In Thailand, Business Visa and A Work Permit are two separate applications.
A Visa allows foreigners to enter and temporarily remain within Thailand under condition granted.
A Work Permit is a legal document that states a foreigner's occupation, job description, position and the location of work place. It is a license to perform a job or an occupation allowed for foreigners in Thailand. And it allows foreigner to legally work in Thailand.
Foreigner who engages in work in Thailand without having the work permit shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a term of maximum five years regardless of whether he/she obtains a valid visa.
To qualify for a Thai Work Permit foreign employee must work with one of these following legal entity;
A Company or legal entity with a paid up registered capital of at least 2,000,000 Baht.
A Thailand Branch/ Representative or Regional office of juristic person registered under foreign law which operate in Thailand that brought foreign investment into Thailand of no less than 3,000,000 THB
A Thailand Branch/ Representative or Regional office of juristic person registered under foreign law which operate in Thailand before 30th October 2002 that can not provide evidence of foreign investment funds transfer but shows the balance of bank statement no less than 3,000,000 THB for the entire period of last 6 months.
A Legal entity mentioned in 1. – 3. operating with technology that Thai people do not have knowledge or prompt operating abilities to compete with foreigners. Under the condition that they must have technology transfer plan to at least two Thai employees within the specified period.
A Legal entity mentioned in 1. – 3. with a specific skill to complete the project within a fixed period.
A Legal entity mentioned in 1. – 3. In the entertainment business by occasional hiring within a fixed period.
The requirement mentioned in 1. – 3. Is reduced by half if the foreign employee is married to a Thai national.
Work Permit and Business Visa (Non-Immigrant B) application Procedure
Step 1 Obtain 90 days Non-Immigrant B visa
If the applicant does not obtain Thai permanent residence permit or Non-Immigrant visa they must apply for 90 days Non-Immigrant B visa before applying for a Work Permit.
If the applicant is outside of Thailand the employer (Thai legal entity/company) must file the application request to obtain a pre-approval letter issued by the Ministry of Labour (WP3)
Once WP3 is issued, an invitation letter and employer's supporting documents must be sent to the foreign employee in order to apply for a 90-day Non-Immigrant B visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate-General.
If the applicant is already in Thailand with tourist visa. He/she must apply for change visa type at least 15 days before tourist visa expires at the Immigrant office in the province where the employer company located.
Step 2 Apply for Work Permit (WP1) in Thailand
After the prospective foreign employee has obtained the 90-day Non-Immigrant B visa, he/she must file the work permit application at the department of employment, the ministry of labour before 90 days Non-Immigrant B visa expires.
For those obtain WP3, he/she must come to Thailand to apply for a Work Permit within 30 days from the WP3 issuing date.
Step 3 Apply for One Year Business visa
Foreign employee who obtains a valid work permit can apply for business visa extension (One Year Business visa) at the local immigration office where his/her workplace is located during the last 30-day validity period of 90 days Non-Immigrant B visa.
Step 4 Apply for Re-entry permit
Re-entry permit (Single/ Multiple) is suggested to obtain after visa extension (One year visa) is approved. This is to secure visa validity when the foreign employee travels outside of Thailand. If he/she leaves Thailand without having a re-entry permit, the visa will be cancelled.
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