Most expatriates coming to Thailand fall in love with a local and eventually decide to get married. Many then want to obtain a non immigrant o visa or Thai marriage visa.
This can be a difficult process, but with the proper preparation it is attainable. In this article we will cover the steps needed to achieve this.
Non-Immigrant O Visa
When a foreigner marries a Thai citizen, they are eligible for the Non-Immigrant O Visa. The visa is available at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence and typically lasts for 90 days.
Those on the O Visa must report their whereabouts to the Immigration Department every 90 days. This is known as the 90-Day Reporting process and it allows the Department to keep track of those staying in Thailand. The report can be done by visiting the Immigration office in person or through a representative and it is merely a way of tracking those living in the Kingdom.
Those on an O Visa can apply for a one year extension after submitting the proper documentation to the Immigration Office. This is a good option for those who plan to live in Thailand long-term as it will allow them to work, provided they obtain a work permit. It also allows them to leave and re-enter the country without their visa being revoked.
If you have married a Thai citizen and wish to live in Thailand long-term, you will need what is commonly referred to as a Marriage Visa. This is actually a Non-Immigrant O Visa extended on the basis of marriage to a Thai national. You can obtain this type of visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country prior to traveling to Thailand, or you can apply for it inside the Kingdom once you have met the requirements.
In either case, you will be required to meet certain criteria such as proof of a valid marriage and sufficient income or assets in your bank account. You will also have to report your address or residence to the immigration office every 90 days. Many foreigners find it easier to make this report from within the country by taking a day trip to a neighbouring country that does not require an exit or re-entry stamp.
Extension of Stay
If a foreigner enters Thailand with a non-immigrant visa and becomes legally married to a Thai national they can apply for an extension of stay within ninety days of their visa expiry. This allows them to stay for a full year without the need to leave the country. Immigration authorities will insist that the couple demonstrate their financial means by showing a monthly income of 40,000 or 400,000 baht in a bank account.
Unlike business or ED visas, this marriage visa has the added advantage of allowing the holder to open a bank account and start working in the country. It also makes the holder eligible to get a work permit and saves them the trouble of reporting to the immigration office every 90 days.
Just like with the retirement visa, an extension can be applied for from inside Thailand, but it is still advisable to start planning ahead and prepare all required documents well in advance. This way the couple can avoid the stress of frantically running to the border at the last minute and having to pay an exorbitant fee for an emergency exit.
A re-entry permit allows you to leave Thailand for a short period of time and return without your visa becoming invalid. It’s especially important for holders of the one year marriage visa who want to travel or have an emergency and must leave the country.
The process to obtain a re-entry permit is simple, but the wait time can vary from a few minutes to several hours depending on the number of people waiting in line. To avoid this, it’s advisable to apply for a re-entry permit at the local Thai immigration office a day or two before you depart on your trip.
When you are going through immigration on your departure day, be sure to politely tell the officer that you have a re-entry permit and hand them your passport open to show them the re-entry stamp. If you don’t do this, your visa may be revoked and you will be responsible for the 500 THB overstay fee per day.