Work permit and visa application process in Thailand

The following article outlines the application procedures and criteria for: Thai non-immigrant ‘B’ and ‘O’ visas and visa extensions at the Thai Immigration Bureau; work permits at the Thai Department of Employment, Ministry of Labour; re-entry permits and notification of 90-days’ stay. Examples of key documents required are also noted, such as: company affidavit; shareholders list; financial statements (audited).

19 August 2021

Before entering Thailand

A foreigner wishing to work in Thailand will need to obtain a non-immigrant “B” visa before entering the country. Any accompanying family members (i.e., spouse and/or children) will be required to obtain non-immigrant “O” visas.

Typically, applications for both types of visas are made at Thai embassies or consulates abroad.

Numerous supporting documents are required as part of the application, including:

For type “B” visas:

  • A passport or travel document with at least 6 months validity remaining
  • A visa application form
  • An approval letter issued by the Thai authorities, such as the Department of Employment, the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI), or Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT)
  • A copy of the employment contract between the applicant and the employing company
  • Various corporate documents of the employer, such as the invitation letter, certificate of incorporation, shareholders list, company affidavit, etc.

For type “O” visas:

  • A passport or travel document with at least 6 months validity remaining
  • A vVisa application form
  • Marriage/birth certificates as proof of relationship

Note: The list of documents above is not exhaustive, and the documents required may vary from embassy to embassy.

After entering Thailand

A foreigner entering the country on a non-immigrant visa will be granted permission to stay in the country for a period of not more than 90 days. The work permit application and visa extension must therefore be submitted and approved within that 90-day period.

There are two categories of application and extension procedures:

  • General applications
  • Applications under special laws, such as those applying to the BOI or IEAT

The general application procedure is outlined below.

General work permit applications

In general, work permit applications are made at the Department of Employment. However, if the employer has total assets or registered, paid-up capital exceeding THB 30 million, and if a management position is being applied for, the application can be made at the One-Stop Service Centre.

THB 2 million* of registered, paid-up capital is required for each work permit issued, up to a maximum of 10 expatriate work permits per company. However, this maximum limit can be increased in certain situations, such as:

  • where the employer has paid corporate income tax of not less than THB 3 million in the previous year; or
  • where the employer has not less than 100 Thai employees.

* If the foreigner is married to a Thai and has a marriage certificate, the amount of registered capital required is reduced by half.  

As with the application for the non-immigrant B visa, various documents, both personal and corporate, must be submitted as part of the application process, and it can take up to 7 days for approval to be given. However, if the application is made at the One-Stop Service Center, approval can be given on the same day.

Applying for a visa extension

Visa extension applications can be made either at the Immigration Bureau or, in cases where preferential rights apply, at the One-Stop Service Center.

Key requirements:

  • The applicant must have a valid temporary non-immigrant visa.
  • The applicant must earn the minimum income prescribed by law, which varies by nationality.
  • The employer must have registered and fully paid-up capital of not less than THB 2 million.
  • The employer must be registered for VAT and file monthly input/output VAT returns.
  • The employer cannot be shown to be dormant in its audited financial statements.
  • The employer must have at least 4 Thai permanent staff members for each expatriate employee, as proven by the monthly income tax return (Form PND 1) and Social Security Fund documentation.
  • Thai staff members must earn a minimum monthly salary of THB 9,930 (based on the minimum wage of THB 331 a day), as proven by the monthly income tax return (Form PND 1) and Social Security Fund documentation.

The applicant will need to submit the application, along with various personal and corporate documents, prior to the expiry of the non-immigrant visa (i.e., within 90 days of the date of arrival in Thailand). On the day of submission, the applicant will receive a one-month extension and will need to follow up with the Immigration Bureau until approval is granted. In practice, this takes 1 to 2 months, meaning that, upon approval, the applicant’s visa extension will be valid for another 10 to 11 months.

Re-entry permits

An expatriate holding a non-immigrant or tourist visa who wishes to travel abroad before the expiry of the visa must apply for a re-entry permit with the Immigration Bureau prior to leaving Thailand. This permit will allow the expatriate to re-enter Thailand and stay for the remaining period on the visa. If no re-entry permit is obtained, the visa will be cancelled automatically when the expatriate re-enters Thailand.

Notification of 90-days’ stay  (Form TM.47)

An expatriate who has permission to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time must notify the Immigration Bureau of his/her place of residence every 90 days (counting from the most recent arrival date). This does not affect the validity or duration of the visa. Failure to report will result in a fine ranging from THB 2,000 to THB 5,000.