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For foreign retirees in Thailand, the bureaucratic red tape continues to exist

This year, International Living travel magazine ranked the Kingdom of Thailand in 11th place out of a total of 25 places in the most desirable countries for retirement. Despite this ranking, there are still rules and conditions that make it difficult for foreigners to stay here.  

For example, foreigners with a visa for one or more years must still report to Immigration every 90 days, and foreigners with a non-immigrant O or non-immigrant OA visa extension due to retirement cannot get a job in Thailand. This is bad news for retirees who still want to do some kind of part-time work for fun.

An immigration chief spoke to the Bangkok Post and said this is because work permits are only issued to permanent residents or those with non-immigrant B visas, which are issued to foreigners wishing to work in Thailand.

The quota for the number of people who receive permanent residency every year is 100 per nationality, he said. Even foreigners who have lived and worked in the country for more than 10 years are not entitled to health care and other government benefits if they do not change their nationality.

Foreigners who are married to Thais and have a non-immigrant O visa extension because of their marriage must renew their visas every year. If their Thai spouse dies, they can apply to extend their stay in Thailand for childcare. If they don’t have children, they have to look for other reasons to stay, such as work or retirement.

Foreigners married to Thais can apply for Thai citizenship, but the process for foreign men married to Thai women is more complicated than for foreign women married to Thai men. Foreign men must meet the requirements of Thai language proficiency, have a steady job, obtain approval from the Minister of the Interior, and have lived in the country for five years.

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