August  2009

What is the Procedure to Obtain a Permanent Residence Permit in Thailand?

Many foreigners who have l ived in Thailand for some time would ideally like to enjoy the benefits of obtaining a permanent residence permit (“permit”). Below is a brief description of the benefits associated with holding a permit and the applicable requirements and procedure to obtaining one.

Benefts

The foreign individuals who obtain the permit enjoy the following benefts.

1. Permission to Permanently Reside in Thailand

Foreign permit holders are allowed to live permanently in Thailand without obtaining a further visa, work permit, etc., authorizing that person to do so.

Note, however, that foreigners working in Thailand are still required to maintain a work permit (as their permission to work in Thailand as opposed to reside) but are not required to renew their visa each year as normally would be the case without the permit.

2. Permission to Obtain Local Financing

Normal ly, when foreigners in Thai land purchase a condominium unit, they are not legally allowed to fnance that purchase locally (i.e. 100% of the purchase price must be remitted from abroad).

Permit holders are, however, exempt from this requirement. Like Thai citizens, permanent residents are allowed to seek out local fnancing for the purchase of condominiums through banks, fnance companies, etc. in Thailand.

3. Apply for Citizenship

Obtaining a permit is a prerequisite for foreigners who wish to apply for Thai citizenship. Foreigners may apply for Thai citizenship after holding a permit for fve consecutive years.

4. Family Members’ Residence Permit

Once the foreigner obtains the permit, his spouse, children, and parents become qualifed to apply for their own permit (see Humanity Category below).

5. Children Born in Thailand Acquire Thai Nationality

When either of the parents of a child born in Thailand is a permanent resident that child automatically obtains Thai nationality at the time of birth.

Requirements for Obtaining a Permit

The following are the requirements of obtaining a permit. Note that these rules are subject to frequent change and that a current list of the requirements may be found at:
www.immigration.go.th.

1. Qualifcations

The foreigner must have held a non-immigrant visa and have resided in Thailand for at least three consecutive years on the same non-immigrant visa at the time of application.

The foreigner must qualify under one of the following five categories. Note that each of the five categories has different requirements regarding required documentation to be submitted and applicable application fees.

 

 

i. Investment Category – the foreigner must bring in at least 10 million Baht into Thailand to invest in a limited or public company, state-issued security, state enterprise’s security or the stock market; or

ii. Employment Category – for at least one year, the foreigner must be an executive offcer and a signatory of a business registered in Thailand with a capital of at least 10 million Baht. The applicant must earn at least 50,000 Baht per month for two consecutive years prior to submitting the application. Also, his work must be in an area of interest to the Thailand economy.

Alternatively (still under the Employment Category), the foreigner must earn at least 80,000 Baht per month for two years or fle a tax return for an annual income of 100,000 Baht or more for two consecutive years. He, also, must have held work a permit for at least three consecutive years and worked in the current company for at least one year; or

iii. Humanity Category – the foreigner must be the spouse, parent or child of a permanent resident or a Thai citizen; or

vi. Expert Category – the foreigner holds a Bachelor or a
higher degree, and his current position requires him to work at least three consecutive years in Thailand; or

v. Other circumstances (outside of the above) are considered on a case-by-case basis.

2. Application Procedure

The Ministry of Interior announces its annual quota for issuing permits per nationality (stating how many applications will be accepted per nationality) in the Government Gazette each year. The applicant may thereafter submit his application until the last working day of that year together with all required supporting documents. The applicant will also be required to be interviewed by an immigration offcer. Note that this interview includes an oral Thai profciency test.

After submission, the consideration period for the application is normally six months to a year with the result to be communicated to the foreigner at the end of such period.

3. Fees

Upon submitting the application, the foreigner is required to pay a non-refundable application fee of 7,600 Baht. If the application is approved, the applicant must pay an additional fee of 191,400 Baht unless the applicant is the child (under 20 years of age) or spouse of a foreign permanent resident or a Thai citizen in which case the fee payable is 95,700 Baht.

Michael Doyle is a US lawyer and partner of the Bangkok based law frm of Seri Manop and Doyle. He is the author of the books Doyle’s Practical Guide to Thailand Business Law and Doyle’s Practical Guide to Thailand Intellectual Property Law. His email is michael@serimanop.com.


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