Long-term Visa Options in Thailand

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After you’ve got you short term visa, it’s exciting to start booking flights, looking for hotels, and trying to get the most amazing deals on traveling to Thailand. However, it’s ideal to consider the options you have for a long term Thai visa. Some people only want to go for a short period, but others wish to live here for a while.

Getting a long-term visa can be challenging because there are so many types available. However, understanding what they are can point you in the right direction. Then, you can search for insurance for moving your items and setting up a house or apartment in this beautiful country.

Education Visa

The Thai education visa is given to those who want to study at a university, attend seminars, intern, or have training sessions in Thailand. Generally, the holder must stay in the country for 90 days. Plus, the visa may be extended for one year from the first date of entry.

Since it’s considered a non-immigrant ED visa, you must send an application to the consulate outside the country or at the Thai Embassy. Before you can do so, you should be enrolled in a full-time educational course that’s recognized by the government. It must meet the requirements of the visa, and you’ve got to pay 50 percent of the total costs.

Once enrolled, the institution must give you the necessary paperwork to make the application. It can often send it directly to the place where you put in your application and generally takes four to five business days to complete.

As part of the ED visa, you must report your current address to the immigration office in Thailand every 90 days. This can be done by mail, through an agent (Power of Attorney), or in person at the office.

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Education by Kimberly Farmer

Business Visa

If you’re opening a company or applying for work in Thailand, you need a business visa. It’s best to get one before you visit the country. You may also extend it to a long-term visa through the local immigration office.

There are two different categories for foreigners:

Conducting Business

  • The non-immigrant one means you’re conducting business or setting up a company. You’ve got a 90-day visa (single-entry), which is issued in your home country and lets you stay in Thailand for 90 consecutive days.
  • Then, there’s the one-year non-immigrant visa. This is given to those who conduct business in Thailand but often travel in and out of the country. It’s extended to the visa once your work permit gets processed. Still, you must get a sponsorship from a company or entity in Thailand for these.

Employment

  • If you plan to work in Thailand, you need the initial 90-day non-immigrant visa (B) from your home country.
  • Your prospective employer (in Thailand) must sponsor your visa application.
  • The work permit application happens during those 90 days.
  • Once you get a valid work permit, you can apply for the one-year non-immigrant visa extension and continue doing so as long as you work for that company.
  • Typically, you must report your address to the Thai Immigration Office every 90 days. Whenever you travel outside of Thailand, you must gain a re-entry permit to come back.

Follower Visa

The follower visa is a little different than others. This often deals with the spouses or children of someone who holds a retirement visa or an expat who works in Thailand. In a sense, you want to live there, and then your children or spouse follow you after everything is set up.

Generally, children must be less than 20 years old to apply for a follower visa. However, there’s no age limit for spouses. Typically, it only works great when you plan to live in Thailand for a long period (one year or longer). Otherwise, spouses and children can often receive regular short visas for vacations and visits to your home.

Elite Visa

The elite visa is given to members of the Thailand Privilege Card and is a long-term option. It’s categorized under the Tourist Visa or Privilege Entry Visa, which allows residency in the country along with specific benefits for anywhere from five, 10, or 20 years. Overall, it depends on the package you choose and the membership fee you pay.

  • The elite visa is a five-year multiple entry visa that’s renewable and extendable for one year stays per entry. If you have a membership of 10 to 20 years, that five-year visa is provided every five years.
  • Holders of such a visa can enjoy an uninterrupted stay in the country. In a sense, they don’t have to leave every 90 days as other visa types require.
  • You’re actually represented by the Elite staff when it comes to reporting every 90 days because Thai immigration still requires it.
  • Generally, holders get expedited passport processing and immigration formalities when they arrive in Thailand, making it the best choice for many people.

Check Your Eligibility for Thailand Elite Visa Now

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Long-term Resident Program (LTR)

The newest long-term visa to Thailand is the LTR program. It was launched in 2021 and is a 10-year visa designed to attract foreigners who want to relocate to this country for a longer period. In a sense, it should boost the country’s economic development and investment. Those who are eligible include:

  • Foreign retirees
  • High-income individuals
  • Foreign professionals with specialty skills
  • Foreigners who want to work remotely from Thailand

With the long-term resident program, the visa holder can bring four family members, including children under 20 years old and a legal spouse. There are various requirements included, such as:

  • Presenting a health insurance policy that covers medical expenses
  • Savings accounts of at least $100,000
  • Proof of personal income
  • $1 million in assets
  • Investments of at least $500,000

Those who want to work in Thailand must:

  • Produce employment service agreements or contracts with a Thai business
  • Proof of work experience in a targeted industry for five years before the application date
  • Personal income of at least $80,000/year for two years
  • Health insurance policy that covers medical expenses of up to $50,000
  • Master’s degree or higher in technology and science or special experience relevant to your job assignments

Marriage Visa

The marriage visa is ideal for foreigners who get married to a Thai national. This marriage has to be reported or registered in the country to get the visa.

Generally, the application begins by getting a non-immigrant visa (O) from the consulate or Thai embassy. Once you get that, you can convert it into the one-year marriage visa at your local immigration office.

You’re required to meet the financial requirements, which means having a savings account at a Thai bank of 400,000 THB. Alternatively, you can get 40,000 THB in monthly income that is transferred to a Thai account. It might also be verified by your foreign embassy. Overall, the marriage visa is only valid for a year, so you must renew it annually in Thailand.

Retirement Visa

The retirement visa is another long-term option in Thailand. It’s highly popular among retirees who are over 50 years old. To get one, you must receive an initial visa. The non-immigrant visa (O) is valid for just 90 days and is often issued by the Thai embassy or a consulate in your country of residence.

Once you get your visa to Thailand, you must open a Thai bank account and transfer over 800,000 THB from your foreign account. After two full months, you may then convert the 90-day visa into a retirement visa, though it’s only valid for a year.

Generally, retirement visas don’t require you to have health insurance, a medical certificate, or a criminal background check. Once it expires, you can request an extension of stay from your local immigration office.

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Retire in Thailand by Evan Krause

SMART Visa

Thailand is now driving its economy through innovation. Therefore, the government has taken one more step to attract technologies and talents to boost its targeted industries. The SMART visa program was designed to bring in startups, investors, senior executives, and science/technology experts.

The SMART visa is a new option designed specifically to attract skilled investors, manpower, startups, entrepreneurs, and executives who want to invest or work in the industries within Thailand. These include:

  • Renewable energy
  • Environmental management
  • Science and technology
  • Human resource development
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Medical hub
  • Digital
  • Biochemicals and biofuels
  • Logistics and aviation
  • Robotics and automation
  • Food for the future
  • Biotechnology and agriculture
  • Affluent, Medical, Wellness tourism
  • Smart electronics
  • Next-generation automotive

There are four SMART visas, and each one features plenty of benefits. These include a four-year stay, one-year check-ins (instead of 90 days), no re-entry permits, and work eligibility for children and spouses without a work visa.

Here are the types of SMART visas available:

  • Talent – This is a four-year visa available to tech and science experts who earn about 200,000 THB per month.
  • Investor – This is available to investors when they bring 20 million THB to companies that use technology for delivery or manufacturing. There are 10 targeted industries here.
  • Executive – This is available to those senior managers who have a Bachelor’s degree, earn at least 200,000 THB a month, and have 10 years of work experience. It’s similar to the ones listed above because the holder has to be employed by a company in one of the targeted industries.
  • Startup – This is a one- or two-year visa for entrepreneurs who want to start a Thai business. To be eligible, you must have health insurance, deposit 600,000 THB in Thailand, and set up your company in one of those targeted industries within the first year of being there.

Visa on Arrival

Thailand offers a visa-on-arrival scheme for passport holders of 19 countries and territories. They can enter the country without getting a tourist visa from their country’s Thai embassy. You must:

  • Be from one of the approved countries
  • Visit Thailand for tourism only
  • Hold a passport with an expiration date of over 30 days
  • Be able to list a verifiable and valid accommodation address in Thailand (which can be an apartment or hotel)
  • Must have a return ticket to exit Thailand within 30 days

This is not a long-term visa, but it can help you sort everything out while you’re in the country. Check our Step by Step Guide to get a short term visa. That means you can use this to apply for one of the long-term options to stay in Thailand for one year or more. It all depends on your goals, finances, and requirements.

Visa Exemption

Sometimes, you might not require a visa to come to Thailand. The exemption rule lets tourists enter Thailand from 64 countries without needing paperwork. You may travel to and visit the country for 30-45 days at a time when you go through a land border checkpoint or international airport. The rules for this exemption include:

  • Be from one of the approved countries
  • Be visiting for tourism
  • Hold a passport with an expiration date of six months or more
  • Provide a valid and verifiable address (including hotels and apartments)
  • Have a confirmed return ticket to exit Thailand in 30 days
  • Provide proof of finances

Generally, it’s best to already have a flight ticket to exit the country. Otherwise, you may not get into Thailand through the exemption. If you enter by sea or land, you need a normal passport and can only visit twice each year. However, there are no limits when traveling by air.

For more information about visa exemption you can go to our Step by Step Guide to get a visa.

Many people use the visa exemption to get things set up for one of the other visas, such as an education, business, follower, elite, LTR, marriage, retirement, or SMART visa. While you must be a tourist, that doesn’t mean you can’t work on things behind the scenes and enjoy what Thailand has to offer.

Conclusion

Do you want to live in Thailand as a retiree or entrepreneur? There are many ways to do this, but you must go through the right channels. The first step is to understand the many visa options available, and you’ve learned about them here.

Whether you’re coming to Thailand for education, business, or retirement, there’s a visa that can help you stay here long-term without having to leave every 90 days. It’s what most people want. Just make sure you’ve got appropriate health insurance, book flights, and research hotels to get the most from your experience. This is one of the best countries to visit and live in!