Anytime Thai immigration comes out with an announcement, expats seem to get in a tizzy. In the latest example of this, expats all over Thailand are freaking out about the newly announced 10-year visa for retirees. Will it replace the one year visa? Is it an alternative? Whatever will I do? Save me Duddly Do-Right, save me!
The first step in dealing with any issue is to remain calm. Look at the information presented, decide if the information is sufficient to make a decision, and proceed accordingly. However, when it comes to Thai immigration, announcements often are made prior to all of the necessary facts being presented to make an informed decision.
To qualify for a ten year visa, or the 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 visa is 10,000 baht.
The ten year visa has yet to be finalized by the Ministry of Interior Affairs. No immigration officials have publicly stated the one year visa available will be done away with and most immigration offices outside of Thailand know nothing about the new visa. Or should I say, the possible new visa. Anything can happen and there is always the chance immigration will simply drop the idea of the longer visa. Or it might not. or it might. Right now, it's all speculation so instead of expats getting their panties in a bunch, how about taking a deep breath and gobbling a few chill pills.
In my opinion, it is unlikely Thai immigration is going to do away with the current one year visa. If they do, those currently on one year extension of stays will probably be grandfathered. In other words, as long as they qualify, they continue receiving one extension of stays. Should they leave and let the extension expire, they may have to qualify under the guidelines of the ten year visa...if it is put in place...and of course, only if the one year visa is done away with.
If, if, if, if...until there is a formal announcement from immigration stating the one year visa is no more and all retirees must now qualify for a ten year visa, relax! I always thought being retired meant less worrying. The truth is, no matter what the situation, there will always be people freaking out when they probably should just chill out.
What is the worst that will happen? Go home foreigner. Unlikely. Move to another country. Possible. Not so bad really, the new destination might even end up being better than Thailand. Maybe some expats will be branded one year expats and thus be known as those with less money. So what? Is it really that bad? If you're thinking of moving here, I would not let this stop me. In fact, get in now while the going is good and you might be grandfathered. Then again, you might want to start thinking of life in the Philippines, Cambodia, Costa Rica Ecuador, Portugal...it's a big world with a little dough coming in, there are plenty of places to have a great life.