- Overview of UK Immigration from Thailand
- UK Spouse Visa for Thai Nationals
- What Are the Eligibility Criteria for the UK Spouse Visa?
- UK Family Visas for Thai Nationals
- UK Student Visa for Thai Nationals
- UK Graduate Visa for Thai Nationals
- UK Work Visas for Thai Nationals
- How Do I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of UK Immigration from Thailand
Over 50,000 Thai-born nationals are estimated to be residing in the UK today, which represents a fairly significant portion of the East Asian community in the country.
Of this number, a significant portion of settlement cases are given to those with Spouse visas. A large portion of Thai-born nationals in the UK also enter through Student visas, with the UK being one of the most popular destinations for Thai students looking to study higher education.
Alongside Spouse visas and Student visas, there are also a wealth of other work and family visas that are available to Thai nationals in order to immigrate to the UK, many of which can lead to permanent settlement through indefinite leave to remain.
Thai nationals also have the opportunity to gain British citizenship without having to renounce their Thai citizenship, which can be a huge boon for those who wish to put roots down in the UK while still holding onto their rights and freedoms as a Thai citizen.
UK Spouse Visa for Thai Nationals
The Spouse visa is one of the most popular visa options for both Thai nationals and foreign nationals in general who are looking to settle in the UK.
It allows eligible Thai nationals to settle long-term in the UK with their eligible spouses or partners. Those in a civil partnership or in unmarried relationships of at least two years can also be eligible for this visa.
In order to be eligible, your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner must be one of the following:
- A British or Irish citizen
- Settled in the UK, such as through indefinite leave to remain, pre-settled status, settled status or proof of permanent residence
- An individual with a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
- An individual with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
The Spouse visa will allow you to stay in the UK for an initial 2 years and 9 months, after which it can be extended for another 2 years and 6 months.
Once you’ve been in the UK for a total of 5 years, you’ll be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, after which you’ll be permanently settled in the UK without having to renew or apply for residency.
What Are the Eligibility Criteria for the UK Spouse Visa?
The Spouse visa has a number of important eligibility criteria that all applicants must adhere to.
For example, the eligibility criteria for this visa include the following:
- Your relationship with your spouse must be genuine and subsisting, which means that you must not be looking to obtain a visa for illicit purposes, such as evading UK immigration rules
- You and your spouse must be over 18
- You and your spouse must intend to live together permanently in the UK with adequate accommodation that doesn’t require access to public funds
- You must meet the minimum financial requirements, which will normally be a shared income of at least £18,600
- You must meet the minimum English language requirements
Of these, proving that your relationship is genuine and subsisting is arguably the most difficult criteria to fulfil. You will have to show a range of documents and proof to demonstrate to the Home Office that your relationship is authentic and lasting.
These can include bills, bank statements or tenancy agreements to show that you live at the same address, or evidence that you share financial expenses with each other.
UK Family Visas for Thai Nationals
If the Spouse visa isn’t a good fit for you, you may be eligible for another type of UK Family visa if you already have a family member living in the UK.
Similar to the Spouse visa, a Family visa will allow you to settle long-term in the UK if you have an eligible family member who is a British or Irish citizen, or someone who has settled status in the UK.
Eligible family members you can join in the UK include the following:
Note that if you’re applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner, you’ll only be given an initial 6 months’ worth of leave in the UK, during which you must get married or enter into a civil partnership. After you do so, you’ll then be able to apply for a long-term Spouse visa.
The eligibility criteria for the Family visa will heavily depend on which family member you’ll be applying as. For example, as already mentioned, applying as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner will mean that you’ll have to register your marriage or civil partnership in the UK before you can apply to settle.
All Family visa routes can lead to permanent settlement in the UK.
UK Student Visa for Thai Nationals
A UK Student visa allows anyone over the age of 16 to travel to the UK to study in a further or higher education institution.
It is an increasingly popular choice for Thai nationals to come and study in the UK, as it’s also a good way to visit the UK and experience what UK life and culture is like without having to commit to living here long term.
In order to be eligible for a Student visa, you must have been offered a place on a course in an institution that’s capable of sponsoring foreign students.
You must also have enough money to support yourself and pay for the course, as well as being able to speak, read and write English to a sufficient degree.
The earliest you’ll be able to apply for your visa is 6 months prior to the start date of your course. However, most Student visas are normally approved in a matter of weeks, so you should have plenty of time to prepare for your trip abroad.
Student visas are only valid for the duration of your course and do not directly allow holders to settle permanently in the UK. However, you may wish to apply for a Graduate visa before your studies finish if you wish to continue living in the UK.
UK Graduate Visa for Thai Nationals
The UK Graduate visa allows foreign nationals to stay in the UK for up to 2 or 3 years after completing an educational course.
You’ll be eligible for this visa if all of the following apply to you:
- You’re in the UK
- You’re currently on a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
- You studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
- Your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course
After successfully applying for this visa, you’ll then be able to stay and work in the UK for 2 years (3 years if you’ve completed a PhD or other doctoral qualification).
You won’t be able to extend this visa or apply for permanent settlement with this visa. However, you will be able to switch to another type of UK visa if you’re eligible, such as a work visa or a Family visa.
UK Work Visas for Thai Nationals
The UK has a variety of work visas to help facilitate Thai nationals to come and work and settle in the UK.
Of these, the most popular is the Skilled Worker visa, which is the UK’s general work visa aimed at those who work in a wide variety of professions and industries.
You must have a valid job offer from a Home Office-approved sponsor in order to be eligible for this visa, as well as meet minimum English language and financial requirements to prove that you can support yourself and your dependents while in the UK.
Other UK work visas tend to be more specialised and include the following:
- Scale-Up Worker visa
- Health and Care Worker visa
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
- International Sportsperson visa
- Minister of Religion visa
All of these work visas will eventually allow you to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
How Do I Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is the UK’s term for long-term permanent residency. Anyone with ILR has the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely, without needing to apply to extend their current permission to do so.
There are a few requirements you must meet before applying for indefinite leave to remain, some of which will depend on which UK visa you have.
However, the main eligibility criteria is that you must have spent a certain amount of qualifying time in the UK before applying. This may be 2, 5 or 10 years, depending on your own personal circumstances.
You must also ensure that you meet the minimum English language requirements and also pass the Life in the UK Test, which is a short test of British history, society and customs.
You can apply for ILR online through the Gov.uk website once you become eligible.
Note that if you spend more than 2 continuous years outside of the UK, it’s possible to lose your ILR status. For this reason, it’s best to ensure that you’re committed to living and settling in the UK long-term before applying.
How Can IAS Help?
Thousands of Thai nationals make the leap of moving to the UK every year, whether for work, study or family, and the numbers are steadily rising.
If you’re a Thai national looking to apply for a UK visa and move to the UK, it’s important that you’re well-equipped with the knowledge and information you need to do so safely and securely. IAS can help.
We are a team of experienced and empathetic immigration advisers who work with people looking to move to the UK and apply for UK visas. We have decades’ worth of experience in the legal and immigration sector, and we’re committed to helping each and every one of our clients achieve their goals.
Whether you need help with liaising with the British Embassy in Thailand as part of the visa application process, need assistance with understanding the terms and conditions of your visa, or if you need bespoke concierge support to help transport your belongings in Thailand to the UK.
Last modified on July 17th, 2023 at 7:36 am
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The largest organisation supporting Thais in the UK is Samaggi Samagom, which was first established by King Rama VI in 1901. The group has close ties with the Thai Embassy in London, and runs a variety of events, seminars and meetings to connect the UK Thai community.
Other groups also include the Anglo Thai Society, and a variety of Thai Buddhist temples located throughout the country.
Thailand allows for its citizens to hold dual citizenship, which means that it’s entirely possible for Thai nationals to apply for British citizenship without having to renounce their Thai citizenship.
You’ll only be eligible to apply for British citizenship after spending at least 5 years in the UK, with at least a year of this time needing to be with indefinite leave to remain.
After this time, you’ll be able to apply online to become a fully naturalised British citizen.
In order to be eligible, you’ll need to have passed the Life in the UK Test, meet the minimum English language requirements, and also be of good character.
You also should not have:
- Spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the 5 years before your application
- Spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
- Broken any UK immigration laws
The cost of UK visas will vary greatly depending on the type of visa you’ll be looking to apply for.
As a general guide, however, below is a table with the application fees of all of the visas mentioned on this page:
|UK Visa or Settlement Permission||Cost|
|Indefinite leave to remain||£2,404|
|Family visa||Between £1,538 and £3,250|
|Skilled Worker visa||Between £625 and £1,423|
|Scale-Up Worker visa||£715|
|Health and Care Worker visa||Between £247 and £479|
|Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)||Between £625 and £1,423|
|International Sportsperson visa||Between £625 and £719|
|Minister of Religion visa||£625|