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The Immigration Police Method
Andy Canfield
Information Management Systems

The Immigration Police Method

(The Path)

I call this "The Path". The idea is that I walk down this path, and, hopefully, I get to where I want to be. But it may not specify exactly when I will get there. There may be alternate paths, there may be detours, here may be glitches. I shall follow The Path as best I can and hope for the best.

Actually this page is misnamed. It ought to read "Methods" (plural), not "Method" (singular). That is because I have talked to the Immigration Police and they tell me what I have to do to become a Thai citizen. And every story starts with the words "Can not". Then they go on to figure out what I must do, and every story is different. This page reports the best of my information.

Where Am I So Far

So far, I have gotten the initial non-immigrant 'O' visa. It will last until late June. By that time I need to learn how to get a one year extension. I plan to not go on any 'visa run' ever again.


Here are the instructions that one officer brought up on her web site and printed for me. There is an English translation at The HTML Version
This is the version as images: The JPG Version

The Visa

As I understand it, I have to live in Thailand for three years on a single non-immigrant 'O' visa. Well, I have lived in Thailand for many years on non-immigrant 'O' visas. I would go to Vientiane and get a visa. Then I would stay in Thailand for three months. Then I would get an extension on the visa that is good for two more months. After the five months are up I would have to go to Vientiane again.

This does not satisfy the immigration police. They insist that it must be the same visa for the whole three years. They say that the way to do that is to get the visa, then get a one year extension to that visa. Next year get another one year extension. Next year get another one year extension. Eventually I will have had 3+12+12+12 = 39 months on the same visa.

The roach in the food pile is that I can get a two month extension with no argument, but it takes money to get the one year extension. How much money? That is the big question.

One Year Extension Money

Every time an immigration police officer explains to me how much money I must have to get a one year extension, the story changes. Apparently the money is in two flavors, or perhaps three.

One component of the money is money in a Thai bank. They insist that that money must stay in the bank all the time. That sounds a lot like they require my permission to check my bank balance at any time. But on the other hand I have heard of foreigners who put a large amount of money in the bank, then go to another branch and take it out. So there are games involved. How much money? The basic story is eight hundred thousand baht. I can remember when this was three hundred thousand baht; anyone who believes in eternal law is deluded. But now the requirement starts out at eight hundred thousand baht. That's about 27,000 U.S. Dollars. However, every immigration police officer has a different story about how income can trade off against that. Perhaps with a large monthly income I only need five hundred thousand baht; perhaps even less. But it must be in a Thai bank. I am not sure what kind of account;

The second component of the one year extension money is income. All the foreigners I know live on pensions paid to them from outside of Thailand. I don't know whether this component must be paid outside Thailand or whether money paid to me inside Thailand would count also. Also it can get sticky if the money is paid inside Thailand - for what? I don't have a work permit, so what is the money for? Perhaps a pension? And, again, how much is required?

If the money must be paid outside Thailand, that can be arranged. An organization can open a bank account for me at HSBC and put the money into that account each month. Then I can wire transfer it into my Thai bank account. It will be income each month, but income apparenty coming from outside of Thailand. The static money sitting in my bank account must be sitting in a Thai bank, but income from outside Thailand probably can come from anywhere outside Thailand as a wire transfer.

The Mysterious 'Money Letter'
My farang friends talk about getting a money letter. It seems to be a letter that you have to get from the United States government that says what your income is. Since the US government has no idea what your income is, it all seems to be a big delusion on the part of anyone who demands to see it (e.g. the Thai immigraion police). The usual way appears to be to lie to the US government when you tell them your income, and they will give you a money letter reflecting that lie. An alternative would seem to be to print your own money letter and give that to the Thai government instead of one given to you by the American government. But who knows? Is it "The blind leading the blind"? Or just a happy mutual delusion?

A third component of the money may be that perhaps an immigration police officer wants money to put in his pocket. I have lived in Thailand for over twenty years. If an officer askes me for money, I will give it to him, and I will not demand a receipt. But I will not offer him money. To do so is to encourage and promote corruption. I will cooperate as necessary, and will not sit in judgement, but I will not entice.

Permanent Residant

Supposedly, after I have been on a single non-immigrant visa for three years (using one year extensions), I must change my status to "permanent resident". Then after ten years I can convert permanent residence into Thai citizenship.

That's a total of thirteen years. Who was prime minister thirteen years ago? Taksin Shinawatra. Thailand has had about a dozen governments since Taksin was prime minister. If I had started this thirteen years ago, I could become a Thai citizen today, assuming that the laws did not change during those years. But of course they did. At the very least I am sure that three hundred thousand baht has turned into eight hundred thousand baht since then. I got my 'final' non-immigrant 'O' visa on April 22, 2015. What is the likelihood that the laws will be the same on April 22, 2028? Very small.

And as yet I know nothing about the laws regarding permanent residence. Maybe I have to have a hundred million British pounds in a Cambodian bank account - I don't know. And given that we are talking about future Thai politics, there is no way to predict what the law will be.