Discuss international visas, immigration and citizenship issues.
But don't you need to show you have enough investment capitol?
For example, I started my own business in TX, even hired a couple employees after a while, and my sole start-up cost was the $40 to print my business cards.
(It was a flier distribution service, i.e. -putting business' ad fliers on doors)
And I'd love to find a foreign country where I could start doing the same business. But I doubt there's a country that would give me residence just to do my flier service. Right? If there is, let me know!
"But don't you need to show you have enough investment capitol? "
There are ways around this. Show monthly deposits into your USA bank account, show monthly cashflow signed off by a CPA; P/L, B/S and other financials can be created to give you the money you need.
Just make sure you don't get caught and that you actually CAN run a business and make money.
In Thailand, Americans receive a no-visa entry good for 30 days. They can extend for 10 days. If they apply for a tourist visa, you get 60 days with a one month extension. Some places will issue multiple entry tourist visas good for a year.
What Thailand is attempting to do is push away backpackers and those with no means of support who stay for years on tourist visas or no visa entries. Countries don't give tourist visas for people to stay two months, extend a month, and then repeat for the rest of their lives. Can you blame any country for wanting their tourists to be tourists and those who are expats to either have a legitimate method of earning a living or a retiree with a pension?
If you are a student in Thailand, or have a job, or are looking to do business, or show the necessary funds for a Non-imm O (marriage visa) or O-A (retirement visa), there is none of this two month, in and out visa run BS. In other words, if you have a legitimate reason for living in the country and have the funds to support yourself, then obtaining the appropriate visa is a straightforward, relatively simple process.
Based on web research, not personal experience, I agree with the above posters:
Philippines - No need to leave for a year or more as long as you keep renewing.
Thailand - annoying visa runs unless you can finnagle a business visa.
Germany - easy residency if you have an online business making at least $1000 a month
I would add:
INTO THE WILDERNESS:
Business Visa - $290 a year gets you a 12 month stay, no questions asked. Booming economy, corrupt as hell. OK to start a business if you dare, or go fire an full-auto AK (at a gun range). Rock and roll!
Tourist Visa - Americans get a 24 month stay, I'm not sure about other nationalities. I think it's a tourist visa, it might be called something else. NaughtyNomad had some wild trip reports from there.
Tourist visa - 3 months, visa run, return ("back-to-back" is okay). The catch is that you have to fly a couple of countries away, like Mexico or Panama. Just going to the border doesn't work.
Residency Show $1000 a month converted into local currency, from any source, and stay as long as you want. No visa runs.
Costa Rica -
Tourist Visa - similar to Honduras, but have to stay out of country 72 hours on visa runs. Plus hard to open a bank account on a tourist visa. Bank account requires a written lease (lease deposits are huge on Latin America) plus proof of income. Seems like a hassle to me, unless you love the place.
Residency - virtually impossible unless you have a kid there.
Tourist Visa - also a huge hassle like Costa Rica. All the stuff you here about how easy it is to move there is written by realtors for wealthy retirees. Has nothing to do with you or me. Permanent tourists get hassled.
Residency - Impossible without serious cash.
Tourist visa - 3 month stays on a tourist visa, leave and come right back ("back-to-back"). May be able to renew once locally, so you may only have to leave every 6 months.
Residency - not sure about this. Can't be hard.
Tourist visa - No barriers, no FBI report. Just pay $50 a month.
Residency - OK to apply for residency after you get there and try it out. Even easier than Philippines.
Tourist Visa - 3 months, visa run (2 countries away), then another 3 months. Total 6 months.
Residency - After 6 months in-country, then apply for residency (including FBI report), then stay another 12 months to lock it in.
Tourist visa - an easy 6-month stay with a tourist visa, and you can do back-to-back. Just leave and re-enter every 6 months (for now).
Residency - $1500 a month from any source, documented from bank statement. Another $500 per dependent.
Two brand-new requirements for Mexican residency (yes, per Polya's O.P., getting harder):
--Must apply from home country (U.S.)
--Must furnish FBI report (may not be enforced yet)
Tourist Visa - 6 months, day trip ferry run to Uruguay, then back for another 6 months.
Tourist Visa - Similar to Argentina but 3 month visa with 3 month renewal, then out and back, repeat.
Argentina and Uruguay will ask questions after a while, so stay on the other side (or visit U.S., whatever) for couple of months every 18 months or so.
Residency - Stay 3 months on a tourist visa, then apply for residency. Need $6000 to deposit briefly in their bank (withdraw afterward if you want). Total cost paperwork under $2000. In 4 years you can apply for citizenship, get visa-free travel to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, maybe more. Buy guns, start businesses, apply for jobs. Last of the free countries.
I should add - my post (above) is for folks like me who scratch out their own living. If you have decent resume, and can get a job, you can get visit Southern Brazil (hot economy) or Northern Continental Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Norway, etc) as a tourist for 3 months, learn the language, and job-hunt. The job gets you permission to stay. Same with China.
If you're a hotshot engineer, you can also try Canada, New Zealand, Australia, etc.
"Pick a point and go to it."
-- Dr John Hunsucker, speaking about canoeing on Georgia's Lake Lanier, with its irregular shape, and 1000 miles of meandering shoreline
No annoying visa runs for those who:
Get a business visa, as you said.
Get an education visa - easy.
Are married to a Thai (me)
Qualify for a retirement visa (me)
As I said, tourist visas allow for 2 months plus one month extension so one visit = 3 months. If you're cheap, you can then take a bus or train to one of the borders, step off Thai soil, turn right back around, and stay for another 3 months. If you get a multiple entry tourist visa you can extend your stay 4 times.
Excellent point. However I did hear they are cracking down on schools, beginning to require actual serious class attendance. True?
Residency via marriage, retirement or investment are widely available. The latter two are promoted endlessly on the web. So I have to assume that anyone asking about residency issues here on HA does not fit these categories. And many of us do not want to re-marry legally. (Although i grant that Thailand would be a safer place to marry than most - easy divorce, little alimony or child support I understand).
So based on going to Thailand consulate in California and requesting a multi-entry visa in advance, I can then get 2 months, plus renew monthly for another 4 months? Totaling 6 months? If so, that's very interesting. 6 months beats 2! That is a material difference.
But you live in Bangkok I believe. Do you know if renewal can be done in Chiang Mai? Otherwise it's a monthly odyssey to Bangkok for renewal.
Re visa runs, mandatory 15 hour bus rides are not my thing. And I'm not cheap, but I also don't plan to live with regular mandatory-ritual irradiation. (Actually the TSA is the biggest single reason I am leaving the U.S.) Have you by any chance heard whether Thai airports enforcing use of the TSA-style radiation scanners that they bought for Bangkok?
Yes, I live in Thailand, almost 18 years now.
Thais know exactly what foreigners are trying to do in getting long-term education and tourist visas. If you want to live in the country, you really need to do things legally. The days of old are pretty much gone.
When I got here, I lived on tourist visas and would sometimes pay a Thai company to exit the country and get my stamp. Highly illegal but immigration was paid off and it was tolerated. Then I got a work permit and non-immigration M visa, a media visa. I've also had a marriage visa and I'm now on a retirement visa. The M visa, marriage visa, and retirement visa allow me one year here without exiting, however if I want to leave the country and retain use of the visa, I pay 1000 baht.
If you're on an education visa you need to go to the class. You do know that if you just pay for an education visa and blow it off that in doing so you could be deported? Some of the schools will report you if you don't go. You have to pay for the tuition and it helps to know Thai so why ask for trouble? Why not just go to class? It's only like 4 hours a week!
It is no piece of cake to gain residency here, it's expensive, and the benefits are few IMO. You need to be here 3 years straight on a one-year visa (no problem here) AND the Thai government only grants 100 residency permits a year. When I get older I may get residency here but as I said, the benefits compared to a retirement or marriage visa are few. It's a pain in the ass for very little gain.
Multiple entry visas are not available in Los Angeles and I don't think they're available in Washington either. I don't know if they're still available in the US. Anyway, you are confused as to how it works.
An example of what you could do: You come to Thailand on a single-entry tourist visa. This gives you two months. On the last day of the visa, you go to immigration, apply for an extension, pay the 1900 baht and receive another 30 days. At the end of these 30 days, you would need to fly to somewhere that gives multiple entry tourist visas, like Savannakhet in Laos. The total cost with flying would be around $350. You'll receive a 6 month multiple entry tourist visa. In the past when I had tourist visas, one year visas were given. Now you really have to search for where you can find these and sometimes it's just not cost effective. Anyhow, you come back to Thailand, at the end of the two months, go to immigration and get a 30-day extension. At the end of that 30 days, you need to do a visa run. It will take you a full day. Then when you come back, you have another 60 days plus the extension. Renewals need to be done in the city where you live or if there is no immigration, the nearest one. So if you live in Chiang Mai, you can get the renewal done there.
I never could understand why foreigners love Chiang Mai so much. Why come to Thailand to hang out in a city full of foreigners?
With the education visa, you go into immigration at the end of the 90 days and file for a stay/extension. You pay 1900 baht and get another 3 months. You can do this for something like 3 years.
Bangkok's airports are very mellow compared to the US airports. The do use scanners but they're the old style scanners.
Here's the bottom line. Just because someone wants to live in Thailand or elsewhere doesn't mean they should be allowed to do so. If you can prove your income and are willing to pay the fees, it's relatively easy to live here.
Re visa runs, mandatory 15 hour bus rides are not my thing. And I'm not cheap, but I also don't plan to live with regular mandatory-ritual irradiation.
If you don't want to do visa runs, then get the proper visa, that's my best advice. I've done it both ways and it's so much easier to do things legallyand properly. If you want to live in a foreign country, you have to expect some bureaucratic headaches. Very few countries in the world are going to allow you to stay for years to work illegally in their country or without showing an income. It's almost akin to an Austrian coming to the US and then trying to apply for a US passport. If he doesn't qualify, why should he get one?
BTW - Cambodia as a place to live...not so great. I've spent quite a bit of time there, weeks on end sometimes. If you start a business, be sure you have a huge bankroll. My buddy used to own Sharky Bar, one of the most popular bars in Phnom Penh - once the government booted the Viet hos the place went downhill. Also, the corruption means you're going to be paying the police to operate your business and deal with employees who are somewhat less than intelligent. The good thing is most are not as arrogant about their ability as the Thais.
Believe me, if you're not operating your business or exercising a couple of hours a day, the only thing to do once you've seen the sights is to bang women and hang out in bars. I don't like hanging out in bars for weeks on end and even the women get to be a pain after a while. It is a country that will drain you emotionally if you're there for more than a week, much like Myanmar. You need to have great patience. And shooting off an AK is no big deal once you've done it. You can't blow up cows with bazookas anymore.
Also, if you buy land...expect to have to give a payoff to the head of the area where you're buying. This payoff can be a one-time deal or monthly, or both. If you're a foreigner, expect to get bent over.
Education is a nice way of getting a visa, I'm finding the classes are quite fun. Plus if you're in your 20's then you can easily date your fellow students, although I'm a bit old for that now.
And classes give some structure to your life, otherwise you'd end up drinking beer from 10am onwards.
You don't need to have 100% attendance, just make sure you attend just as often as the majority of your fellow students do.
I've not heard of people getting booted for poor attendance though. My school does really well from the students who don't attend, because they can admit more students but the classroom won't get full up!
I'd be so wary of doing business anywhere in SE Asia. I've seen one of the police chiefs here riding round on his police motorbike with a woman on the back. And I know that people have obviously been paid off to overlook all kinds of things here.
It only makes sense that countries should tighten their immigration rules for Westerners now that many Western expats are the impoverished refugees of corrupt third world shitholes rather than the wealthy gadabouts of the past.
Sad but true.
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