Either what you read online about obtaining a long-stay retirement visa for Thailand is really outdated or I’m totally misunderstanding the process. When I originally researched Thai visas, the retirement visa requirements that I found, including on the Thai Embassy in the U.S. website, said you had to start the process within your home country, at the Thai Embassy.
So I downloaded the paperwork, filled out the forms and was ready to mail them in, along with a payment, when I realized that the holidays would prevent the process to be completed before I was to leave for Bangkok Jan. 6. Changing my departure date was possible but expensive.
I reread the correspondence I had prior regarding help with the visa process in Thailand. One of the companies was saying on its website that they could get you through the process even if you were already in Thailand, effectively eliminating the need to go through the U.S. Thai Embassy.
So I signed on to use their service, although I fortunately didn’t give them any money. But I was back and forth with the managing director about what I needed when I arrived, with the understanding I was headed for Hua Hin as soon as the process was completed.
I was told I needed a Thai bank account, which I knew, but I couldn’t open one unless I was physically in Thailand. And when I opened one, I couldn’t transfer the necessary money unless I was in the U.S. Not being able to be in two places at once, I gave my daughter my power of attorney, which I needed to do anyway, so that she could make the transfer.
I also needed a 6-month rental agreement, which I have in Hua Hin.
Throughout all this, however, my consultant in Bangkok never said that if my rental and bank account were in Hua Hin then I would have to do the visa application in Hua Hin. I’m not sure why it matters but apparently I have to go to immigration here in Hua Hin and make my application. My Bangkok consultant says he has a partner here who can help.
I also accidentally found a Hua Hin law firm that handles this sort of thing. I sent them an email and received a quick response that they dealt with my situation a lot. I suspect that it will be better for me to hire someone to walk me through the process than to try and do it on my own. That was the case in Costa Rica when I applied for retirement status.
But the overriding question for me is why all the incorrect information. Nowhere did I find online that I could do this process in Hua Hin. In virtually all cases, the advice was you have to start the process in your home country. I’m so confused, but I think this will turn out to be a good thing.