Thailand is one of the world’s most popular destinations for American travellers. After visiting Thailand for tourism, many Americans wish to make Thailand their home or to stay for a longer time of a year or more. They will need a Thailand Visa for Americans
For Americans to stay in Thailand for a longer term, a visa is required. The good news is that there are many visa options set up by the Thai Government to allow Americans to enjoy a longer stay in Thailand.
The 6 most popular Thailand Visas for American citizens wishing to live in Thailand.
1 – Education Visa for Thailand
2 – Guardian Visa for Thailand
3 – Elite Visa for Thailand
4 – Thai Marriage Visa
5 – Tourist Visa for Thailand
6 – Retirement Visa for Thailand
1 – Thai Education Visa for Americans
The Thai education visa is officially known as a Non-Immigrant Visa (ED) and is aimed at foreigners over 12 years of age who wish to stay in Thailand to attend recognised full-time courses.
To be recognized as a full-time course, students must attend the courses and the Thai Government must approve the school’s course. The course must take at least 100 hours over 90 days, which is about 8 – 10 hours per week.
You will need to check with your course provider to ensure they are an approved Government course for the purpose of issuing an Education Visa.
There is no shortage of approved courses on offer in Thailand. Language courses, University and non university courses, high schools, academic and practical skills courses, even hand to hand combat courses are available for American applicants to come live and study on a Thai Study visa.
To apply for an Education Visa as an American, you must complete the visa application form on or before the scheduled date of your visit to Thailand. You must fill out a form at the Thai Embassy in your country of origin or your nearest local Embassy as part of your application.
When you register at a private educational institution in Thailand, you must send a letter of recommendation from the head of the Thai institution confirming your registration as a foreign student, the letter must also include the name, address and telephone number of the academic institution concerned.
If an ED visa is required for shorter term visits such as attending seminars, training or internships, you must also present letters of recommendation addressed by these organizations to the consulate when you apply. The process for these shorter term courses are the same as for a longer term course.
Before applying for your Thai Education Visa, you must first enroll in your recognized full-time course. Once you have registered for a full-time course, the school or institution will prepare and provide you with all the necessary paperwork to submit your application.
This usually takes about 4 business days and in some cases the school may send or fax the documents directly to the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. You don’t need to apply in United States, as an American you can apply at a Thai Embassy in another country.
You must first complete the course registration, pay the tuition fees in full and provide proof of your ability to complete the course and a copy of the visa application.
Upon entering Thailand, you will receive an initial 90-day stay visa. You will then need to apply for an extension within Thailand until the end of your course of study. The term of that visa will depend on the length of your course.
2 – Thai Guardian Visa for American Parents
A Guardian Visa is a great way for American families with Children to move to Thailand.
American parents accompanying their children to school in Thailand will be granted a guardianship visa. It is available to families whose parents are not in Thailand to work. A guardianship visa can be obtained if the child attends a private school, private high school or private university in Thailand.
A Guardian Visa can only be applied to one parent per child. In order to have a Guardian Visa for both the parents, they must have two children enrolled in School in Thailand.
Once you are in Thailand with your initial 90 day Non Immigrant O Guardian Visa, you can file for your year extension 45 days after entry.
To Extend your initial 90 day visa you will be required to submit the following original documents along with a Photocopy:
- Application form (T.M.7)
- A letter from the school confirming your child’s enrolment. (International schools know what letter is required)
- One passport photo that is signed on the back by you.
- Passport page with identification details
- Passport page with Non-Immigrant visa stamp
- Passport page with last arrival in Thailand stamp
- Arrival card (T.M.6)
- Each child’s passport page with identification details
- Each child’s birth certificate
- House registration or lease agreement, with a copy of the property owner’s ID card and signed & dated.
- Bank statement over the past 3 months.
- A bank letter confirming THB 500,000 has been deposited into your Thai Bank account. (The account must be in your name). This is to provide proof that you have suitable funds available to support your long term stay in Thailand.
Note: the funds are required to be in the account 30 days before application in the first year, in subsequent years the full amount of the funds need to be in the account for at least 3 months prior to application. This Requirement is compulsory and if it is not met, the Thai Government will not give the Guardianship visa extension.
Many thousands of parents choose to live in Thailand under a Guardian Visa, among them many Americans. It is a great option for families if the parents are not working in Thailand.
3 – Thai Elite Visa for Americans
The Thai Elite Visa is designed to be a long term (5years+) hassle free visa for Americans looking to have Thailand as their home, or second home.
The Elite Program in Thailand is a way to obtain a long term residence visa for foreign nationals.
Long-term visas are issued to Americans by the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sport, which is under the authority of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations (DFAI).
The visa has 8 versions, each with a specific set of requirements, costs and benefits.
The visa is valid for 5 years, regardless of the package selected, and can be extended for up to 20 years without having to apply for 20-year status.
Depending on the option chosen, the applicant will receive a 5-year extension of the visa for a total of 20 years.
This allows for a stay in Thailand of up to 20 years and a visa for 5 years or an extension for 5 years. Each visa extension is free of charge.
This is a great option for expats and business people who frequently travel to Thailand. This program is ideal for Americans who are wanting to avoid the hassles of annual renewals of business visas and prefer to skip them all together by obtaining this single long term visa.
If approved, you will receive an official letter and invoice from the Thai Embassy for the entry fee and a Thai Elite Visa card.
The visa will be issued within 2 weeks of receiving full payment and you can then live in Thailand for the duration of the visa.
To find out which Thai Visas you are eligible for take our Free Visa Assessment :
4 – Thai Marriage Visa for Americans
Any American citizen who has married a Thai and wishes to stay and live with their partner in Thailand will require a visa to do so. For many married Americans, the Thai Marriage Visa is the best option.
A Thai marriage visa can be obtained if an American is married to a citizen of Thailand.
There are certain requirements that have to be met in order for you, the spouse of the Thai citizen, to be able to secure a Thai Spouse Visa. It is not a visa that is automatically granted to you upon marriage.
A Thai Marriage Visa can be obtained by those who have registered marriage with a Thai Citizen.
After your Marriage Registration in Thailand, you will be eligible to apply for a Thai Marriage Visa under the category of having a Thai Spouse.
When you register your Marriage with a Thai Citizen, it doesn’t automatically grant you the Thai Marriage Visa, you have to apply for it at the Immigration Office and provide the required documents for the visa application.
How to obtain a Thai Marriage Visa
You will be eligible to apply for this visa once you settle your Marriage Registration with a Thai Citizen.
After the Marriage Certificate has been issued to you by the District Office, you can proceed with the Thai Marriage Visa Application.
Before you start your Thai Marriage Visa application, ensure you have enough days remaining on your current Thai visa. Obtaining your Marriage Visa takes some time and your current visa must be valid during that time for you to legally remain in Thailand through the process. It is recommended to have at least 3 weeks remaining on your current visa.
You can convert your current visa to the Thai Marriage Visa after you have secured all the required documents.
After you secure the Marriage Registration Documents and your current visa has enough days remaining, you must check you have met the financial obligation of having 400,000THB deposited into a Thai Bank account. The bank account must be in your own name and the funds must have been in your account for at least 3 months prior to making your Thai Marriage Visa application. If this is not the case, you will need to wait until the funds have been in your account for 3 months before making your application.
Alternatively, you can provide evidence of monthly income above 40,000THB per month.
The initial visa that will be given to you is valid for 3 months, before that 3 month period expires, you can renew your visa for a 1-year extension. These yearly extensions can continue as long as you continue to comply with the requirements of the Thai Marriage Visa.
Thai Marriage Visa Requirements
Requirements for your Thai Marriage Visa application:
- Passport ( Your American passport must be valid for at least 6 months and must have 2 blank pages)
- Copy of your Thai marriage certificate ;
- Copy of your Thai partner’s ID card
- Copy of your Thai Partner’s Tabian Baan (House Registration Papers)
- Copy of a map to your residence in Thailand
- Copy of photos showing you and your partner together (House, Inside of the House, Family Picture, Outside of the House)
- Copy of your bank book showing 400,000 THB in your bank account deposited at least 3 months prior to your visa application or a copy of your income showing 40,000 THB per month in income
- Bank Guarantee and Bank Statement
As previously stated, as an American, a Marriage Registration with a Thai citizen doesn’t guarantee you will be given a Thai Marriage Visa, it will always depend on you presenting the documents and meeting any other requirements for the visa.
Thai marriage visas are renewable every year and you must continue to meet the required criteria each year for your renewal.
Being American, your Marriage Visa for Thailand can be renewed inside Thailand as long as you are able to meet the requirements of the Thai department of Immigration.
The financial eligibilty is the one aspect some people struggle with due to the money having to be in your account for 3 months prior to your application for renewal.
The criteria states you must have 400,000 THB in your bank account for 3 months before your renewal to show you are still capable of supporting your Thai Partner.
Don’t leave this financial deposit too late, the Department of Immigration will not be able to renew your Marriage Visa if you have not had the money in your account for long enough prior to your Marriage Visa Renewal Application.
What happens if I get a Divorce?
If you divorce your Thai Partner, your Non-Immigrant O Marriage Visa will become invalid and you will be required to leave Thailand immediately.
In some cases, you may be allowed to remain in Thailand until the Thai Marriage Visa expires, but you must first check at a Thai Immigration Office. If you divorce and wish to stay in Thailand you need to obtain another type of visa.
5 – Thailand Tourist Visas for Americans
Visiting Thailand as an American Tourist
If you are visiting Thailand as a tourist from United States you will need a tourist visa.
What is a Tourist Visa?
A tourist visa is a stamp or document needed so you can stay in Thailand for a specific period of time, for the purpose of tourism. It is stamped into your passport upon arrival at the airport in Thailand, or it can be obtained, before you travel, through a Thai embassy or consulate.
There are certain countries that made agreements with the government of Thailand so their citizens can benefit from a visa exemption when entering Thailand as tourists. If United States is currently on the list you don’t have to obtain a visa as a tourist and will automatically be granted a period of stay in Thailand for tourism upon arrival. Check the list as it changes regularly.
Requirements for a Tourist Visa
- Passport or travel document with a validity not less than 6 months
- Visa application form (filled out)
- One(1) recent 4x6cm. photograph
- Round-trip air ticket or e-ticket (paid in full) (showing you intend to leave Thailand before your tourist visa expires)
- Proof of financial means (20,000 baht per person/40,000 baht per family)
Thai Tourist Visa Fee:
- US $ 30.00 per entry.
Length of Thai Tourist Visa for Americans – Period of Stay Allowed
If you arrive in Thailand through an international airport, you will be stamped a 30 or 60-day permission of stay depending on whether your country made a bilateral agreement on visa exemptions with Thailand.
If you enter Thailand via a land border, you will be stamped a 15-day permission of stay as a tourist, after which you will have to exit the country again, on or before the expiration date.
6 – Thailand Retirement Visa for Americans
The Retirement Visa for Thailand is available to Americans who are at least 50 years of age and who do not work in Thailand. The visa is designed to allow Americans to Retire in Thailand.
This visa allows you to live in Thailand as your home or second home.
The Thai Retirement Visa visa can be renewed every year and the renewal process can be carried out inside Thailand. This is a long-term Thai visa, which entitles the holder to a one-year stay in Thai. You can renew your Retirement visa for Thailand every year thereafter.
Initial applications for Thai Retirement visas can be processed in any country outside Thailand.
Requirements of a Thai Retirement Visa for an American applicant.
- You must be 50 years of age or over and
- You must meet one of these financial requirements:
a – Show a deposit of THB 800,000 in a Thai bank account for 2 months prior to the visa application or
b – Show a monthly Income of 65,000 THB (not earned through working)
To prove that you meet the financial requirements you will be required to provide the following documents.
In the case of the bank deposit, you will provide an updated Thai bank book or passbook together with a bank letter stating that the money had been deposited into the account from an overseas source not less than 2 months ago. The overseas source does not need to be United States, it can be any overseas source. Please note that the required amount in your bank account must be at least 3 months old before you can renew your visa.
In the case of proving the income, a letter from the American Embassy in Thailand verifying your monthly income; or should the embassy not issue an income letter, you will provide 12-months of bank statements showing a regular deposit of 65,000 baht into a Thai bank account. Note this needs to be into a Thai bank account for a full 12 months prior to applying for the Thai retirement visa.
You will also need proof of address and a utility bill or lease.
To find out more about which Thai Visas you are eligible for, fill out our Free Visa Assessment
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