        james

        Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 9:35 pm

        Preesy

        I have not seen many people being worked to death in a place such as the UK where we have free schools, free university at the point of use and a very good chance of ending up well off if people just apply themselves a little bit, in Thailand for example most people have no chance and are born poor and die poor.

        It easy to end up well off in the UK, I can’t imagine being born in Thailand with its corrupt nepotism and unequal opportunity for most people.

        Here it is what you know which gets you ahead in life, in Thailand, it is who you know.

        Being well off does have its disadvantages but someone has to do it.

        Ps, I wonder why there are so many millions of people trying to sneak into Western countries if they are so bad?

        • Avatar

          Jilted John

          Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 11:17 am

          The reason so many millions of people sneak into Western countries especially the UK is because their spineless Government and Immigration are a soft touch and far too generous with their benefit handouts that the likes of you kind tax payers donate too.
          If i’m going to be the minority race then i’d rather be it in someone else’s country than my own.
          I would say ‘Rule Britannia’ but apparently that’s banned now…

    • Avatar

      Mel Burn

      Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 10:39 pm

      You cannot reliably retire in Thailand even if you have money. You can be locked out of the country at any time as we are seeing now. Hence, do not ever buy property in Thailand.

  4. Avatar

    Jilted John

    Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 11:28 am

    It would be interesting to know what the various Thai Baht exchange rates were when the decision was made on the monthly income required for a Retirement Visa compared to todays rate.

    For example the GBP 20 years ago was returning close to 40% more baht than todays rate which is a massive amount to a UK pension here.

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Expats

Thailand looks at proposal to make it easier for expats and long-termers

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Thailand looks at proposal to make it easier for expats and long-termers | Thaiger

Thailand is looking to make it easier for expats and long-term visa holders to stay in the country. The Immigration Bureau is hoping to boost investments and the economy once the pandemic is over. The proposed changes could do away with 90 day reporting requirements which have been well-received by expats.

Recently, the online website to report 90 day check-ins has been down, citing maintenance issues. Hotel staff have also been dealing with the TM-30 reporting system being down. Chayotid Kridakorn, a former head of JP Morgan Securities Thailand, told the Bangkok Post that immigration hoops are a key pain point for foreigners working in Thailand.

“We want to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, plans to help Thailand recover economically have been detailed in a framework to be proposed to the government’s economic panel in the next month. Improvements to immigration regulations, work permits for foreign experts, and visa applications are on the framework list. Relaxing location reporting requirements for foreign workers which is done through the 90 day reporting, is also slated to be amended.

The framework also will include inducements for foreign investors such as corporate income-tax cuts, relaxed property-holding rules and incentives for retirees and start-up companies. An adviser to Thailand’s Deputy PM, says he aims to bring in 1 million retirees or pensioners over the next few years. He says expats could collectively contribute as much as 1.2 trillion baht to the economy each year. But Thailand’s gross domestic product growth won’t return to pre-Covid levels until the 3rd quarter of 2022, according to the Bank of Thailand.

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Expats

Proposals to get rid of 90 day reporting and ease investment rules in Thailand

Tim Newton

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Proposals to get rid of 90 day reporting and ease investment rules in Thailand | Thaiger

In amongst a sea of bad new over the past week, a glimmer of hope for expats and long-stay travellers. You better sit down…

The Thai government are looking into changing the long standing 90 day reporting for people staying in Thailand longer than 90 days on a long-stay visa. But don’t get out the champagne just yet.

For the last few decades any foreigner staying in Thailand for more than 90 days had to report to Thai Immigration about their current whereabouts. Immigration officials added an online alternative a few years ago but its reliability has been patchy.

As far as The Thaiger can tell, the online reporting has been down for at least 3 months. (Comment below if you’ve had a different experience)

The Bangkok Post reports that the changes form part of a strategy “to boost investment and tourism revenue”.

For hotels that have had to report the arrival and location of any foreign arrivals, the equally unpopular TM30 form, the online posting of this information has also been equally patchy over the last few months (many hotels simply don’t bother – it’s up to YOU to insist they check you in with the Immigration system).

Though there has been no official announcement made at this stage, the desperation for visitors and tourist, that used to fuel up to 20% of Thailand’s annual GDP, is forcing all departments to look at relaxing earlier draconian or outdated paperwork in favour of encouraging more arrivals, during the Covid-era or or after.

Immigration officials have often cited the need to track transnational crime as the reason to maintain its strict, and often inconvenient, rules – 90 day reporting, TM30s and TM 28s.

But none of this has reached beyond proposal stage at the moment but, according to the head of a government taskforce investigating the proposals at the moment, there will never be a better time to bring Thailand’s immigration and investment rules into the 21st century.

Chayotid Kridakorn, a former head of JP Morgan Securities, in now leading a Thai government economic panel to recommend changes that will make it easier for investors and travellers to enter into, and stay, in Thailand, according to Bangkok Post.

Even on their most optimistic guesses, the Bank of Thailand says GDP is unlikely to return to pre-Civd levels until Q3, this year. Many pundits would say this is optimistic, indeed.

Other groups to fall between the immigration cracks, up to now, have included the digital nomads – people who want to work remotely, anywhere, anytime. Their creed is ‘have laptop and wifi – can work’. Most digital nomads have used various visas, and border hops, to keep living and working in Thailand. Under current rules, their work has been, strictly, illegal and a specific visa wold allow the Thai government to better control this huge resource and tax them more effectively.

Mr Chayotid says that Thailand doesn’t “want to be left behind and die with old technology”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Privatising Covid vaccines – Thai government gives private hospitals the go-ahead to buy vaccines

Tim Newton

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Privatising Covid vaccines – Thai government gives private hospitals the go-ahead to buy vaccines | Thaiger

“About 10,000 people are being vaccinated around Thailand, on average, with 14,000 people being vaccinated each day in Phuket.”

Private hospitals and institutions have been given the official go-ahead to purchase up to 10 million doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines. The purchases will be in addition to what the Thai government is also doing. The major sticking point, despite the approval, however, continues to be the world supply shortage of vaccines, with demand far outstripping current supply.

The CCSA’s Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin announced that the Thai PM had approved the privatisation of vaccines but maintained that the roll out of free vaccines for Thais and people at risk would continue at full pace. The Thai government have been fending off accusations that it was blocking the acquisition of vaccines by private companies and hospitals. The 10 million doses approved for private purchases actually allows about 5 million vaccinated people with most of the approved vaccines needing 2 doses.

The spokesperson explained that the Thai government needs to have 40 million Thais vaccinated before they would be able to claim any scientific level of herd immunity. The public health minister said that around 10,000 people per day are being vaccinated around the country, on average. About 350,000 doses have arrived in Thailand and 1.5 million more doses are awaiting delivery for this month, according to the Thai PM.

The order allows the private sector to use a letter of approval from the Thai government to purchase its own supplies separately. Or, alternatively, to purchase directly from the government and resell to customers.

The government’s current order for vaccines is enough for around 35 million people with a local supplier, manufacturing the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine under license, from June this year.

Dr Taweesilp also urged private companies to target and purchase vaccines from manufacturers other than the vaccine companies the Thai government were already dealing with.

The following vaccines are currently approved in Thailand…

  • AZD1222 by AstraZeneca/Oxford University (2 doses)
  • ARS-CoV-2 (CoronaVac) by Sinovac (2 doses)
  • NT162b2/CORMIRNATY – Tozinameran by Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)
  • Covishield (ChAdOx1_nCoV19) by the Serum Institute of India (2 doses)
  • Ad26.COV2.S by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Single dose)
  • mRNA-1273 by Moderna (2 doses)

There are also current applications pending from other vaccine producers which will likely be approved in coming weeks.

Many expats have been chasing information about when they could expect to be vaccinated. Despite some promises from the government there has been little concrete information about formalities to register for vaccination at this stage. Meanwhile many expats have indicated they were prepared to pay for their vaccination but were unable to get clarification from private hospitals about when that may be available.

In Phuket the provincial government has promised ALL registered residents, local or foreign, that they would be eligible for government-funded vaccination. There has been a flurry of activity on the island over the past 2 weeks since the ‘Sandbox’ proposal was approved, in principal, for a July re-opening of quarantine-free tourism to vaccinated travellers. There has been queues and waiting lists at the island’s public hospitals every day for the past week. Currently some 14,000 people are being vaccinated every day, on average.

Meanwhile, the events of the past few days – the closure of entertainment venues and bars in 41 provinces, including all the main tourist areas – will force the government to re-consider any scheduled plans to re-open borders and reduction of quarantine times. Travellers are still allowed to visit Thailand, under new guidelines introduced on April 1, 2021.

What you currently need to enter Thailand…

  • Vaccine certificate, either a print out or the original document (or vaccinated travellers)
  • Certificate of Entry issued by the Royal Thai Embassy in your country
  • Covid-19 health insurance with a minimum coverage of US$100,000
  • Booking confirmation for an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel
  • Negative Covid-19 test issued no more than 72 hours before departure

Anyone considering travelling to Thailand at this time is recommended to check with the Thai embassy in their country first, before making bookings of ASQ hotels or flights.

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