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Getting Long Term Visas for Living in Asian Countries

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Getting Long Term Visas for Living in Asian Countries

Postby xiongmao » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:15 pm

OK I want to start a thread about how easy it is to get long(ish) term visas to visit countries in Asia.

I'll exclude retirement visas and work visas - I just want to focus on visas for us guys who have enough money to live somewhere for a while, but who aren't old enough to qualify for a retirement visa.

I'll start the ball rolling...

China: you can get a 6 month educational visa by enrolling at a University and studying Mandarin. Cost of the visa about $1500 for 6 months. But you do get up to 25 hours tuition a week. I've not heard of anyone getting kicked out for non attendance of courses.

Thailand: 1 year ED visa around $800 for a year. This is for a language school, not a University. As of now you also don't need to attend classes.

Malaysia: I got a 90 day visa on arrival, which is pretty decent of them! After spending 90+ days in China and now Thailand I'd say this is long enough to get a feel for a country. I don't know what the rules are but I guess you can do a visa run after 90 days. Given the proximity of Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore this would be very easy.

I'm kind of burning out of Thailand and I'd like to continue in my quest to live in every country in Asia. So I'm interested in hearing about how I could legally stay in Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

I will then return to my favourite country and spend more time there :D

Incidentally, "semi-legit" work visas are very hard to get for China these days, and it's pretty much better value to just get an educational visa. Same goes for Thailand, from the prices I've been quoted.
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Postby ladislav » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:08 pm

The Philippines- apparently there is a 6 months visa now available for about $300+ agency fees. Ordinarily you come in on free 21 day ones and then extend by 39, then 2 months + 2 months. The costs are about $100-150 each extension. Now, it seems that they've changed the free 21 day one to a 30 day one. Not seen those yet.

Apparently, you can stay some 14-16 months on those.

If you don't leave the Philippines before 6 months expire, you will need to get a clearance which you will need to go to the immigration for or do through an agent. A pain in the butt because it is like an exit visa- scary! I always leave every 5 months plus and reenter after some 2-3 days. It costs $50-70 plus.

It's better to enter through Angeles City/Clark with other American retirees. Manila migra people often have an attitude and Cebu immigration ask too many questions. If you are a young white guy, they cop an attitude- what are you doing here? why are you here? They don't bother paunchy middle aged freaks with receding hairlines, though.

This is as far as tourist visas go which can be extended like this for a long time- some people have been doing it for 25 years.

Then you have a spousal visa- some USD 1200 + and fees here and there. This is basically permanent residency. A pain to get they say.

You also have a spousal reentry visa- called balikbayan visa in Tagalog. You and your wife must come back from some foreign trip together and they give you a year at the airport.

Then you have a quota immigrant visa-permanent- this will cost USD 4-8 K. Visit any big travel agency at any big hotel in AC. They have contacts. And you need to show that you have 40K in the bank anywhere. That is apparently a flexible requirement with a good lawyer present. Once you have it, you don't need any work permits to work there.

A resident retiree visa- you need $20K in a Philippine bank and be over 50 and/ or 50K ( US) and be under 50 -money not removable as long as you want the visa. Then there are some medical fees, etc. I imagine it costs about 1-3K ( US) to get. More or less.

Most people just find it easier and cheaper as well as more private to be getting all these tourist extensions and the Philippine immigration is happy to give them. It's money for nothing.

Philippine citizenship? Hard to get. Very few people know how to do it.
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Practical advice Por da Pilippines

Postby Jester » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:25 pm

ladislav wrote:The Philippines- apparently there is a 6 months visa now available for about $300+ agency fees. Ordinarily you come in on free 21 day ones and then extend by 39, then 2 months + 2 months. The costs are about $100-150 each extension. Now, it seems that they've changed the free 21 day one to a 30 day one. Not seen those yet.

Apparently, you can stay some 14-16 months on those.

If you don't leave the Philippines before 6 months expire, you will need to get a clearance which you will need to go to the immigration for or do through an agent. A pain in the butt because it is like an exit visa- scary! I always leave every 5 months plus and reenter after some 2-3 days. It costs $50-70 plus.

It's better to enter through Angeles City/Clark with other American retirees. Manila migra people often have an attitude and Cebu immigration ask too many questions. If you are a young white guy, they cop an attitude- what are you doing here? why are you here? They don't bother paunchy middle aged freaks with receding hairlines, though.

This is as far as tourist visas go which can be extended like this for a long time- some people have been doing it for 25 years.

Then you have a spousal visa- some USD 1200 + and fees here and there. This is basically permanent residency. A pain to get they say.

You also have a spousal reentry visa- called balikbayan visa in Tagalog. You and your wife must come back from some foreign trip together and they give you a year at the airport.

Then you have a quota immigrant visa-permanent- this will cost USD 4-8 K. Visit any big travel agency at any big hotel in AC. They have contacts. And you need to show that you have 40K in the bank anywhere. That is apparently a flexible requirement with a good lawyer present. Once you have it, you don't need any work permits to work there.

A resident retiree visa- you need $20K in a Philippine bank and be over 50 and/ or 50K ( US) and be under 50 -money not removable as long as you want the visa. Then there are some medical fees, etc. I imagine it costs about 1-3K ( US) to get. More or less.

Most people just find it easier and cheaper as well as more private to be getting all these tourist extensions and the Philippine immigration is happy to give them. It's money for nothing.

Philippine citizenship? Hard to get. Very few people know how to do it.


Thanks for on-the-ground details!
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Re: Getting Long Term Visas for Living in Asian Countries

Postby Jester » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:35 pm

xiongmao wrote:OK I want to start a thread about how easy it is to get long(ish) term visas to visit countries in Asia.

I'll exclude retirement visas and work visas - I just want to focus on visas for us guys who have enough money to live somewhere for a while, but who aren't old enough to qualify for a retirement visa.

I'll start the ball rolling...

China: you can get a 6 month educational visa by enrolling at a University and studying Mandarin. Cost of the visa about $1500 for 6 months. But you do get up to 25 hours tuition a week. I've not heard of anyone getting kicked out for non attendance of courses.

Thailand: 1 year ED visa around $800 for a year. This is for a language school, not a University. As of now you also don't need to attend classes.

Malaysia: I got a 90 day visa on arrival, which is pretty decent of them! After spending 90+ days in China and now Thailand I'd say this is long enough to get a feel for a country. I don't know what the rules are but I guess you can do a visa run after 90 days. Given the proximity of Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore this would be very easy.

I'm kind of burning out of Thailand and I'd like to continue in my quest to live in every country in Asia. So I'm interested in hearing about how I could legally stay in Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

I will then return to my favourite country and spend more time there :D

Incidentally, "semi-legit" work visas are very hard to get for China these days, and it's pretty much better value to just get an educational visa. Same goes for Thailand, from the prices I've been quoted.


GREAT thread, XiongMao!

And thanks for bringing up Malaysia. Most of us tend to write it off due to bullshit retire-here-with-a-fat-pension-and-buy-a-second-home PR. Living there on 90 day visa runs might b interesting. And yes, you're right, you can do it year-round.

But f***ing hard - probably impossible - to get a bank account there on a tourist visa. Still, ATM limit there is $400 USD, which isnt THAT bad.... if your rent is low.

To me, I don't want to have to go to an ATM more than once to pay rent. Awkward, annoying, expensive fees, plus exposes one to robbery if withdrawing consecutive days each month.

(What about the heat, though? Yes, I know that's a different topic.)
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Postby xiongmao » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:02 am

Thanks for info about the Phillies. I'd recommend older dudes go there for women, younger guys to China. Thailand is ruined.

Yes I might have a look at Malaysia. I'm exploring some different options right now (that aren't women related).

As to ATM's, yeah they're a pain. In Thailand all but one bank charges 150 baht per withdrawl. Then my UK bank charges me £1.50 per transaction, plus a percentage of the amount I've withdrawn (forget if it's 2 or 3%). But it's still cheaper than Western Onion.

I'd guess it might be cheaper to use your Visa card to pay for as much stuff as you can. But it's hard when most of Asia is a cash economy.

As to heat, it was no hotter in KL than it is in Bangkok. Bangkok is the world's hottest city so if you can live here you can live anywhere else.
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Postby Cornfed » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:16 am

AFAIK, it is still easy to stay in Cambodia for as long as you want by getting a business visa on arrival and then extending it to a six monthly multiple entry visa through an agent.
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Postby anamericaninbangkok » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:26 am

xiongmao wrote:Thanks for info about the Phillies. I'd recommend older dudes go there for women, younger guys to China. Thailand is ruined.

Yes I might have a look at Malaysia. I'm exploring some different options right now (that aren't women related).

As to ATM's, yeah they're a pain. In Thailand all but one bank charges 150 baht per withdrawl. Then my UK bank charges me £1.50 per transaction, plus a percentage of the amount I've withdrawn (forget if it's 2 or 3%). But it's still cheaper than Western Onion.

I'd guess it might be cheaper to use your Visa card to pay for as much stuff as you can. But it's hard when most of Asia is a cash economy.

As to heat, it was no hotter in KL than it is in Bangkok. Bangkok is the world's hottest city so if you can live here you can live anywhere else.


I find no such ruin taking place here in Thailand., Perhaps you could learn the culture, the language, or learn the ins and outs before writing the place off. Oh, also, meeting women in person, as opposed to only online, might help too.

YOU THINK IT'S SEEN SUCH A STEEP DECLINE FROM IT'S GLORIOUS PAST although you weren't here in it's past. Can you explain?

It's so difficult to use a VISA or MASTERCARD HERE. I use my Mastercard from the US all the time. Almost every single day in fact. At the grocery, buying airline tickets, at department stores, etc, etc.

Might I also suggest a Charles Schwab account. No international ATM fees.

Mom and Pop shops may not take credit cards or they might charge you 3% but...that's what cash is for.

Now...I'm going to The Mall to buy some kitchen knives, a piggy bank for my kids, some post cards, and then to Fresh Mart for groceries - ALL purchased on my Mastercard to get the miles.

Then I''ll come home and purchase an airline ticket to Myanmar. I could buy it on my Mastercard but instead I'm going to use my Thai AMEX card. If you live here, and earn money here, you too can get a Thai credit card. If not, you can simply transfer $5000 from the UK (or US) to Thailand and keep it in a Thai bank account. I pay $3 for a $2000 transfer that arrives in 2 days, $6 for a $2000 transfer that takes one business day. Once your money is in Thailand, no ATM fees either.

Cambodia is an good place for long-term visas. I don't remember the exact cost but if I remember correctly a multiple-entry, one-year business visa is somewhere around $300 and not difficult to obtain.

Hopefully this helps.
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Postby tre » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:27 am

KL (and Singapore) are on the equator and are both hotter than Bangkok. However, you'll get used to it after awhile. I was in Singapore for a bit, but I wouldn't do it again (too expensive). Malaysia is actually at the top of my list right now of all Asian countries to possibly live. Many people speak English (Manglish rather), it's inexpensive (comparable to Bangkok) and convenient (good transportation system, inexpensive taxis, nearby airport, etc).

I have at least a year or two before I make the move and things change rapidly, so I have no doubt my plans will have to change/adjust. Maybe not, but I'm expecting it.
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Postby Rock » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:41 am

ladislav wrote:A resident retiree visa- you need $20K in a Philippine bank and be over 50 and/ or 50K ( US) and be under 50 -money not removable as long as you want the visa. Then there are some medical fees, etc. I imagine it costs about 1-3K ( US) to get. More or less.




That sounds a little off. I think it's US$10K at 50 or above and US$20K at 35-49. There is also a one time charge of $1,400 if I remember right and a slight annual maintenance fee. I believe you are allowed to buy a finished condo (not presale) for US$50K or more in lieu of having US$10K or 20K locked in the bank.
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Postby mguy » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:28 am

I'm getting the Philippine citizenship through ancestry. It takes forever to get processed btw 3+ months. Fack. I took the number of the lady in the Immig office and will take her out for lunch (dating with a plan haha). I will ask her these things.

If it werent for this forum I would have seriously not have moved here. Damn funny how things turn out.
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Postby Ghost » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:43 am

You can get a Z visa (work visa) for China if you get an ESL job. (An ESL job is extremely easy to get here.) Once you enter the country and start working, your employer will help you get a residence permit, which will allow you to stay for the entire year. (I think you get a little extra time to leave after it expires too, but not sure.) However, a lot of people come on tourist visas and business visas, but I don't recommend it.
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Postby xiongmao » Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:39 pm

Just looked at my passport and realised I got a 90 day tourist visa on arrival when I went to Japan before. So that's long enough to stay awhile. I guess a visa run could be a bit of a hassle though.
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Postby anamericaninbangkok » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:51 pm

xiongmao wrote:Just looked at my passport and realised I got a 90 day tourist visa on arrival when I went to Japan before. So that's long enough to stay awhile. I guess a visa run could be a bit of a hassle though.


A tourist visa is only good for 60 days and must be utilized in 90 days. You can apply for a 30-day extension for 1900 baht, however, a tourist visa without an extension is only good for 60 days.
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