Retired expats in Thailand are all talking about the newly proposed ten year O-A visa, also known as the retirement visa. The immigration department of Thailand has a habit of releasing incomplete information and this has caused quite a bit of distress among expats.
The ten year visa isn’t really a ten year visa though. It’s a five year visa that is renewed, or extended for another five year. This may seem like semantics, however, if you consider that most expats first are issued a three month O-A visa before receiving an extension of stay for one year, it becomes much more important.
Currently, in order to qualify for a ten year visa, or 5/5, applicants must be over 50. They must also either deposit three million baht in a Thai bank account or have a monthly income of at least 100,000 baht per month. Health insurance covering hospital stays with annual coverage of at least $10,000 USD is also required. The fee for this new visa has been set at 10,000 baht.
There are several unclear points contributing to the confusion, but considering nothing has been finalized yet by the Ministry of Interior Affairs, it seems premature to bemoan the negatives of the visa premature or cry about the sky falling.
Will the ten year visa replace the current one year O-A visa? Is this an option or a replacement? Many expats receive a three month O-A visa and then receive a one year extension of stay. Will the ten year visa replace one year extensions of stay granted after the initial three month visa? Will all current one year extensions be grandfathered, allowing expats to continue to receive one year extensions?
Older expats may be too old to qualify for medical coverage. Does this mean they have to pack up and go elsewhere? Will Medicare or social healthcare factor into the equation or are expats who wish to retire in Thailand forced to purchase expensive policies in order to call Thailand home? When will this visa be implemented?
Unfortunately, there are no answers to these questions. For some, the ten year visa means less hassle. For others, the visa is a representation of how money hungry the Thai government is their desire to only attract the wealthiest foreigners. The sooner the expat community gets some answers, the sooner it can breath a collective sigh of relief.