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Thai and US Visas

Traveling to Thailand or taking a loved one back to the USA from Thailand are two endeavors which require preparation and patience.

In comparing and contrasting the Immigration systems in both the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand, it becomes immediately apparent that Thailand’s immigration system is far less complex than that of the USA. Further, the Kingdom of Thailand allows much greater immigration access than does the United States. Currently, Thailand allows people from many different countries to enter the Kingdom visa free. Those entering the Kingdom without a visa are granted entry based upon a visa exemption. These entrants are required to leave the country usually within 30 days. However, should one enter Thailand using a visa exemption at an Immigration checkpoint on one of Thailand’s land borders, then they will only be granted 15 days presence in the Kingdom.

Those who wish to remain within the borders of the Kingdom of Thailand for a longer duration can apply to obtain a Thai visa at a consular post outside of the Kingdom of Thailand. Common Thai Immigration Categories are: Business, Tourist, Education, and “Other” which is used as something of a catch-all category.

By comparing the Immigration process of Thailand with the USA, one can easily see that the methods of controlling immigrant activity are not similar. Where the Thai model is relatively permissive, the United States has been in the process of tightening Immigration regulations. At one time, it was possible to obtain a United States tourist visa without being subjected to a visa interview. After the tragedy of 9/11 regulations have required that those seeking tourist visas to the USA be interviewed by an American Consular Officer.

Royal Thai Immigration does not have a visa category for foreign fiances of Thai Citizens. Bi-national married couples wishing to reside in Thailand are permitted to apply for an “O” visa, if one of them is a Thai Citizen or resident in Thailand. However, a visa based upon an intention to marry a Thai citizen will not likely be approved. Conversely, many foreign fiancees of US Citizens travel to the United States of America each year. Thailand sees many fiancee visas processed through the American Embassy in Bangkok. Thai-American couples who make it through the fiancee visa process generally get married in the United States and the Thai citizen takes up permanent residence in the USA. Unlike Thailand, US permanent residence is somewhat easy to obtain for those married to a US Citizen.

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