Visas, Work Permits and Immigration

One of the most stressful things for many people moving and working overseas is organising appropriate documentation such as visas and work permits. When preparing to move to Thailand I did a lot of research and a little bit of stress about this, but to date it has been relatively easy (although the process is definitely not complete yet).

First of all, there are plenty of resources on the web about the options for visas in Thailand. The site I visited most was, and for visa advice (including the visa forum) it has been an extremely useful source of information. Other sites include the Royal Thai Embassy in Australia (the Sydney Consulate has some detailed info) and Department of Employment in Thailand (see the Work Permits info).

With this information in hand, these are the steps I went through:

The first thing is to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa Type B. This is the main type of visa for people wanting to work in Thailand. You get it from outside of Thailand – I got mine from the Royal Thai Consulate General in Adelaide. To get a type B visa I needed a letter from my employer confirming my position, a plane ticket to Thailand and passport. Thammasat organised the letter (with appropriate contents – one was in English and the other was in Thai, and I think they said different things) and sent it to me. So about 3 weeks before I fly out I head to the Consulate and handover my documents, and collect the visa the following week. The only problem I had was that the Honarary Consular General in Adelaide pushed my hard to get a 12-month multi-entry visa ($AU225) instead of the 3-month single entry visa ($AU90). I was advised by Thammasat (and confirmed on ThaiVisa forum) that I would only need the 3-month visa, and on arrival would get a 1-year visa extension. So I followed the unis advice, and so far they have been proven correct.

On arrival in Bangkok, I got through Immigration with no worries, getting a 3-month permission to stay.

Once I started work, Thammasat got copies of all my documents and proceeded with my Work Permit application. The Visa gets you into the country, but you need a Work Permit to be allowed to work legally. Apart from 30 minutes signing documents (most in Thai and so I had no idea what I was signing – I quickly got used to that), I didn’t have to do anything for the Work Permit (Thammasat did it all) until today.

This morning I went to the Pathumthani Employment Office with Khun Rapeepan to collect my Work Permit. Again, a few more signautres and payment of money and it was done. About 15 minutes in the Employment Office, which luckily was about 5 minutes from Bang Kadi.

Now I have my Work Permit (which is until the end of my current Visa – mid December 2006) I can get my 1-year visa extension and then get a Work Permit extension. For that I need to head into central Bangkok to Immigration for the Visa then back out to Pathumthani Employment Office. I will let you know when its all complete (UPDATE 20 Nov 2006: went to Immigration for the visa extension of stay and work permit extension and all went well). Of course, it is never really complete – there are 3-monthly reporting of address to Immigration (again, taken care of by Thammasat) and renewal of visa and work permit every year. And of course, other things like applying for tax number and social security.

Although it may sound complicated, in summary, its been a pretty straightforward process, made easy by the fact my employer is doing most of the hard work.

Total cost so far: