I have to admit, I was getting a little panicky about the Thai visa process. It seems they change the rules on an irregular basis, on top of the fact that I received some very questionably advice from a company I was counting on to shepherd me through the process of applying for a 1-year retirement visa.
I was even reconsidering Philippines as a destination, or even back to Indonesia. Th government has even recently changed the additional days you can get an extension by making a border run, from 30 days to 15 days, making that option almost meaningless. So, if a workable solution to my situation couldn’t be found, I was planning on making a hasty getaway when my 30 days are up.
Enter Legal Services Hua Hin to the rescue. After a few emails with their English-speaking Westerner contact person, an appointment was made with the owner, David Martin, today to assess my options. Once I made the walk to the highway in the hot midday sun (in long pants and regular shoes), I waved dwn a motorcycle taxi, showed him the address and was on my way, going early because of all the problems I’ve had finding things here.
A 50 baht ride later, there was no problem finding the office. David was prepared for me with three options. He actually went to my aimlink.com site to research me.
Option 2: Go to Laos or Cambodia to … blah, blah, blah. Nope. not doing that. Goingto yet another unfamiliar country to handle this process sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.
Option 3: Here, the law firm’s representative and I would simply go to the local immigration office and offer a bribe of $800-1,000. You ask them how much and it usually works out to about that amount.
OK, option 1: First, I need to go to the Hua Hin immigration office before my tourist visa expires and ask for a 30-day extension, which should be a formality. Then, before that 30 days is up, I have to go to Bangkok, stay a night and in the morning go to the American Embassy. Here I will request a certificate saying I have at least $2,100 in guaranteed monthly income. I only have $1,700 guaranteed but David didn’t think that would be a problem, especially in that by that time I will have the 800,000 baht deposited in my Thai bank account, which is an alternate financial guarantee they ask for.
Then I come back to Hua Hin and David’s people will assist me with going through immigration for 3,000 baht ($100), plus incidental visa fees. Then I’m given a 90-day visa as I wait for approval. After that, I have to check in with immigration every 90 days, and at the end of the year, I have to go through the whole process again – from scratch.
The trip to Bangkok is not too much trouble or expense. Decent hotels can be had for under $20/night, bus fare to and from is about $3 each way, and what am I going to do with my time anyway?
Here’s the contact information for Legal Services: Email; Tel: +66 818 469 193; 58/164 Soi 4, Hua Hin 77110.
Feeling a little bit better about my situation, but still some work to do.