After several days of confusion, a senior officer at Immigration today explained clearly the way the rules on retirement visa extensions will be handled from now on.
Lt Col Napat Nusen insisted that nothing has changed. However, rules will, it seems, be interpreted more tightly.
For couples where one spouse (usually the husband) applies for a Non-Immigrant visa one-year extension, the wife (whether she is over or under 50 years of age) may receive a “follower” permit to stay in Thailand without having to show income or a specific amount in a bank account.
However, the husband must be able to show that he has a minimum income of B65,000 a month (attested to by his country’s embassy) or B800,000 in a Thai bank.
The bank account must be in his name alone. If it is a joint account it must hold double the amount – B1.6 million.
If the wife is over 50 and prefers not to have “follower” status but wishes to get an extension on the basis of being a retiree herself, then she must make a separate application for extension and must meet the same financial criteria as her husband – income of B65,000 a month or her own bank account with B800,000 in it.
If the couple both apply for retirement visas and share a joint account in Thailand, the account must contain B1.6 million.
Col Napat said, “Nothing has been changed. It has been the same since 2008. A wife can still use the same type of follower visa as before if her husband applies for a Non-immigrant O visa.”
In the past, The Phuket News understands, some wives were allowed “follower” extensions even though the bank account used to back the application was a joint on and contained only B800,000. From now on the “joint account = B1.6 million” rule will be applied with no exceptions.
Applicants, whatever the approach they take, must be able to show that the money has been in the account or accounts for at least two months for the first extension application, and for three months for subsequent applications, backed by a letter of confirmation from the bank.