My long-term Thai visa: part two

I recently wrote about how I obtained a Thai Education/Student Visa so that I can stay in Thailand for a year or two. A Thai education visa is a great way to learn the language and live here legally without having to border hop.

By the way, the requirements for a visa are subject to change any day or wherever depending on where you live, where you’re from, or how you dress at immigration. My immigration officer told me I needed to speak softly if I wanted to get a visa.

Here’s the details on what I have learned about the Thai education visa while waiting in line yesterday. 

  • The Thai Education visa is ONLY VALID FOR THREE MONTHS at a time and you extend after that time period. IT IS NOT A ONE YEAR VISA. In late August I got approved for a three month extension so am good to go until the end of November. When November comes I will have to either extend again or check in. I am unsure of the process at the moment and will ask my school.
  • Bring all of your documents from the school for your Thai education visa extension. This is your original TM30, a passport photo, photocopies of all your passport pages that have Thai stamps, an application for extension, and 1900 Baht.
  • Immigration WILL check attendance sheets. Those are also required as documents to extend. You cannot get a Thai education visa and not show up for class.
  • Once you are approved for your Thai education visa, you will need to obtain re-entry permits to leave and come back during those three months. Each re-entry permit is 1000 Baht. I usually leave the country twice per 90 days and never miss more than a few days of class.

Here is how my day went with my Thai education visa extension. 

You will need to plan to spend an entire day at Chiang Mai’s Promenada immigration for a Thai education visa extension. It is absolute hell so just prep your mind beforehand and know that it’s something that needs to be done.

4:30AM – Call a Grab to drive me to Promenada. He was insistent that the office wasn’t open and that I was crazy. However, you need to arrive early to stand in line.

5:00AM – Arrive at Promenada immigration and stand in line. There are two lines at this time. One is for a Business visa and the other is for Retirement and Education visa. You will know when you arrive where to go.

5:01AM – Realize that I am #35 in line (two other Americans showed up at 3:30 AM and were #18 and #19 in line).

5:02AM – 7:45AM – Read & call friends and family abroad. I brought my laptop, headphones, and a book.

7:45AM – Get your queue number and flash your documents to the ones that hand those numbers to you. Then you are free to roam around. There are breakfast vendors, coffee, and toilets so it’s honestly not too bad.

8:30AM – Immigration opens so I go sit inside.

9:00AM – They are 7 numbers in so I go outside, call friends and fam, read, get coffee and breakfast, and relax.

11:30AM – My number is called. I show the officer my documents and she tells me I need my original TM30. I only had a copy. I try not to cry and she tells me to go home and get it, she will hold my paperwork, and I can get it signed upstairs on level 2 at 1:00. I never checked in after my trip to Malaysia and needed to verify I was still living in the same house. Oops, I had no idea. So if you ever leave the country, check in and ask your school what you need to do when you come back into the country.

12:45PM – Arrive back at Promenada after going home to grab my original TM30. I needed to get it signed on the 2nd floor immigration office. The lady from downstairs gave me a note in all Thai to ditch the lines and get it done ASAP.

1:00 PM – The lunch hour is over for the office and people cram in to the tiny office. I speak with three staff asking them to read my note and tell me what it means but they all ignored me. I stand in line then realized I was in the wrong line so then stand behind a crowd of people. I get my new queue number and am about 50 down the list.

I cried outside from stress and was about 8 hours into the day. I went back downstairs and talked to the lady I had originally spoke with and she asked me if I showed the staff her note and I said yes and that no one was helping me. She sent a person upstairs with my TM30 to get it signed it for me and I was seen by her about 15 minutes later. By 2PM I had my visa stamped and extended. I then waited for the passport for about 30 minutes.

2:30 PM – I have my newly stamped visa and go back outside and ask a staff member if I have time to apply for my re-entry permit as I am leaving for Hong Kong in two weeks for a couple of days. He said yes, so I make photocopies of my passport page and visa and luckily had a spare passport photo. I had already filled out my re-entry application, paid my 1000 baht and got a new queue number.

3:45 PM – I am seen by the re-entry staff member and approved within five minutes.

4:00 PM – Call a Grab for my fourth time in the day, go home, and pass out.

After 11 hours IT ALL WORKED OUT BUT WAS SO HECTIC. I 100% appreciate that I can live here but Chiang Mai is a hassle. 

90 Day check in: I did not need to do a 90 day check in on top of my extension  because I was gone less than two months ago. Every time you leave the country the count down starts over.

Fun fact: I get to do this every three months! Hooray! BUT hey, it’s worth it to live in Thailand. I can’t change any visa rules so figure I’ll have plenty of days to catch up on reading.

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