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Spodal

5 Visa Options. Which Is Best? Seeking Advice

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7 minutes ago, Sheryl said:

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.

While understanding that you do not speak as an official of Thai immigration, I nonetheless appreciate the clarity you have offered.  Thank you.  It appears that the "magic" red flag number seems to be around 180 days/6 months in Thailand per calendar year.  At that point, immigration's heighten scrutiny of one's motives and activities kicks in and there exists an elevated risk of denial of entry.   If others agree with that assessment, please chime in!   The more consensus, the merrier!

 

In the mean time, let's step back a moment.  IF that assessment IS correct (i.e. 180 days = potential trouble)-- and let's just be purely hypothetical here --- is it fair to say that the following 3 scenarios are all equal then? 

 

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

 

In other words, option 1, 2, or 3 should be ok? At this point, I am not confident that I would pursue anything beyond one SETV and one extension (90 days total) for 2020.  However, I'd like to know if #2 and #3 are still in the "in the green" -- so to speak?

 

 

 

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If this is not obvious to you, be aware that the unofficial rules on use of tourist visas and visa exempt entries is subject to change at any time. Maybe, certain airports will start using stricter criteria. Maybe (though I doubt it) long term tourists will once again be welcomed.

 

The reason I suggested the 20-year Thailand Elite is because it almost certainly means you will not need to worry about rules changes for a long time. Although it is a substantial chunk of change up front, 50,000 baht a year for peace of mind on visa issues does not seem excessive, and will allow you to dispense with border runs and extensions just for the sake of extending your stay (which themselves involve cost). The main reason for ruling out the Thailand Elite option would be a fear that you might change your mind about wanting to spend substantial time here. Obviously, that makes the up front cost a much greater consideration.

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1 hour ago, Spodal said:

While understanding that you do not speak as an official of Thai immigration, I nonetheless appreciate the clarity you have offered.  Thank you.  It appears that the "magic" red flag number seems to be around 180 days/6 months in Thailand per calendar year.  At that point, immigration's heighten scrutiny of one's motives and activities kicks in and there exists an elevated risk of denial of entry.   If others agree with that assessment, please chime in!   The more consensus, the merrier!

 

In the mean time, let's step back a moment.  IF that assessment IS correct (i.e. 180 days = potential trouble)-- and let's just be purely hypothetical here --- is it fair to say that the following 3 scenarios are all equal then? 

 

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

 

In other words, option 1, 2, or 3 should be ok? At this point, I am not confident that I would pursue anything beyond one SETV and one extension (90 days total) for 2020.  However, I'd like to know if #2 and #3 are still in the "in the green" -- so to speak?

 

 

 

You seem flexible enough so for now you will have no problem with the above options. 5 months is very doable.

Good luck.

 

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2 minutes ago, BritTim said:

If this is not obvious to you, be aware that the unofficial rules on use of tourist visas and visa exempt entries is subject to change at any time. Maybe, certain airports will start using stricter criteria. Maybe (though I doubt it) long term tourists will once again be welcomed.

 

The reason I suggested the 20-year Thailand Elite is because it almost certainly means you will not need to worry about rules changes for a long time. Although it is a substantial chunk of change up front, 50,000 baht a year for peace of mind on visa issues does not seem excessive, and will allow you to dispense with border runs and extensions just for the sake of extending your stay (which themselves involve cost). The main reason for ruling out the Thailand Elite option would be a fear that you might change your mind about wanting to spend substantial time here. Obviously, that makes the up front cost a much greater consideration.

Good points, insight, and advice all around.  There may, in fact, be a time in the future where the Elite option makes sense.  I have not ruled it out.  However, for several reasons, I don't think that time is now -- if for no other reason than I have not spent enough time in the country of Thailand to make a determinitive decision for the long term.  While I greatly enjoyed my initial 90 day stay there in 2019, that doesn't (in my book) form a sound basis for making a 5 or 20 year long-term commitment.  Then again, I have been accused by a woman or two over the years of having "commitment issues." 😉 Haha. All joking aside, I do thank everyone for their advice. 

 

The real question at this point seems to be what is the maximum (per annual) length of stay using SETV/VE entries (until such time as a more firm decision might be made to pursue the Elite option).   The consensus here seems to be that 180 days/6 months is the absolute limit.  I can and do accept those limitations -- no problem.  The question now is simply how much of a "safety margin" a person like me should give even that 180 day threshold.  As mentioned, I really have no desire to be denied entry, go through that inconvenience, etc.  That as the case, what I keep asking is if the 3 options shown below are therefore all acceptable since they are all < 180 days. 

 

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

 

We are talking 3, 4, or 5 months.  Pick your flavor.  If the only "safe" option these days in Thailand is one SETV with a single extension (90 days total), that's how I'll plan the 2020 trip.  However, if options #2 and #3 (for 4 & 5 months, respectively) are also "safe" options, I'll plan the 2020 trip that way.  Thanks in advance for opinions on this more narrow question -- the information I really need at this point in time.

 

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Spodal said:

Good points, insight, and advice all around. 

 

I think the general consensus is that if you spend less than 6 months in Thailand on a tourist visa, you are safe at least for the first year.

 

Off-topic, you said you have travelled to many countries in Asia, mind listing in points form why is Thailand your favorite country versus other countries?

 

Edited by EricTh
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2 hours 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.

 

Well written and great advice 🙂 

 

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2 hours ago, Spodal said:

  l in the "in the green" -- so to speak?

 

 

 

For what it's worth my read of people that have had 30 day visa exempt/waiver problems has been that they used 99% of the validity of each  (& subsequent ) visits.

Spent 5 months there in 2017.2+1 then 2 months.Still got q? by Immigration on the last leg.

What is the visa waiver equivalent for US passport holders in Malaysia ? 90 days for Aussies.Not sure how often that could be pushed.Johor Bahru just across from Singapore possibly do-able for me.With visits frequently across the border, like many Malays.Or the Elite I guess.

'Luck.

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5 hours ago, Spodal said:

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.

As some statements made above, The only pain free solution is still the 20 year TE visa.... 
Today's situation with all changes, enforcements, requirements and additional rules coming up + the constant worry if coming in Thailand over a prolonged period of time on a Tourist visa....( even genuine tourist , long stayers, are getting scrutinised or rejected and even put in detention... )

I did put my bet on a 20 year visa and i don't feel any regrets, seem all changes taken place the last year...

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6 hours ago, Spodal said:

In other words, option 1, 2, or 3 should be ok? At this point, I am not confident that I would pursue anything beyond one SETV and one extension (90 days total) for 2020.  However, I'd like to know if #2 and #3 are still in the "in the green" -- so to speak?

As long as you don´t spend more than 180 days per year you´ll be fine so any combination of SETVs and land border bounces with/without extension will work. Just stay under 180 days. Anything over that and there is a high chance you will run into some kind of trouble. So either stay under 180 days or consider the 5 year Elite visa for maximum flexibility and no hassles if you can easily afford it. Maybe do it with tourist visas next year and decide after you´ve spend some more time in Thailand how you´ll proceed.

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8 hours ago, Spodal said:

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?

Dad has been doing 3 x 59 days per year for more than 10 years at least, but he is 85 now so surely not suspected of working!

2 entry TVs  initially then the system changed and used non-O MEs, now back to 3 x SETV

Per 12 months, 59days, 2 months back to UK, and repeat. Hope he does not get any hassle, I think his trips to Thailand are good especially in the winter...

Thailand makes a great first impression, but dad says he would not move here, as it would then become routine...

If not elite, perhaps Phillipines/Thailand combo (even Japan in the spring perhaps).

Edited by UKresonant

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Simple fact is Thailand doesn't have a "permanent retirement" solution. Period.

 

I give live with the requirements as they are currently but realistically should you be making this a home base?

 

No. We are not citizens, have little rights, and are not only subject to changes but whoever's interpretation of it.

 

Myself, exploring other options...

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11 hours ago, Sheryl said:

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.

 

9 hours ago, rhodie said:

You seem flexible enough so for now you will have no problem with the above options. 5 months is very doable.

Good luck.

 

 

4 hours ago, ananda23 said:

As long as you don´t spend more than 180 days per year you´ll be fine so any combination of SETVs and land border bounces with/without extension will work. Just stay under 180 days. Anything over that and there is a high chance you will run into some kind of trouble. So either stay under 180 days or consider the 5 year Elite visa for maximum flexibility and no hassles if you can easily afford it. Maybe do it with tourist visas next year and decide after you´ve spend some more time in Thailand how you´ll proceed.

 

It's Morning here in the USA now & I'm back on the forum reading the overnight comments.  Thanks again to all who have posted their insights and opinions.  One things seems clear:  6 months/180 days appears to be the absolute annual limit on SETV/VE combinations.  For that reason, I'm ruling out any stays beyond that time frame.  No problems.....no objections.  At the same time, I am also ruling out the Elite option in the near term (2-3 year horizon).  Yes, I can afford it -- but I don't see it as a good fit now for at least 3 reasons:

 

  • Not enough time spent in Thailand yet to make a long-term, 5 or 20 year commitment
  • Aging parents in the USA: 79 and 81, possibly necessitating a return to the US within the next 5 years
  • I'm just not sure I will ever want to "live" in Thailand along the lines of how some people use the EV.  Certainly I have ZERO intention, for example, of ever buying property in the country, ever starting a business there, or putting down roots.  I like to visit each year for an extended period, but I don't want to "live" in Thailand.

So, here's our verdict so far:

  • Visits beyond 180 days = Off the table
  • EV for now = Off the table

That means the 2020, 2021, and 2022 annual visits will be:

  • 90 days < My Annual Visit < 180 days.

The million dollar question for which there seems to be less consensus is whether you can pull of a repeated (i.e. one time annual visit) of 4 or 5 months (instead of a simple 90 day SETV & extend). Do we have any more opinions on the feasibility of either of the two items below?

 

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

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

 

I should note that my arrival into Thailand will likely NOT be via either of the Bangkok airports.  I tend to like the Northern part of Thailand & Issan the best.  Therefore, I can easily plan my annual trips to arrive into the Chiang Mai airport directly (on an international flight).  Or, alternatively, I can easily plan to fly directly to Vientiane, grab a few day's rest, and transit into Thailand annually via the Nong Khai land border crossing.  Likewise -- if we can get some consensus that a one time border bounce per year is ok -- I would almost certainly do that land border bounce at one of 3 locations:

  • Nong Khai
  • Mae Sai
  • Chiang Khong

 

 

 

Edited by Spodal

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14 hours ago, Spodal said:

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

 

You could open your own consulting business and put your aviation knowledge to good use and get a work visa and work permit. You Would be looking at about 110k in taxes per year to keep your company going if you know what I mean. You wouldnt need to make any money for the first few years, but as long as you are paying your taxes you can keep your work visa. 

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14 hours ago, Spodal said:

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.

Don't let what's written on their website put you off.  I don't satisfy the two requirements you quoted and I'm sure there are many more in the same boat but I was still issued a METV just a few months ago.  If the METV looks the best option for you then contact the Embassy, tell them your circumstances and see what they suggest.  Although not in the USA, it worked for me.

 

It won't eliminate any issues at airport immigration, but don't rule it out purely based on the employment requirements posted.

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1 hour ago, Spodal said:

The million dollar question for which there seems to be less consensus is whether you can pull of a repeated (i.e. one time annual visit) of 4 or 5 months (instead of a simple 90 day SETV & extend). Do we have any more opinions on the feasibility of either of the two items below?

 

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

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

Based on what I read and my recent personal trouble with immigration (and what immigration officers told me), it´s no problem to stay 180 days straight (minus a little border run in between). So you could enter on a SETV (60 days), extend at immigration (+30 days) and after that either go to a neighbouring country to get another SETV (+60 days) or just do a border bounce (+30 days), both of which you can extend again. You could even do a 2nd border bounce to get to 180 days total. As long as you stay under 180 days per year it doesn´t seem to matter how you divide it up or which combination of SETVs/visa exempt stamps you use (the only exception being that you can only enter twice a year by land on a visa exempt stamp). I don´t think this will change anytime soon as the main reason for the 180 day limit seems to be to prevent people from working and staying in Thailand full-time on tourist visas but of course TIT so nothing is ever 100% sure.

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