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

Tanutam Thawan

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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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