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For business trips to or short term employment of foreigners in Thailand, this article summarizes the available options regarding the necessary visa and work permits:
1. Business Visa
Foreigners who wish to work, conduct business or undertake investment activities in Thailand must apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa at the Royal Thai Embassies or Royal Thai Consulates-General.
Various categories of the Non-Immigrant Visa are currently provided to meet the needs and qualifications of individual business persons. These include business visa Category “B” and business-approved Visa Category “B-A”:
The Non-Immigrant Visa Category “B” (Business Visa) is issued to applicants who wish to enter the Kingdom to work or to conduct business.
The holder of this type of visa is entitled to stay in Thailand for a maximum period of 90 days. He or she may apply for an extension of stay at the Office of the Immigration Bureau and may be granted such extension for a period of one year from the date of visa expiration.
This type of visa may be applied for at the Embassies or Consulates abroad, but first of all the approval shall be given by the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok before the visa is issued to the qualified applicant. The applicant’s associated company in which he or she will invest in or conduct business with may apply for this type of visa on behalf of the applicant at the Office of the Immigration Bureau. Once the application is approved, the Immigration Bureau will advise the concerned Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Consulate-General via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue the visa to the applicant.
The holder of this category “B-A” visa will be permitted to stay for a period of one year from the date of first entry into the Kingdom.
However, it should be noted that this type of visa is rather uncommon and the practices are lacking clear and specific rules set forth in the law. The process is therefore rather tedious.
2. Work Permit
A foreigner shall apply for a work permit as soon as he engages in work by “exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits“. Working in Thailand is subject to the Working of Alien Act (B.E. 2551).
The work must be eligible and the foreigner must be employed by an eligible employer. It is provided that such eligible employer must be a Thai national, or is legally permitted to conduct business activity in Thailand.
A) Exemptions and Special Cases
However, the Working of Alien Act stipulates certain exemptions. The following occupations explicitly do not require a Work Permit:
- Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, as well as their family and personal servants;
- Members of the diplomatic corps or consular missions, as well as their family and personal servants;
- Persons who perform duties on missions in the Kingdom under an agreement between the government of Thailand and a foreign government or international organization;
- Persons who enter the Kingdom for the performance of any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports; and
- Persons who have received special permission from the Thai government.
Furthermore, it should be note that attending meetings, seminars, lectures, appearing in court, or even buying things for the purpose of export are not considered as “working”.
B) Temporary Work Permit
For engaging in necessary and urgent work for a period of not exceeding 15 days from the date of issuance work permit, according to Section 7 of Alien Working Act B.E. 2521 (1978) and Regulation of Department of Employment B.E. 2546 (2003), the foreign worker may apply for a Temporary Work Permit.
Work related to administration, academic matters and an unlimited period is not considered as “necessary and urgent work”, except in a case where damage may be incurred if the work is not performed in time.
The temporary work permit does not require the company, as usually, to have a registered capital of at least 2 Million THB and employment of 4 Thai staff per one foreign staff. But the company must prove that it is an urgent and necessary work and needs a foreigner to perform on time, and otherwise there would be damages to the company. This kind of work permit can be allowed once but under no circumstances be renewed.
One significant advantage of the temporary work permit is the fast process: if the applicant applies for a temporary work permit, the process should take only one working day (if the application is correct and complete), while for a normal WP the process usually takes, at least, five working days to proceed. The Registrar of Labour Department may impose any condition in the work permit to be complied with by the foreigner.
Before applying for the temporary work permit, the foreign staff must have entered the Kingdom of Thailand with a non-immigrant “B” visa.
C) Work Permit through General Process
If the period of temporary work permit is too short, another option is to apply for a work permit through the general process. This, however, requires a Thai employer with a registered capital of at least 2 Million THB/one foreigner. The foreigner may apply for a work permit for a minimum period of 3 months.
A non-immigrant–B-visa is required for this process.
3. Expedited Process under the BOI Scheme
Furthermore, if the Thai employer is promoted by the Thai Board of Investment (BOI), the BOI may issue a visa and temporary work permit for one month without specific requirements (regarding registered capital or employment of 4 Thai staff).
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the above.