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Since 15th June 2016, it is possible for foreigners to obtain a visa (extension of stay) and work permit in Thailand for a period of two years, under the Board of Investment (BOI) or the Industrial Estate Authorized Thailand (IEAT) schemes. In specific cases, a period of even four years may be granted.
1. Two-year visas and work permits
Foreigners employed by BOI or IEAT promoted companies may obtain two-year visa and work permits from the One Stop Service Centre, and would not need to deal with the Labour Department or Immigration Office. The process is quicker and can be completed in a single day, after the online registration process has been completed.
The process of visa and work permit application is as follows:
1. The company intending to bring in a foreign skilled worker contacts the BOI and IEAT office to issue an invitation letter. This application is carried out online and can take between 1 to 2 weeks.
2. The invitation letter issued by the BOI or IEAT office should be delivered to the foreigner along with supporting company registration documents, for the foreigner to apply for a non-immigrant business visa (type B only) (90 days) at a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad.
3. The company should submit an online request to “open a position” for the foreigner to work under the company, where details of the foreigner’s position, job description, etc. will need to be provided. The consideration process for opening a position takes approximately one week.
4. Once the position is opened and approved, the application for the foreigner’s work permit and visa extension can be submitted online. This process usually takes between 3-4 business days.
5. The final step involves the foreigner physically going to collect the work permit booklet from the Employment Office and having his visa extended at the Immigration Bureau, both located at the One Stop Service Centre for Visas and Work Permits. The visa and work permit may be granted for periods of 1 year or 2 years depending on type of business.
2. Four-year visas and work permits
Moreover, the BOI announced that certain foreign workers employed by either International Head Quarters (IHQ) or International Trading Centers (ITC) may be granted visa extensions and work permits for up to 4 years (together with their dependents).
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