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Bank Accounts are Now a Necessity for Marriage Visas in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing about bank accounts in association with the Thai O marriage visa.  There are other videos on this channel where we discuss this issue at length. Most notably it has come to my attention that bank accounts are almost an absolute necessity now with respect to Visa holders in the O category; that is O spouse visas and OA retirement visas.

The root cause of this necessity is a change in policy with respect to so-called Income Affidavits issued by Embassies here in the Kingdom for their nationals with respect to proving up income.

In the past, it was possible to get an Income Affidavit, have that Income Affidavit notarized by the Embassy and then have that notarized document legalized and translated into Thai for use as the primary basic evidence for purposes of renewing an O marriage visa. So basically one would say, “Look, I make this amount of income”, get that document notarized, get it legalized and translated, and then that document alone was enough and sufficient for Immigration Authorities to go ahead and extend an O Visa. That regime has come to an end. As of January 1, 2019, as for example the United States and the UK Embassies are no longer issuing such documentation. I believe the Australians and most of the other countries that once issued those documents are now also following suit and not doing so either.

Where does this leave marriage visas moving forward?  Well 1) I think a bank account is completely and utterly a necessity now for those who are in the Kingdom wishing to extend O visa status. Whereas before again an Income Affidavit was sufficient, now a bank account is going to be necessary to either show a lump sum amount of money, 400,000 baht, needed in a bank account to act as evidence of financial ability to support oneself or an income and the income generally speaking I believe has got to be over Bt 40,000 a month, although if I'm wrong on that number there is a certain statutorily required number, I'm just getting it off the top of my head right now. In the past, again that income could just be proven up using one’s own statement essentially, whereas now they want to see that money, some evidence of actual income. Here is the problem. Again I've gotten correspondence from individuals that are stating that they are trying to get their marriage and retirement visas extended but they have not been able to do so because the only evidence they have is income coming into a foreign account. For example, the US or if it is British Nationals, various offshore jurisdictions I've seen as well. And they have the proof; there is proof of income. The problem is the Thai Immigration Officials do not feel that income derived abroad is sufficient for proving income for purposes of extending a visa here in the Kingdom. Again, it comes down to an issue of “Can you support yourself in Thailand?”  And not having money brought into Thailand is going to prove problematic for proving that up. I liken it to issues involving the Affidavits of Support in Immigrant spousal and fiancée visas for the United States. For example the I-864 Affidavit of Support basically puts a burden of proof on a sponsor to prove that they make a certain income or have a certain amount of assets and those assets and income need to be in the United States. They want to prove an ability to financially support in the US for a host of different reasons. Thailand, it seems to be taking the same policy approach with respect to income and financial assets here in the Kingdom. They are basically taking the approach that “you need to be able to show that it's happening here in our country. You need to be able to show that income is coming into this country to be able to support yourself and support your family.”

So again this is a pretty major policy change and it's going to have some substantial ramifications in a practical context upon people who are trying to renew or extend their O visa and it also basically makes a bank account an utter necessity here in the Kingdom and for those who are just applying for their O visa for the first time, this can prove to be kind of a catch-22. Often times, banks won't allow individuals that are on, for example a 30-day visa exemption stamp, to even open a bank account.  So it becomes somewhat problematic as to how you get the initial O visa to then go ahead and turn around and get a bank account that can be then needed to extend said visa. There are various strategies and methodologies for dealing with that. I recommend that those who are interested contact our office, we can provide some insight into that. But moving forward I think that this is going to be the regime we need to deal with respect to the issuance and extension of Thai O marriage visas.