The Thai Immigration Department has a quota for all expatriates applying for residence permits. Only 100 people per nationality can apply, and in some years you can only apply for a residency during three months of the year. Permanent residency is mandatory if you want to apply for Thai citizenship.
You can apply for a Thai residence permit if:
- You need the citizenship for business or employment reasons
- You need permanent residency for investment purposes (min. 3 - 10 Mil. Baht investment in Thailand)
- You are an expert or an academic doing research
- You are supporting your spouse or children who are Thai citizens or you are dependant on a Thai citizen
- You are accompanying a family member who has a residency permit
- You are retired in Thailand (and will likely stay in Thailand permanently)
You can apply for a Thai residence permit at the Bangkok Immigration Office which is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30am - 4:30pm. It can get extremely crowded so it is recommended to arrive there early (before the opening hours).
Requirements for the permanent residence
To qualify for a permanent residence permit, you will have to have held a non-immigrant visa consistently for at least 3 years. If your application is approved, you will receive the resdence blue book. In addition to this, you will also receive an alien registration book (red book), which will be issued to you at the local police station. This card is the equivalent of the Thai ID card. You must re-register every year. However, if you wish to leave the country and then return to Thailand, you will have to apply for a re-entry permit (endorsement). You cannot have any criminal record either in Thailand or your country of origin and your fingerprints will be taken. The Residency Permit itself never expires, unless revoked.
You do not need a lawyer for the immigration process. However, a lawyer could save you some running around by giving you useful advice on how to show your contribution to society, ensure that all your Thai-language company documents are correct and to complete and handle the translation of documents.
Check the Immigration Bureau's website for a list of the required documents for permanent residence applications.
Interview for permanent residence
To obtain Thai permanent residency, you will be interviewed by an officer at the Thai Immigration Office. You will be asked questions about your documents, background and religion. The officer will note your answers which will be printed afterwards so that you can sign them.
You will also have to answer 10 multiple choice questions written in Thai. If you do not read Thai well, it is not a problem because the officer will help you by reading the questions aloud. After the test, you will have to go into a partitioned area and introduce yourself in Thai. This will be recorded on a camera.
Usually you will receive your approval letter one and a half years after your application, depending on the category you were applying for. To obtain your certificate of residence, you will have to visit the Thai Immigration Office within 30 days after you get the approval letter and you will also have to submit the following:
- The original and a copy of your passport
- The original and a copy of your residence's House Registration Book Tabien Baan
- 12 (4x6cm) photos taken within the last 3 months
- Fee paid in cash