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Pattaya Daily News

06 April 2009 :: 13:04:58 pm 22120

The Light At The End Of The Visa Tunnel

Many of you without valid work permits, retirement visas or any other kind of long-term guaran­teed means of staying in Thailand will have viewed with trepidation the new im­migration policy of reducing the previous 30-day renewable tourist ?on-entry? visa to 15 days. It makes the old style visa runs to Cambodia completely impractical, espe­cially now certain applicants, some with as many as 50 consecutive Cambodian visas on their extended passports, have been refused entry to Thailand.?
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Granted the 90-day restrictions have been lifted, but now the only viable alternatives are both more expen­sive and protracted. Whilst it?s still possible to acquire a 2-month tourist visa by going alone to Laos or Penang, the journeys are gruelling. By bus, the average journey is 14 hours from Pattaya to Nong Khai, for example, or 12 hours by train from Bangkok to Nong Khai.

However, timing is crucial as, if you?re delayed at the Thai border with overstay, or at the Lao border by a multitude of fel­low applicants, leaving little time to actually get from the Lao border to the Thai Embassy in Vientiane, you miss the embassy, which closes at 12pm sharp. The embassy has also been known to restrict entry after 11pm, without warning, if there are many visa applicants. All of whichcan add 2 or 4 days (if you fall foul of the weekend) to your journey, which can spell disaster if you?re on a tight budget.

Polling the various visa-run operators in Pattaya, they have one or two viable al­ternatives to the harrowing self-organised run. Taking Cambodia Inter, Soi Buakhao, as a typical example of a visa-run opera­tor, they still operate the daily Cambodia run for a 15-day visa at the old price of Bt1,900.

They also have three alternatives; the first is a two-day, one night trip by air to Penang, all expenses covered, including taxis, hotel and Malaysian visa for a 3-month tourist visa at Bt11,500. The second is a twin 14-hour mini-bus run to Vientiane at an overall cost of Bt9,500 for a six-month, double entry tourist visa, including hotel; this is also a two-day, one night journey. The third is a considerably less ardu­ous method where you travel to the Cambodian border in 3-4 hours, stay in the casino hotel just over the border for two nights, while the agent takes your passport to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh to get a six-month, double entry tourist visa for you, which you collect the following day and return to Pattaya. This two-day, two-night run also costs Bt9,500, all inclusive.

Cambodia Inter can also ar­range a retirement visa if you?re of the appropriate age for Bt29,000 and they will provide the necessary Bt80,000 bank account provision in the price.


However, if you want a method which is fool proof, doesn?t require frequent laborious border runs (each of which effectively mean wasting days of your life) and can guarantee you a stay of up to 10 years or more in Thailand, then there is a radical new alternative, the Non-Immigrant Educational Visa (Ed Visa).

There are currently two language schools in Pattaya that offer educational visas, the one whose director I interviewed, CTLS, offers a far more comprehensive service. The Ed Visa offers virtually all the benefits of a residence visa, namely the eligibility to acquire


? a Thai driving licence
? medical insurance
? a bank account
The greatest advantage of the Ed Visa, however, is that you can remain in the country without the constant threat of overstaying and what?s more, accord with the desires of the Thai authorities, who themselves recommend this method of long-stay.To acquire an Ed. Visa, you must enroll at the school for a Thai Language and Culture Course of 200 hours, at the rate of four hours per week. This will teach you spoken and written Thai, thus enhancing your communication abilities, endearing yourself to the Thai people and immeasurably enriching your experience of the Land of Smiles, not least because it will reveal the mysteries of Thailand that most foreigners forego through an ignorance of the language and culture.

The teaching method is the latest communicative method, emphasising speaking and is crafted so that all levels of language learners can be accommodated. There is effectively no age restriction; students being eligible from 12-99 and all nationalities are welcome.

The process of acquiring the Ed Visa is simple and guaranteed for all enrolees because CTLS is fully recognised by the Ministry of Education and has all the necessary licences.

The school also has several branches, the one in Bangkok having successfully graduated 500 students over a 5-year period, so they are fully au fait with the procedures. The cost of the course is Bt28,000, payable in two halves.

On enrolling and submitting 12 passport-sized photos, all the necessary paperwork is then completed to acquire a 3-month temporary Ed. Visa, which must be obtained from the Cambodian border.

On returning to Pattaya, further paperwork must be completed and submitted and at the end of the three months, one goes to Pattaya Immigration in Jomtien Soi 5, who will issue you with a one year Ed Visa, which has to be renewed every three months, but again at Pattaya Immigration, no border run ever again being necessary.

At the end of the year i.e. 15 months from initial enrolment, you have to submit to a simple oral Thai exam to obtain a further extension; no one has been known to fail. You then enrol and pay a further Bt28,000 for another year, being able to do the same each year up to five years. After which, you can enrol on other courses at the school to remain eligible. All in, it?s a far better method than constant visa runs and far more beneficial.






Details are available from info@tlslanguageschool.com or in person from CTLS, 202236 Moo 9, Pattaya Central Road (down the side of Carrefour Supermarket).
Telephone : 66 038 416891, 66 038 416892

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Lifestyle

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