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It has been a fairly stressful few days in the Land of Smiles.  There is a lot of confusion now on the visa situation and everyday seems to bring new reports of crackdowns.  The latest one is that effective October 1st, Thai Immigration is completely eliminating all of the investment visas (bank, condominium, and bonds based on a three million baht deposit into a Thai government account).

Here's a summary of what's known to date, courtesy of Sunbelt Asia, a Bangkok company specializing in Thai immigration and business law:

News from the new regulation:
This is coming from the Chief of Immigration.

1.Retirement Visa extension. If you have a foreign married spouse who is a dependent they will be able to get this dependent visa now. ( change of what has been happing the last couple weeks)

2.Retirement visa extension: If you have children under 20. They will no longer be able to get a dependent visa based on you having an extension of stay on retirement. They want these kids to get it based on education so they go to school.

3..Investment Visa extension: Will no longer be available after Oct 1st for new applicants on 3 million Baht.

4. Investment visa extension. For existing extension of stay holders of 3 million Baht, we are now being told this will now be grandfathered in and they will be able to get the extension forever as long as they renew. (Yes I know reversal from several hours ago but the government is aware that people bought condos before on this scheme and now will allow it.)

5.Now the news for frequent visitors: We have checked this upwards and backwards all day and it has been confirmed by a copy of the new regulation we have. If you have a visa on arrival more than three times in six months, you cannot come into Thailand without a visa from an Embassy/Consulate. When you enter Thailand, even if you are here just 1 hour, this counts as 30 days. If you come back 6 weeks later for 2 days, this again is 30 days. If you arrive a month later for 4 days, still counts as 30 days. When you leave, you cannot enter Thailand for 3.5 months without coming back with a visa. The reason is to force people who are supposed to have work permits to do so and pay tax.

Another example; you arrive for a week, this counts as 30 days, One month later 3 days and its 30 days, two months later and its for a two week period, still another 30 days. You can reenter Thailand in 6 weeks without having a visa.

6.On extension of stay based support of a Thai national (Marriage visa), before if you applied for this extension of stay, you would get a 30 day consideration stamp. Once you return in 30 days you would get the one year extension. Now it will be the same as an extension of stay based on business with the norm of three 30 day consideration stamps. Immigration will go out and check to see if it’s a real marriage or a sham before issuing the one year.

7.On an extension of stay based on being a Monk. No dependents will be allowed to get an extension of stay based on being a dependent.
All Immigration officials have been ordered to attend a special meeting about the new regulations on September 15 and hopefully the fog will begin to clear.

There has been a deluge of comments — many complaints and opinions and a few well-thought-out discussions — on the various expat online forums.  I've been perusing more than a few between research for my lesson plans this the past few days.  I've been printing some out and plan to sit down and really concentrate on them sometime this weekend.

Luckily, Tim hasn't seen any of the stress I've felt over all of this.  While I'm still trying to decide when and where (either Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or Singapore) to obtain my Non-Imm (O) visa, we found out that Tim will need to travel to Lumphun in the next three weeks in order to change her ID from "Miss" to "Mrs." (why they have to return to their birthplace rather than doing it where they live now is just one example of Thai bureaucracy).  So, it's another unexpected expense (we had previously been wrongly told that a copy of our lease and her name on the telephone bill were sufficient to change her ID here).  All I can do is grin and bear it on the outside while inside I'm trying to figure out solutions and logistics.

I often wonder how much Tim really knows about the turmoil going on right now.  She's aware of the flooding in the north and the many deaths up there.  She knows about the bombings in the south and the many deaths down there (but she doesn't understand why parts of Pattani and other southern areas are starting to resemble downtown Baghdad).  And she knows that someone tried to kill Prime Minister Thaksin with a car bomb a couple of weeks ago without understanding why so many people here don't like him.

As I type this, ironically enough, I have just received another email news alert:  the Thai government just confirmed that a military coup d'etat has been prevented.  The plan was to oust Thaskin while he was overseas on a business trip.  I'm really beginning to wonder if they've forgotten that Thailand is called the Land Of Smiles...