I went through the process of applying for my visa extension yesterday, and thought I would share my planning process, which got me in and out in 30 minutes. I have to say that as long as you do your research, like reading and following what I tell you here, and provide everything required, the process can be very easy and quick.
My warning on that statement is that each Immigration office, or the officer you deal with, seems to have their own interpretation of the rules, which can result in slightly different criteria than the ones I list here. However, the basic foundations of Immigration requirements are pretty standard, so you might get caught out, but it will be in the smaller details. You just have to go with the flow, like with everything bureaucratic anywhere in the world, and eventually you will come out the other end, slightly battered maybe, but generally in one piece.
The basis for my instructions is this useful brochure provided by the Nong Bua Lamphu Immigration office in both English and Thai. I will go through the points, and add my tips and hints as we go along. My visa is based on money in the bank, so I have nothing to add regarding an income based qualification.
Based on the above:
The TM7 is a very simple form to complete. I don't see anything on the form that requires explanation. You can download it HERE
Although this states they only want passport pages that relate to the current visa, I got caught out last year when they phoned and asked for ALL pages in the passport that had been used. I photocopied every one this time, and they did check that the copies matched the passport, so I suggest that's what you do.
A valid visa is taken as a given.
Relates to the financial qualifications for working expats.
Relates to retired expats - for me, that required 400,000 baht in my Thai bank for at least two months prior to extension application lodgement.
On the day of lodging the application, we called into my Bangkok Bank branch and obtained both a statement, showing the 400,000 baht in the account for more than two months, PLUS a certificate stating the same (I think). You do need both documents. 100 baht fee for each, and produced in 10 minutes. I recommend you also deposit some money into your account because the statement, in Bangkok Bank's case anyway, doesn't show the balance on the day it is produced. By making a deposit, you can then photocopy the bank passbook, which will show you still have at least 400,000 baht on the actual day of extension lodgement. In the case of the Nong Bua Lmaphu Immigration office, they do require a copy of both the front page and last page of your bank passbook, even though it isn't listed in the leaflet above.
I was married in Thailand, so this criteria is just a straight copy of the certificate. Make sure you also copy the reverse side, if it has a stamp on, as mine does.
Nothing that requires explanation here. This is the standard blue house book, all Thais have. Copy the front page and the page that has your wife's details. Best to do this on the one page. I have a yellow foreigner house book with my details, and I also copy and provide this, but I don't think it is a must-do, because many expats don't have one. I approach Immigration with a more is better attitude.
The two 4x6 cm photos are for the TM7 form (everything is in duplicate). I thought they wanted two extra photos, so had printed a total of four, but I got the two that weren't attached to the TM 7 back. I am sure they kept them last year, so either my memory is wrong or procedures have changed.
I have no children, thank goodness, so I can't comment on this one. Sounds easy.
Hand over 2,000 baht and I have yet to get any change. It's a modest coffee bonus, so don't get worked up about it.
The house map used to have to be hand drawn, but I believe a Google Map image is OK these days. You need to show the route from the Immigration office to your home. No idea why, as GPS coords would be a lot more useful. I provided both a Google Maps photo, plus I drew a simple map. Best to be sure, to be sure.
Three photos minimum as described. I do all four locations, to be sure, to be sure 555. I used to get these professionally printed and then stuck them on a sheet of paper, but this year I just printed (colour) straight to two A4 pages, and they were fine with that.
Nothing else required that isn't listed here.
This English wording is totally useless, and I got caught out the first time I applied because of it. The Thai wording is spot on. What they want is a document called a Cor Ror 2 (phonetically spelt). Get your partner to read the Thai, and she'll understand. This form is obtained from your Amphur office and will either be free or a few baht. It is all in Thai, so I can't be specific as to its function, but it seems to be some sort of confirmation of the marriage - photo supplied below.
You will need to bring a non-family person to act as a witness. They will need to bring their ID and house book, plus two copies of each.
Photocopy everything in duplicate.
Put it all neatly in order. All these guys want to do is get you out the door, so make that job easier for them.
You may be asked a few simple confirmation question by the officer, so be prepared. The address of your home, how long you have been married, etc. Nothing demanding. Your wife will be asked similar questions as well.
The witness will get a brief sit down 'interview', which as it's all in Thai I can't be specific about its nature. I believe it is mostly to confirm that the witness does actually know you both. One previous time, they were asked how many bedrooms there were in our house. Another - whether I treated my wife well. I don't think they have a set list of questions. All I am saying is that you can't just turn up with someone as a witness that's been randomly picked up in the street, 555.
Turn up looking neat. I have seen some expats that look as if they have just arrived from the beach. Immigration officers are working in a professional environment. They are police officers, not just bureaucrats, so show some respect for your own sake.
Each office will be different, but the officers in Nong Bua Lamphu are super friendly, speak good English and are helpful and not trying to make your or their lives difficult. That comment is totally related to my situation, but don't go into the office with a confrontational attitude expecting the same in response. It most likely won't be, but there will obviously be exceptions as there are dealing with people behind a desk in any situation in any country.
It is likely that your 90-day report finishes the same day as the expiry of your current extension. If your officer is on the ball, he will extend this to the approval date for your extension, which is usually one month after the expiration date. When you collect your extension stamp one month later, they will give you another 90 days.
As hinted in the above, you will have to wait for a processing period (one month from expiry date) or as nominated, and will get an interim stamp in your passport reflecting that your application for extension is under consideration. I lodged my application yesterday the 8th of February for a 20 February expiry, and the interim stamp is dated 21 March.
This is the front page of a Cor Ror 2.
The printed leaflet in Thai for your partner.
I think that pretty well covers it. There are a few extra steps in this process compared to an O (retirement) visa, but once you know what they are, I find there's nothing here that is especially difficult. We left home at 13:00 to drive the 30 minutes to bank and office, and we were back home almost spot on 15:00, so the admin at bank and Immigration took one hour. It shows what can happen if you get it all right (and have a quiet office, which we do have, thankfully).
If you would like a free PDF version of this post, then you can download it HERE
Please add any tips and experiences you have in the comment section for others.
Good luck, and thanks for reading.