How expat retirement visa has shifted with the times
Your ongoing printing of letters about the mooted 10-year retirement visa clearly reflects expat concerns about the future. Actually, the current one-year retirement visa has undergone many transformations since its introduction in the early 1990s.
The initial deposit required in the Thai bank was any six-figure sum, later converted to Bt500,000 and then to Bt800,000. At first, a letter from a doctor certifying good health was mandatory, but this was dropped after a totally fit applicant died on the immigration bureau steps after suffering a heart attack. The lower age limit was steadily reduced from 60 to 55 and eventually to 50.
In recent years there has been a steady increase in the documentation required, for example the need to produce a house book or lease agreement, but it is obvious that the retirement visa is ripe for a revamp. A deposit or foreign income of at least Bt800,000 has been whittled away by inflation over the years. “Proof” of foreign income is provided in a letter by embassies, even though they have no idea if the claimed sum is true. This is not to mention the loophole whereby a friend can supplement the cash in an applicant’s Thai bank account.
Meanwhile, Thai public-sector hospitals are crying out because some foreigners can’t pay their inpatient bills. So changes to the retirement visa are clearly on the cards. John Arnone and others are right to say that it’s best not to panic until any new proposals are published. Equally, history shows that nothing is set in concrete.