Married Expats - Show Us The Money!
Changing Times For Thailand's Expats
Two days ago on the 31st of August 2007 the new face of Thailand's immigration policy has shown itself. Almost all the expat forums about Thailand are buzzing about it. Here's why...
Previously Expats over 50 years old and married to a non-thai spouse could declare their spouse and any kids as 'dependants.' This effectively meant that they only had to prove they had 'one' source of income coming into Thailand and a lump sum in a thai bank to meet the non-immigrant 'O' 'Retirement visa'. This was 65,000 baht per month and a lump sum of 800,000 baht respectively.
Now the requirement has suddenly changed. The dependants are now no longer considered dependants. They now must also meet the Retirement visas requirements. Effectively this means that the wife of an expat now has to prove that she has separate money coming in and can no longer rely off her husbands money. In other words the thai retirement visas financial requirements have DOUBLED! What's more is that the foreign kids they have are also no longer permitted to extensions of stay an more. They too are subject to meeting separate criteria for visas!
Now I've been about a bit and straight away realised that either the Immigration authorities have developed a warped sense of humour towards scaring expats, or they don't want foreign expats bringing up foreign kids in Thailand.
Some have speculated that it's all about trying to bring more money into Thailand. Well that's a fair comment except for two reasons. Firstly, it's now having the effect of pushing out the very expats that Thailand's been desiring in the first place!
I'm 'down' with keeping a country's bloodline strong and stopping armies of Immigrants taking local folks jobs away. It may sound right-wing but unless you're in your ivory castle and are unaffected by immigration then this is how you'll think, period. It's happened to a great extent in Europe and maybe that's part of the Juntas reasoning. Fair enough, but at least they should show some respect and understanding to the poor expats who have no home left to go to if they sell up and leave go elsewhere. Singletons who are in the money may do it with ease, but married expats who are low on money with young kids in tow will struggle on this one! Even the madcap BNP party (righter than right wing!) have pledged that they'll give relocation funds to non-ethnic British groups they'd deport if they got in power! Are the expats in Thailand going to get similar assistance? Are they thump!
I was one of many expats who hurrahed the overthrow of the TRT partys' Thaksin 'The Toxin' Shinawata that were in power. Unfortunately, it looks as though the generals have shown their true xenophobic colours and want to slam the doors in the married expats faces unless they 'Show Us The Money!'
Now I'm a single kind of guy who has been in Thailand since 2000 but even I'm shocked at the draconian move. The new law is specifically not allowing any existing retirement visas to be 'grand-fathered' in to get around the law and it is going to be announced in the next ten days officially what the exact ins and outs are. Some are hoping for it to be U-turned but the prognosis looks to grim folks.
All I can say is what I always say when crazy thai laws have us farang dancing to new tune - "These are interesting times, have your horse saddled and ready to ride!"
This section is hosted by our resident columnist Johnny B. who has been living in Thailand for seven years now and currently is based out of Bangkok.