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 one 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 the date of application, and not on the date of approval.
This shouldn’t worry applicants, however. The applications are usually reviewed quickly, which means a single-entry visa can be granted within two business days, provided the applicant meets 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 at least six months and contains minimally two empty visa pages.
Along with their passports, applicants must provide a copy of their passport’s main page which shows the:
Once these documents have been compiled, an applicant will need to pay roughly 36 USD at the 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. This is 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 once every 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 demands of their work and any additional requirements they might have to work in Thailand.
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 these preferred four, there is still an avenue to apply for a multiple-entry visa. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact their representative embassies and their local travel offices to review their available options available.
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. In addition, they need an invitation or confirmation letter by the organization sponsoring them to clearly state the intended purpose of their travel to Thailand.
Applicants will also need to provide supporting documents requested by the Royal Thai Embassy, an embassy fee, 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. Doing so 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, and a means to return to their country of citizenship.
While the invalidity of the work permit is not entirely grounds for removing someone from Thailand provided their visa requirements are still 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 if 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 to provide job opportunities to foreign workers.
The foremost requirement for qualifying companies is to have a registered capital of at least 2 000 000 THB, which is approximately 66 549 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 THB, and a company will be allowed to hire 1 foreign worker for every 5 000 000 THB it pays in income tax.
Similarly, a registered company wishing to sponsor foreign workers must have 50 Thai citizens under its employment for every 1 expatriate it wishes to hire through a work permit. Companies can have a maximum of 5 expatriates under their employment, but no fewer than 50 Thai employees should they wish to hire foreign workers.
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 THB 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. These include marketing research, investment consulting and employed under international financial institutions approved by the Bank of Thailand, amongst others detailed on the official Thai Embassy website.
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