Immigration clarifies bank account rules

PHUKET CITY: Foreigners living in Phuket and applying for permit-to-stay extensions on the basis of marriage or retirement status do not need to “freeze” the minimum bank balance in their bank accounts, Phuket Immigration has announced.

“Foreigners applying for a one-year permit to stay based on marriage or retirement do not have to freeze the money in their accounts,” explained Pol Capt Krissarat Nuesen, Deputy Inspector of the Phuket Provincial Immigration Office.

“They just need to show us proof of their normal income and expenses and prove that they can support themselves in Thailand to a good standard of living.

“Some foreigners have misunderstood the minimum balance requirement as meaning they would no longer be able to use their own money.

“In fact, Immigration doesn’t require that the funds be kept in the bank at all times. It does, however, require that foreigners be prepared to prove their financial status is sound at any time we decide to check on them.

“It’s not that we won’t let them take money out of their bank account to pay normal living expenses, but the required balance should be shown properly and for a sufficient period of time.

“There have been many cases in which bank accounts were almost empty just a few days after they showed the minimum required balance.

“We suspect [that in these cases] people were borrowing money from friends so that they could meet the requirement on the day when we checked, then returning the money as soon as that had been accomplished. That is wrong,” he said.

To be granted a one-year extension of permit-to-stay, any foreign man (but not woman – the financial requirements do not apply to women) applying on the basis of being married to a Thai must show a minimum balance of 400,000 baht. Those with retired status must show double this amount.

Capt Krissarat added that proof of guaranteed monthly income paid into a Thai bank account in the applicant’s name could also be used to prove that the applicant was financially sound. In this case the figures are 40,000 baht or 65,000 baht a month, respectively.

He added that all documents submitted for this purpose must first be endorsed by the applicant’s embassy in Thailand. Pension documents, for example, can be verified by the embassy.

“A foreigner who has a business outside Thailand must take documents to the embassy proving business ownership and showing the income received each month from the business.

“The embassy will check the documents and then issue a paper stating that the foreigner truly has sufficient regular income from the business to meet our requirements.”

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