The whole visa situation here in Thailand is quite a minefield to navigate and with different types of visas available its always best to check directly with the Thai immigration for the exact requirements relating to each visa type. But what happens when things are not straight forward? If your situation changes while living in Thailand and your kids need to finish school or you want to stay in Thailand based on their educational status, there is good news as the Guardian Visa covers you specifically for this purpose.
If you are moving to Thailand based on one of the parents working for a Thai based company, then it is highly likely that all family members will have their visa’s connected as dependents of the working parent.
However there are certain situations where being a dependent isn’t possible. What if you want to locate yourself in Thailand given the educational options for the children, but the main breadwinner technically works for a company outside of Thailand performing a regional role? Or what if you and your working partner are in a de-facto relationship, in which case the Thai government will not issue the non-working partner with a dependent visa? What if your partner leaves Thailand but you wish to remain so your child can complete their schooling?
In this case, ‘Guardian Visa’s’ are available to parents of children studying in formally recognised schools. The child themselves will need to obtain a ‘Non-Immigrant ED’ (education) visa which will be granted based on the school confirming enrollment. The education visa is a fairly straight forward process and all schools can supply you with the documentation to confirm your child’s place at school.
Many schools offer a visa service where one of their representatives will take you and your kids to the immigration office to assist in the process. Do check in advance though as while some are complimentary, others offer a paid service. Should you wish to organise your own visas, the main Thai immigration office is based in Chaengwattana and has English speaking officers to assist and guide you in the right direction. Whilst you may have to spend the whole day there, taking the kids is necessary to obtain their visa as you cannot do this on their behalf, it is a straight forward process as long as you have all the correct documentation required and unlimited photocopies of your passport and entrance visa!
Following this, the parent of the child will be able to apply for a ‘Non-Immigrant O’ visa based on being the guardian of a student studying in Thailand. While any reputable international school will provide you with the appropriate paperwork for this, there are two main things to know. First, is that it requires 500,000 baht to be deposited in a Thai bank account in your name upon application. The money can be withdrawn after your visa is in place but must be put back into your account 3 months before the annual extension of your next visa application.
The second important thing to note is that only one Guardian visa is given for each child. So, if both parents require a Guardian visa, they will need to have at least two children studying in Thailand, and each Guardian visa will require 500,000 baht (i.e. 1 million baht in total) to be deposited in a Thai bank account in your respective names. However, in the case of one parent wishing to remain in Thailand to see two or more children through their education the guardian visa permits this.
Chris Larkin is a senior consultant and a long-time resident of Bangkok. His website www.thaicitizenship.com has some useful tips for those looking to stay in Thailand permanently.
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