Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa
If you are entering Thailand for a purpose other than tourism (see tourist visa), you need to have a Non-Immigrant Visa stamped in your passport before you arrive. There are three main types of visa that concern the majority of foreigners entering Thailand:
There are also quite a few other categories of non-immigrant visa (see list below). The different visa types entitle you to different rights concerning your length of stay in Thailand. In the past, Thai embassies and consulates were lax in issuing non-immigrant visas, however, tighter restrictions have been implemented requiring visa issuing authorities to enforce a check list of documents before a non-immigrant visa can be issued. These include a letter of invitation from the prospective employer including the company’s profile and tax registration information as well as a letter of approval from the appropriate government agency or department (i.e. ministry of labor or education). For full list of requirements, contact the nearest embassy or consulate or see http://www.mfa.go.th/web/2482.php?id=2492
To work legally in Thailand you need to have a Non-Immigrant ‘B’ Visa as well as a work permit. However, you must have the visa first before you can apply for the work permit. If you are coming to work in Thailand you must obtain the visa before you arrive, and technically must have obtained the work permit before beginning work. It is recommended that you apply for a non-immigration visa in your home country.
If you are bringing your spouse or children with you, they will need Non-Immigrant ‘O’ Visa. This visa type is a catchall category; the “O” is for “others”. This visa is also issued to foreigners who plan to retire in Thailand and can be converted to Non-Immigrant O-A (long stay) Visa.
Non Immigrant Visa Yearly Extensions
Non immigrant visas can be extended for up to one year without leaving the country, granted certain requirements are met i.e. work permit for B type, transcripts for ED type, and income proof for O type. Note that O category one year extensions have a minimum annual financial requirement of 400,000 baht in a Thai bank account or 40,000 baht monthly income based on support for Thai spouse and 800,000 baht or 65,000 monthly income based on retirement.
Until recently, unmarried foreigners supporting a Thai child who met the 400,000 baht annum financial requirements could apply for and extend a Non Immigrant Type O visa, however, this option is no longer available, and requires foreigners under 50 who wish to extend a non immigrant visa on a yearly basis to be legally married to a Thai national. The new changes, however, allow foreigners over 50 with a Thai child (acting as sponsor) to qualify for a dependency extension with no minimum financial requirements.
If you are already in Thailand, you generally need to leave the country in order to apply for a non-immigrant visa. It’s better to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate in Europe, Australia, North America, or in your country of residence rather than countries in the same region as Thailand. In addition, Consulates are often more obliging than Embassies, and applications can often be made by mail to the Consulate.
There are three entry options for Non-Immigrant Visa:
1) Single Entry (all visa types)
This visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and allows a visitor to enter Thailand for a single period of up to 90 days after which they must depart. A further visit will require a new visa which can only be obtained from a Thai Embassy or Consulate outside Thailand. However, it is possible to extend the single entry visa a further 30 days without leaving the country by applying for an extension at the Immigration Office. The application fee is 2,000 baht (60$USD) or equivalent.
2) Multiple Entry (O and B)
This visa is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and allows a visitor to enter Thailand on as many occasions as required for stays of up to 90 days (unless extended) within the validity of the visa. Multiple entry visas can theoretically be extended for up to 15 months. To do this, you need to leave the country and return just before the 12 months is up. Your new entry stamp will entitle you to a further 3 months taking the total life of the visa to 15 months. The application fee is 5,000 baht (150$USD) or equivalent.
3) Three Year Multiple Entry (Business Only)
The validity of this visa is for 36 months from the date of issue and allows for as many entries as required for stays not exceeding 90 days. Just as the One year multiple entry visa, employment on this visa alone (without a work permit) is strictly prohibited. The application fee is equivalent of 10,000 baht (300 $USD) and relevant documents (i.e. business partner correspondence, tax records, etc.) may be requested during application. This visa can only be issued in a Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country or one that has jurisdiction over your home country.
Categories of Non-Immigrant Visa
- Business visa (corporate and education employment) (B)..
- Business approved visa (B-A).
- Diplomatic visa (D).
- Mass media visa (M), issued to accredited press representatives.
- Educational study or observation (ED).
- Expert visa (EX), issued to those performing skilled or expert work.
- Official visa (F), issued to officials on duty (involving the Thai government).
- Investor visa (IM), issued to foreigners who set-up their companies under the Board Of Investment.
- Investment and business visa through the Board of Investment (IB), subject to the provision of the laws on investment promotion.
- Others (O), including dependents and retired persons (O-A).
- Missionary work or other religious activities (R).
- Research and Science visa (RS).
- Participation in an officially recognized sports event (S).
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