Thailand's Visa Maze – Applying for a Non-Immigrant Visa

Thailand's Visa regulations require a non-immigrant visa for persons planning a longer stay in the land of smiles than a normal tourist visa would allow. It is also essential for those intending to work in the kingdom. Applications should be made through the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country or, if already residing in Thailand, a Royal Thai Embassy in a neighboring country.

If entering the kingdom on a tourist visa or 30-day visa exemption stamp it is not normally possible to transfer these to a non-immigrant visa. It is necessary to leave the country and re-apply.

Anyone who falls into the following, categories will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Those

  • intending to work in Thailand (teacher, employee or opening a business)
  • intending to carry out volunteer work in Thailand
  • intending to study in Thailand
  • who are a dependant (or child) of a foreign spouse who is already working in the country,
  • who are married to a Thai citizen
  • who are 50 years old or above and wishing to retire in Thailand

The three most common types of non-immigrant visa are

Non-immigrant B – for working either as an employee, a company director or an English teacher.

Non-immigrant O – for working as a volunteer worker/teacher, a dependant of a Thai national or dependant of a foreign spouse/parent who already holds a non-immigrant B visa and a Thai work permit.

Non-immigrant Ed – an educational visa for those studying at a recognized Thai school or university.

Examples of visa application forms (and others) can be found on the Immigration Bureau website.

Thailand's Visa Requirements for English Teachers

Of late, Thailand's visa regulations have become much stricter regarding the employment of English teachers . Along side the standard visa application for a normal employee, a prospective teacher needs to show a Criminal Record Clearance Certificate obtained from the local police in their home country and must show proof of relevant teaching certificates / degree.

Please see the Royal Thai Embassy website for details of Visas for English Teachers.

Note that it is illegal for any person to work in Thailand, paid or otherwise, on a tourist visa, even as a volunteer. A non-immigrant visa must be obtained, without which it is not possible to get a Thai work permit.

Thailand's Visa Requirements for Retirees

The procedure for applying for a retirement visa (Non-immigrant O-A) is quite straight forward providing you have the necessary finances to qualify. You must be 50 years old or over and show proof of a 65,000 Baht monthly income from outside Thailand or a fixed sum deposited in a Thai bank (currently 800,000 Baht). Again these regulations are subject to change, so check for updated information.

Currently there is some debate as to whether the spouse of a retiree on a non-immigrant O visa has to meet separate retirement visa criteria in their own right, or can apply for a dependant visa as the spouse. The Thai Immigration Bureau will have the most recent updates.

As immigration rules are constantly being modified it is important to get the latest information from the Immigration Bureau or the Royal Thai Embassy's website. Thai Visa .com is an excellent source of information for changes to Thailand's visa regulations, but it is not an 'official' government site.

Thai Visa for Tourists

Thai Work Permit Explained

How the British Embassy Can Help

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