Foreign nationals with the non-immigrant O-A visa, sometimes known as a retirement visa, will in the future have to prove they have insurance coverage of at least US$100,000 (three million baht) against Covid-19.
The proposal was approved in principle by the cabinet on Tuesday and Traisuree Taisaranakul, deputy spokeswoman for the government, said it would apply to all holders of the one-year visa.
The new rule follows an amendment to the regulations approved by the cabinet in April last year.
The extra Covid-19 insurance coverage regulation does not apply to other non-immigrant visa categories: marriage, business, educational and media, among others.
At present, holders of the non-immigrant O-A visa must be insured to the tune of just 40,000 baht for out-patient treatment and 400,000 baht for in-patient treatment at a hospital. They are required to purchase Thai health insurance via a dedicated website which is problematic.
Future non-immigrant O-A visa applicants must produce proof they have taken out the far higher insurance against Covid-19 and if they are eligible for state-sponsored welfare or insurance, the same minimum coverage applies.
Those seeking to renew their non-immigrant O-A visas are free to buy the insurance from abroad.
If they have access to state-sponsored insurance, they must submit documentary proof certified by the Bangkok-based embassies of their respective nations or by authorised official of the Foreign Ministry of their native countries.
If someone is denied the requisite Covid-19 insurance because they are deemed to be in an at-risk group, they must present the rejection document as well as proof of financial security, bank account or other health insurance valued at a minimum of US$100,000.
Ms Traisuree said that since the cabinet had approved the new rule in principle the next step would be for the Immigration Bureau to publish full details and make it official.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry will also work to improve the non-immigrant O-A visa application procedure while the Public Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry will be in charge of modifying related regulations and telling the public about them.
Ms Traisuree said the current non-immigrant O-A visa regulations were flawed as expats aged over 70 could not buy insurance in Thailand, causing them to be disqualified from extending their stay in the kingdom.om remaining long-term in the kingdom.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the new insurance requirement applied to holders of all non-immigrant visas. We apologise for the error.