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Spodal

5 Visa Options. Which Is Best? Seeking Advice

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Sorry in advance for the long post.  Thanks in advance to those members who take the time to read it and offer advice. 

 

I am a 43-year-old American.  Retired early last year – December 31, 2018 -- after 18 years as a corporate pilot.  No kids, no wife, no alimony – so it was doable.  I had simply become tired of 5 am departures and hot-tempered executives constantly pushing the boundaries of safety to get there “NOW!!!!”

 

Today, I’m ok financially.  Not wealthy, but there’s enough in my portfolio to go the distance.  I’m living modestly and enjoying my life much more now versus daily 6 hour butt rides crisscrossing the US hauling pricks to business meetings😊

 

Anyway, upon retiring, I took a 9-month trip to Southeast Asia to see about living in that region of the world.  Went basically everywhere – Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Lao.  Liked them all.  However, Thailand was my favorite.  It was my first trip EVER to the Kingdom.  Arrived on a SETV issued at Kuala Lumpur.  Extended it once for 30 days.  Left exactly on my 90th day – July 24th, 2019.  Traveled around Asia some more.  I then came back to the US a few weeks ago at end of October to tidy up a few loose ends and sell my home.

 

Going forward, January and February of each year will always be in the USA.  My parents are 79 and 81.  I’m their only child.  I like to see them for a few months each year during their birthdays.  So, that leaves 10 months of the year March – December that I would like to spend oversees.  I would like to spend a sizable chunk of that time in Thailand, if possible. For the remainder of the 10 months, I will happily go to some other countries in the region and enjoy those places for some variety. 

 

Due to my parent’s advancing age and the potential need to return to the US permanently if health concerns develop, the Thai Elite Visa is not a good fit at this time.  Maybe in the future…

 

For now, I’ll be working within the confines of the current SETV & Visa Exempt entry process (and immigration’s increased enforcement).    

All that said, here’s the criteria:

 

  • I want to spend as much of the 10 months (March-December) in Thailand as possible.
  • I WILL repeat the same plan in the coming years…2021, 2022, 2023, etc., so this is not a “one time” plan for 2020.   It is about sustainability year after year.  That’s the KEY.
  • I am NOT interested in pushing the boundaries so far as to get denied entry. 
  • I am NOT interested in getting sent back on some unplanned return flight and sitting in a detention center. 
  • I am NOT interested in going to all different kinds of embassies and consulates in neighboring countries to try to obtain visa after visa. 

 

So, with the criteria above, what is the maximum safe stay in Thailand that I can get away with each year and not have problems with Thai immigration? 

 

Please tell me your choice and why.  

 

NOTE:  I will always arrive on a SETV issued in my home country (USA).

 

1.      SETV, Enter & Extend = 3 months in country

2.      SETV, Enter & Extend.  1 land border bounce = 4 months in country

3.      SETV, Enter & Extend.  1 land border bounce & extend = 5 months in country

4.      SETV, Enter & Extend. 2 land border bounces & 1 extend = 6 months in country

5.      SETV, Enter & Extend.  2 land border bounces & 2 extend = 7 months in country

Edited by Spodal

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We didn't hear of problems getting visa exempts at land borders yet (just avoid the Poipet crossing), so all of your options will work.

After you have been 5 months out of Thailand you should also not have a problem entering at an Airport.

But looking at how the regulations change, and since you don't have any ties to Thailand yet: If i were you i would stay flexible and not focus on Thailand, spend time in other countries as well

Edited by jackdd

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I understand that you might be unable to make full use of it, but I believe a 20-year Thailand Elite visa has a lot to recommend it in your case if you want to be confident of executing your plan. If you feel that Thailand would be nice, but other countries in the region also OK, maybe rely on the tourist visa lottery, but then avoid putting down roots in Thailand, making sure you are always ready for a potential denied entry.

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Its obvious OP. Put hand in pocket and buy an elite. Other options will require ongoing pain.

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Thanks to all those who have replied.  All advice is appreciated :). I personally can't see that a 20 year EV makes sense.  In just 7 years, I could easily quality for an O-A.  EV 5 year is a close call, I do agree.  However, if I could just as easily spend 4-5 months a year in Thailand with 1 easily obtained SETV (in my home country) and do 1 land border bounce, is it worth it to get a 5 year EV?  I tend to think not.   As per my post, I don't have my heart set on spending the full 10 months in Thailand.  The longest option I've proposed is 7 months annually (1 SETV, 2 land bounces, & extensions).  If that pushes the boundaries too much when done on an annual basis, that's ok.  No objections.   But what then are the lower limits which are still doable?  Are we at the point where just one SETV and 1 extension (90 days total) is really all that you can get away with in a year?   

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Have you considered a METV. That 6 plus couple of visa exempt border entries. Easily done.

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METV poses a problem per the Thai Embassy in Washington DC.  Requires either of the items below related to employment or businesses.  I truly am retired (no LLCs, side businesses, etc.).  Therefore, METV is not an option. 

 

Just to remind folks here, I don't have my heart set on 7 months in Thailand each year.  Yes, the more, the better.  However, I am just really trying to find out what is a "safe" amount of time to spend in the Kingdom on an annual basis?  If the answer is just one SETV and one extension (90 days) or one SETV and 1 border bounce (120 days), I am ok with that.  I am not objecting.  I will simply allocate more time to another destination.  I am not looking to push the limits, only to understand what they are.  Are we at the point where just one SETV and 1 extension (90 days total) is really all that you can get away with in a year?   

 

8. A letter proof of employment ( **we don’t accept pay stubs**)

10.For self-employed, business license or business registration indicating the applicant’s name

 

Edited by Spodal

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@Spodal

 

Don't forget that the O-A Visa now requires you to purchase health insurance from a THAI company on the approved list, so factor that into your financial calculation.

 

My previous 5 entries on SETV were not extended, I spent about half the year in Thailand and half in my home country, when I entered on my Non 0 Single Entry 3 weeks ago, the Immigration Officer said she might not have let me in on a Tourist Visa.

 

Things are changing.

 

The 20 year Thailand Elite Visa at 1 million Baht would seem to suit you best.

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45 minutes ago, DrJack54 said:

Have you considered a METV. That 6 plus couple of visa exempt border entries. Easily done.

 

14 minutes ago, The Fat Controller said:

@Spodal

 

Don't forget that the O-A Visa now requires you to purchase health insurance from a THAI company on the approved list, so factor that into your financial calculation.

 

My previous 5 entries on SETV were not extended, I spent about half the year in Thailand and half in my home country, when I entered on my Non 0 Single Entry 3 weeks ago, the Immigration Officer said she might not have let me in on a Tourist Visa.

 

Things are changing.

 

The 20 year Thailand Elite Visa at 1 million Baht would seem to suit you best.

Indeed things may be changing and that's ok.   If the new reality is that using multiply SETV is just not permissible, I can live with that.  I don't have my heart set on a firm 4, 5 or 6 months per year in Thailand.  If that were doable with SETVs and a combination of border bounces, I'd do it.   If not, I won't plan it or even attempt it.  In that case, I will just incorporate Thailand as one of several countries I'll visit on my annual 10 month trip to Asia.  That seems to be what people are saying.  If you want to visit annually to Thailand now, you can only count on one SETV being honored in a calendar year?  Is that correct? 

Edited by Spodal

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Just my opinion, it seems to be the cumulative time in the country that is the issue, once you near 180 days trying to effectively live half the year in Thailand, then your "tourist" status comes under more scrutiny.

 

Especially true of the bright people that put "Live in Pattaya" on their social media profiles !

 

 

Edited by The Fat Controller
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Glad to hear someone going into the details before they come to Thailand - well done mate.

I think Ubon Joe's advice is the best - 5 years Elite - no hassles and very flexible - sound like you can afford it.

 

My advice is more in general - I know you didnt ask - but just in case:

1.  Keep your money in USA - only transfer/take to Thailand what you need.

2.  Do you want kids? If not - then get a vasectomy - now.  I know two of them and hear about so many Expats who 'fall' and before they know it they are supporting a family (years later it is - what the **** happened?) Do not think you are smarter or better or cleverer than anyone else on this issue - you are a male.

3.  Do not buy any property in Thailand for a while - rent only - and try various cities after a year or two in each - only buy when things are finished back home with the parents etc. and you have settled down.

4.  When staying here do not argue or insult any Thai person - just smile and agree.

5.  Join Expat clubs and get socially involved in something (golf for me) - dont spend 24x7 on forums - make a life.

6.  Keep open the option of starting a business or getting a job - best way to keep body and mind active.

7.  Get health insurance for each visit - good travel insurance from USA for a tourist in Thailand.

 

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17 minutes ago, The Fat Controller said:

Just my opinion, it seems to be the cumulative time in the country that is the issue, once you near 180 days trying to effectively live half the year in Thailand, then your "tourist" status comes under more scrutiny.

 

Especially true of the bright people that put "Live in Pattaya" on their social media profiles !

 

 

Appreciate you offering up your insights.  Personally, I just don't want to deal with the inconvenience of being denied entry, an unplanned return flight, etc., etc.  It's simply not worth it to me.   If the standard for immigration scrutiny is now staying in country close to 180 days in a calendar year, I'll give that threshold a wide berth.  That would, however, seem to still allow individuals to exercise one SETV and 1 extension (90 days total) per calendar year?  Does anyone on this forum have reason to believe that one SETV and 1 extension (90 days per calendar year) is too much?  Can we do that once annually, on a repeated basis, without expecting problems from immigration?

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As you do not want to deal with possible denial of entry you need to either reduce your time in Thailand or go for 5 year Elite.

 

People staying more than 6 months of the year in Thailand on tourist visas or combo of TV and visa exempt do risk getting denied. Doesn't happen to everyone but does happen to some and we get reports of this frequently enough.

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25 minutes ago, AussieBob18 said:

Glad to hear someone going into the details before they come to Thailand - well done mate.

I think Ubon Joe's advice is the best - 5 years Elite - no hassles and very flexible - sound like you can afford it.

 

My advice is more in general - I know you didnt ask - but just in case:

1.  Keep your money in USA - only transfer/take to Thailand what you need.

2.  Do you want kids? If not - then get a vasectomy - now.  I know two of them and hear about so many Expats who 'fall' and before they know it they are supporting a family (years later it is - what the **** happened?) Do not think you are smarter or better or cleverer than anyone else on this issue - you are a male.

3.  Do not buy any property in Thailand for a while - rent only - and try various cities after a year or two in each - only buy when things are finished back home with the parents etc. and you have settled down.

4.  When staying here do not argue or insult any Thai person - just smile and agree.

5.  Join Expat clubs and get socially involved in something (golf for me) - dont spend 24x7 on forums - make a life.

6.  Keep open the option of starting a business or getting a job - best way to keep body and mind active.

7.  Get health insurance for each visit - good travel insurance from USA for a tourist in Thailand.

 

Good comments here-We have all generally have had problems with Thai Visa's, from Tourist/O-A/O, etc. (Not too many problems with Elite) now dealing with the TM30, Insurance and Banking $$$$$$ for retirement visa's and who knows what will be the next requirement!! Pick a Visa and deal with it when you Arrive/Depart or procure an Elite. Good Luck.

Regards,

Dan747

 

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