One of the most fun days that I had before leaving was when we went to New York to get our visas. Getting our visa for Thailand from the US was quite the task and took a lot of troubleshooting due to the financial guidelines.
In the end, it all worked out.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet about the visa requirements. This is partly because different consulate websites have different guidelines and the rules, like anything in life, consistently change.
We had a few different options:
- Single Entry Tourist Visa – issued upon arrival and valid for 30 days.
- Multiple Entry Tourist Visa – must be approved and obtained prior to departure and used within 90 days. Upon arrival, we are given 60 days with an option to extend an additional 30 days at the Thai Immigration Bureau Office here in Bangkok. This gives us 90 days.
- Work Visa – All foreigners interested in working in Thailand must obtain a Thai work permit and a Thai work visa. In order to receive a work permit, a company, foreign government, or other organization in Thailand must file an application on the behalf of the work visa applicant. Visa is good for one year.
- Retirement Visa – Must be at least 50 years or older. We’re not there yet, but damn does it feel like it!
- Education Visa – When enrolled in a college or a course. Good for one year and extendable.
Our first issue was that we have a friend who we are excited to visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With the single entry visa, it means that if we left in the midst of visa it would be voided. Also, the time frame of 30 days isn’t ideal.
With the multiple entry visa, we could travel freely in and out of the country during our time and explore Southeast Asia. Then the visa runs to extend or obtain new multiple entry visas (can be obtained 3 times for maximum stay of 9 months) would only happen every three months.
That makes visa runs fun, less frequent, enjoyable, and less stressful.
The multiple entry visa was perfect for us! The problem was that on the Washington DC and Los Angeles consulate site, it stated that you needed proof of $7,000 in your bank account for each person.
Given that this idea was fairly new and we sold all of our stuff to afford this, this created a big roadblock.
Thankfully, the consulate in NY was different. I called them and they said they just needed proof that we had it. So I went down to the bank, deposited the cash, got a letter from my bank stating the balance, and we decided to hand deliver it to the consulate in person.
All of the information and applications can be found on your local Thai Consulate website.
Read about our awesome day in New York here.
Get 9 Months From Your Visa
The METV is the best way to get 9 months from your visa. The multiple entry tourist visa is valid for six months. When you enter the country you have 60 days to either leave again or extend your visa. In Chiang Mai, we extend our visa for 30 days giving us a total of 90 days until we have to leave again. When you leave this is referred to as a visa run. Some do this by land, others by plane, and some even by boat. There are many ways to do the visa run.
The cheapest is to travel by land on a cheap bus to another country. The easiest is by airplane. It all depends on what you’re looking to do. Also, be aware that when you enter a surrounding country you will have to pay the appropriate visa fees to enter.
How do you stretch your METV to stay for 9 months? Well, your visa is good for 6 months so when you do your last visa run, be sure to enter before the expiration date. Then you have 60 days and extend for an additional 30 days for a total of 90 more days. 6 months + 90 days = 9 months. The current cost of a multiple entry tourist visa is $200 for US citizens.