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Applying for Permanent Residence in Thailand

Last updated: 5 Feb 2024
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Applying for Permanent Residence in Thailand

Given the often onerous and time-consuming process of applying for and renewing visas in order to remain in Thailand legally, a question frequently put to us by some of our foreign clients is whether or not to apply for permanent resident status or PR.

Officially classified as a resident’s visa or a residence permit by the Thai authorities, the status enables the holder, with some caveats, to remain in Thailand on a permanent basis without the need to regularly apply for visas or extensions of stay. There are, in addition, some other advantages, which will be more fully explored below.

The Pros and Cons of Permanent Residence

The advantages of PR status can broadly be described as follows:


  • The ability to be listed in a household registration (AKA Blue Book or Tabien Baan), obviating the need for a residence certificate when applying for a work permit, opening a bank account, applying for a driving license, etc.
  • Bank loans from Thai banks could be possible for permanent residents.
  • The ability to purchase a condominium without the need to prove the funds were transferred into Thailand from a foreign jurisdiction.
  • Eligibility to apply for Thai citizenship following a period of 5 years holding the status.
  • No requirement for 90-day or TM30 reporting.
  • Eligibility for spouses and children to obtain visas based on underlying PR status.
  • Eligibility for children of a couple with PR status to obtain Thai citizenship.
  • Ability to be a director of a public company in Thailand.
  • Ability to use the Thai National immigration line when entering or exiting Thailand

Permanent residents in Thailand, however, in contrast to many other jurisdictions that grant similar types of status, do not share many of the same fundamental rights as Thai citizens. The main limitations are as follows:

  • PR does not provide the right to buy land in Thailand.

  • A work permit is still required for employment (albeit without the accompanying visa requirement).

  • A re-entry permit is still required before leaving and re-entering Thailand.

  • Absence from Thailand for more than 364 consecutive days will result in the status is automatically revoked.

  • A notification to the local police is required every 5 years.

Requirements for application

The fundamental requirement to apply for PR status is the holding of a valid work permit and non-immigrant visa, with an extension of stay of a minimum of 3 consecutive years based on that particular visa. The extension of stay must be valid at the time of the application.

Beyond that requirement, there are currently 5 separate categories, any one of which is capable of establishing eligibility:

  • Employment – general requirements include running a business in an approved position and category or working for a company in Thailand with a minimum salary of 80,000 THB for at least 2 years prior to the application. Employment with the same company for at least a year is also required. However, we recommend working for a company in Thailand with a minimum salary of 80,000 THB for at least 3 years at the same company prior to the application.

  • Humanitarian/Family – Being married to a Thai citizen for at least 2 years and being the biological parent of a Thai child. Generally, requires supporting documentation in relation to spouse and DNA testing.

  • Investment – Investing funds from a foreign source of not less than 10 million THB in Thailand. The chance of success is nearly impossible to obtain in practice.
  • Expert – Be a designated expert in a field by the Thai authorities. Again, in practice, a difficult category under which to establish eligibility.
  • Special – Granted by the Thai authorities in exceptional circumstances and unlikely to be of practical use to the majority of applicants.

 

The application process

The process can broadly be divided into 4 stages:

  • Filing – A significant amount of supporting documentation from a variety of sources (home country, employer, Thai authorities, etc.) is required at the filing stage. All documents in foreign languages must be translated into Thai and legalized by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Interview – Generally takes place a few months after filing a completed application and is conducted at the immigration office in Thai by a panel of officials. High-level knowledge or fluency in the Thai language is not required, but the applicant should, at minimum, be able to hold a basic conversation in Thai. In addition, a multiple-choice test is usually administered (in Thai) to ensure that the applicant is familiar with the fundamentals of Thai culture and the PR process itself. If an applicant cannot read Thai, an immigration officer will usually help. The interview process is filmed.

  • Evaluation – Once the interview is complete, it is sent to the Immigration Commission for review. The Commission comprises representatives from different government organizations and uses a points system to evaluate an application. There is no publicly available information on this system, but in our experience, factors that likely influence the final decision are weighted towards income, education, personal demeanor and presentation, knowledge of Thai language and culture, commitment to Thailand in terms of work or family history and an ability by the applicant to demonstrate an intention to make the country their permanent home.

  • Approval – Upon successful evaluation, an application is forwarded to the Ministry of Interior for final approval. Following this, an applicant is invited back to immigration to receive an approval letter and pay the remaining fees. The approval letter is used to obtain a ‘Certificate of Residence’ book, and detailed instructions are provided on the steps required to obtain a red ‘Alien Registration’ book, which permits the applicant to be listed in a household registration (AKA Blue Book or Tabien Baan).

Government Fees

At the time of writing, there is a non-refundable application fee of 7,600 THB, and following approval, a further 191,400 THB is payable. This fee is reduced to 95,700 for applicants with a Thai spouse or applicants under 20 years old with a parent who is a Thai citizen or a permanent resident.

Quotas

There is a limit of 100 approvals per nationality per year. In practice, this is not generally an issue since most nationalities do not fill the quota each year. To the best of our current knowledge, the only regular exceptions to this are Chinese and Indian applicants.

Timeframe

In our experience, the current timeframe from submission to approval is approximately 18 – 24 months. The immigration office, however, does not provide any definitive timeframe for approval since the final decision ultimately lies with the Ministry of Interior.

Conclusion

Applying for permanent residence status in Thailand is a long and complicated process, particularly with regard to the initial supporting paperwork, which can be confusing and time-intensive, especially given the translation, notarization, and legalization requirements. If you qualify for PR and have decided an application makes sense in your circumstances, we can greatly simplify the process and relieve much of the burden by not only preparing all the required documents but ensuring that you are completely ready and confident for the interview.

Our immigration team has significant experience in dealing with the immigration office and a proven track record in guiding applicants to a successful decision.

For more information or assistance in applying for permanent residence in Thailand, please contact us at info@lafs-legal.com

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