Acquiring a non-immigrant visa
In order for a non-citizen to secure a work permit in Thailand, they must first apply for and secure a non-immigrant visa. Generally, there are two types of visas applicants can look at before going on to apply for a work visa.
A single-entry visa guarantees that a non-citizen can enter Thailand once within the three month period following their date of application. It is important to remember that the period starts no the date of application and not on the date of approval.
This shouldn’t worry applicants, however. The speed at which these applications are usually reviewed means one can secure a single-entry visa within two business days of applying for one, provided they meet the visa requirements.
If non-citizens wish to obtain a single-entry visa, they will need to be in possession of a passport or travel document that is valid for a minimum of six months and contains at least two compleltely empty visa pages.
Along with their passports, applicants must provide a copy of their passport’s main page which shows their identifying photo, full name, date of birth, place of birth and the expiration date of the passport. Once these documents have been compiled, an applicant will need to pay around 36 USD at time of writing to process their application.
If the review is successful, the applicant may then proceed to applying for an official work permit.
Similar to a single-entry visa, a multiple-entry visa grants non-citizens the ability to enter Thailand. The difference, of course, is that a multiple-entry non-immigrant Thai visa allows for a stay of up to one year, twice as long as the single-entry visa, and this time starts from the date the visa is issued, not the date of application.
Another key distinction is that a multiple-entry visa requires visa holders to exit and re-enter the country of Thailand at least once every 90 days. They may do this by sea, air or land travel but must do so at least once during that period of 90 days if they wish to see out the visa’s full one year term.
For non-citizens who simply need a non-immigrant visa in order to apply for a work permit, the choice between single and multiple-entry will largely depend on the type of work they are doing and what additional requirements they might have in order to work in the country.
Thailand also predominantly reserves this visa category for citizens or permanent residents of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. For citizens of countries outside of that preferred four, there is still an avenue to apply for a multiple-entry visa, and they are advised to contact their representative embassies as well as their local travel offices to review the options available to them.
Those applying for multiple-entry visas will similarly need to be in possession of a passport with at least a 6 month validity from the date they intend to arrive in Thailand, and will additionally need an invitation or confirmation letter by the organisation sponsoring them to clearly state the intended purpose of their travelling to Thailand.
Applicants will also need to provide supporting documents requested by the Royal Thai Embassy, an embassy fee and proof of their financial funds and travel itinerary.
The work permit itself is of course the most important document, but is naturally facilitated by a visa that actually allows non-citizen foreign workers to be in the country. After all, a work permit guarantees ones legal rights to work in Thailand, and only under predetermined conditions – it is not the document that provides legality to be in the country in and of itself.
The permit grants foreign works permission only to perform the job they applied for and only to the registered employer listed on their permit. It does not guarantee a foreign worker the ability to change jobs during or after the time and workplace regulations on their permit. If one seeks employment outside of the scope of their work permit, they must inform the embassy and seek council, which will likely require a new permit application with a registered sponsor.
Given that the permit is only applicable for the job and sponsored company listed on it, foreign workers who have their contracts terminated before they run their full course will need to have all their documentations readily on hand as well as a means to return to their country of citizenship.
While the invalidity of the work permit is not entirely grounds for removing someone from the country provided their visa requirements are still being met, foreign workers can find it hard to remain in the country during a re-application process if they do not have sufficient savings to accommodate them or it their place of employment is not contracted to provide an exit package.
Any employer that wishes to employ foreign workers needs to be registered to sponsor expatriates with the Thailand government.
If a company wishes to become a sponsor, there are several requirements they must meet before they can register as one and thus provide job opportunities for foreign workers.
The foremost requirement for qualifying companies is to have a registered capital of at least 2 000 000 baht, per foreigner, which is approximately 66,000 USD at time of writing.
Companies will also need to ensure that they paid income tax to the Thai Revenue Department in the last 3 years. The amount paid needs to be above the minimum threshold of 5 000 000 baht, and a company will be allowed to hire 1 foreign worker for every 5 000 000 baht it pays in income tax.
Similarly, a registered company wishing to sponsor foreign workers must have 4 Thai citizens under its employment for every 1 expatriate it wishes to hire through a work permit.
The expatriates contract and salary will also need to be arranged in such a way that they are able to pay the income tax of a minimum of 18 000 baht to the state.
All these conditions are imposed upon companies to ensure the integrity of Thailand’s foreign worker policies by ensuring that companies are compensating workers with rates that can sustain their visit while also paying due tax to the state and ensuring employment opportunities for Thai citizens.
If a foreign national wishes to work in Thailand but does not meet some of the above requirements, a work permit can still be considered if they are an expatriate working in certain positions in marketing research, investment consulting and employed under international financial institutions approved by the Bank of Thailand, among other positions detailed on the official Thai Embassy website.
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Aster Lion is an Employer of Record (EOR / PEO) & Payroll provider headquartered in Thailand that can assist with Thailand visa & work permit application, employee contractor management and payroll solutions. You can reach out to us for any inquiries on how we can assist you with your staffing & employment requirements in Thailand.