We have been back from our travels for a couple of weeks now. It was a good little trip. Ben now fancies himself as quite the little 5-year old daredevil. His antics this trip included paddling a kayak down rapids, driving an ATV and he even did an army parachute cable jump. He has been watching the X-games and his new ambition is to be a speed rock climber. It is all a far cry from when I was that age and all we had was football in the street.
Anyway, I am feeling quite pleased with myself because I have finally sorted myself a proper 1-year extension to my visa. I have lived in Thailand for 8-years now but strangely, I have done the entire stay using what are basically short-term visas. Yes, these visas did include 1-year multi-entry marriage visas but even these still mean you have to leave the country every 3-months. Perhaps what is even more strange is that I was quite happy to accept this arrangement.
For anyone who is unaware of Thai visa regulations, if you want to stay in Thailand long-term without doing regular visa runs, then you have to apply for an extension of stay. Firstly, you get your marriage visa (or business visa, education visa, retirement visa, etc) from a Thai consulate outside of Thailand. However, these visas really only allow short-term stays of 90-days (I think it is 1 year for the retirement visa). To stay longer than this you have to go to an immigration office and apply for an extension of stay. You have to meet the various regulations and criteria, which vary depending on what type of visa you are extending.
I always knew I could apply for a 1-year extension to the marriage visa but I could never quite be bothered with all the paperwork. I was happy to take my family for a trip every 3-months and hop over the border. Then every 15-months I went to the Thai consulate in Penang to get a new 1-year multi-entry visa.
However, this all changed on my last trip to Penang when they said they would only give me a single-entry 3-months. Now my hand was forced. I either had to go to Penang every 3-months which really would turn into a major chore, or I had to do the 1-year extension. I started gathering the paperwork. I spent some time researching the required paperwork (http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/ is a great source for up to date visa info).
Currently, the main requirement for an extension to the marriage visa is to either show 400,000 baht in a Thai bank or an income greater than 40,000-baht a month. I was going to apply on the income basis. My income comes from renting out my flat in London. The evidence the Thai immigration office wants is a letter from your embassy confirming the income. So my first step was to send the rental receipts to the British Embassy in Bangkok and request the letter, duly returned for a fee of 1,868-baht.
I then gathered up the rest of the required documents. These include the obvious such as passport, marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, wife’s id card and tabien baan (originals plus 2 copies of everything). Also required is your Thai bank book (plus 2 copies of every page), even if you are applying on the income option.
One other slightly odd requirement mentioned is family photos and a map to your house so the immigration officers can make random checks on the authenticity of the marriage. It turns out different immigration offices have their own interpretation of the rules and the Phuket office do not require this.
So with wife in tow, we went to the immigration office and made the application. They were too busy and told us to come back next week. We returned the following week and made the application. There was one problem with our paperwork. We had the original ‘kor ror 3’ marriage certificate when apparently what we needed was the ‘kor ror 2’ marriage certificate. Off we dashed to our local Amphur office for the correct certificate. An hour later and finally the application was completed. You get a 30-day ‘under consideration’ period and then you go back to find out if the extension has been granted. I had met all the requirements for the extension but you still worry whether the application will be accepted.
So 30-days later, we returned to the immigration office. This time it was very quiet. We went straight to the desk and the officer took my passport and disappeared with a mysterious expression on his face. He returned with some paperwork, perused it, looked concerned, sucked in some air and shook his head. Then suddenly stamp, stamp, stamp in my passport, a big smile and he returned the passport. They were actually very pleasant through the whole process.
So fantastic, no more visa runs for me. You do have to go to the immigration office every 90-days to confirm your address but that is a lot easier than leaving the country every 90-days.
School starts again next week.