Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thai Work Permit’

9th August 2018

In recent months, the rules upon which the regime for issuing and maintaining Thai work permits and visas have been undergoing some changes. However, the permanence of these changes remains to be seen and the practical implications of these changes are also open to speculation. Hopefully the following posting with provide some clarification with respect to where work permit and visa rules currently stand.

Work Permit Restrictions Appear to be Loosened

Since the promulgation of the Emergency decrees regarding work permits in Thailand analysts seem increasingly convinced that regulations regarding time, place, and manner of work in Thailand have loosened. In the past, Thai work permit regulations (and the enforcement agencies associated therewith) viewed the rules very strictly when it came to the specific locations where foreigners could undertake labor, the specific functions foreigners could perform, and the timing of when a foreign worker could begin working. For example, foreign temporary workers had to await issuance of a work permit book or temporary work document in order to begin working. Meanwhile, those issued with long term work permits were at one time restricted to performing their job only within the premises of the business acting as the work permit sponsor. Later, the geographic scope of labor endeavor was expanded to allow foreigners to undertake work throughout a specific province in Thailand. However, under any circumstances the foreign national with work authorization had to be circumspect in their endeavors as the work activities they undertook had to fall within the boundaries of the job description specified within the provisions of the work permit itself.

Pursuant to the provisions of the second emergency decree regarding the management of foreign workers in Thailand it appears that many of the restrictions regarding geographic scope of activity have been lifted. Meanwhile, the strict scrutiny of job functions appears to be a thing of the past as well (although a list of occupations restricted to Thai nationals is still in force so long as the activity in question is not specifically in violation of that list the foreign worker should be free from sanction). Furthermore, it appears that certain temporary workers who are brought into Thailand for a short period of time may be able to perform their function in a much more immediate manner compared to the past as, depending upon circumstances and subject to the aforementioned list of restricted activity, many workers may be able to immediately begin performing their functions.

The Return of the One Year Multiple Entry Visa?

It would seem that there is another possible change to Thai regulations regarding work authorization and business visas in Thailand. Apparently, regulations now stipulate that some of those working for a foreign company in Thailand (such as a Representative Office) are no longer required to obtain a work permit. This new exemption apparently only extends to Directors of such organizations. Furthermore, it appears that so-called Amity Treaty Companies (those corporations certified as American and therefore accorded protections pursuant to the US-Thai Treaty of Amity) are now subject to such exemption. Under such circumstances the directors of such companies are able to apply for a 1 year multiple entry visa from their country of origin. As of the time of this writing, this blogger has yet to personally deal with a matter arising under these new rule changes, but the creation of new immigration options is always noteworthy. It should be noted that these regulatory changes appear to be exclusive to Labor matters. Thai immigration regulations have not changed with respect to the rules regarding visa extension in the Kingdom. At the present time a work permit appears to still be required for those wishing to remain in the Kingdom long term via a Thai business visa extension application.

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6th November 2017

In a recent announcement in the Royal Thai Gazette, it came to this blogger’s attention that new regulatory protocols are likely to soon take effect with respect to foreign labor in Thailand. Below is an English translation of the announcement, for the full un-translated announcement please see the aforementioned link:

Dated November 2,

Order of the Security Council

On Proving the Identity of foreign labour

As the system which is presently used for screening some category of people who enter the Kingdom cannot provide enough proof of identity which is needed to protect the stability of the country. Presently, many people are coming into the country to work as labour, both legally and illegally and it is not easy to confirm the identity of the labour force. The collection of the data which is needed to confirm the identity is presently confusing because the responsibility for the information is scattered between various departments depending on the duty and authority of the person involved.  Also, different methods are used creating confusion and delays in accessing the data if needed.  Therefore, a committee will be set up to oversee the collection and storage of data from the workers and set up a date base with all the history clearly shown. A system will be set up which will be legal and also maintain the confidentiality of the information and also prevent the information from being used against the wishes of each person. This is to prevent any destruction of the peace and also to ensure the safety of the country, in labor, economy and society.

The order following Matra 265 of the Constitution of Thailand and section 44 of the Constitution of Thailand (temporary) is as follows:

1. Committee refers to the Committee who will study how the data should be kept.

“22 provinces along the coast refer to Krabi, Chantaburi, Chachoengsao, Cholburi, Chumporn, Trat, Trang, Nakornsritammarat, Naratiwas, Prachuab, Pattani, Panga,  Petchburi, Phuket, Ranong, Rayong, Songkla, Satul, Samutprakarn, Samutsongkram, Samutsakorn and Surattani.

2. The member of the Committee are comprised of …………[list of committee members]

3. Duties  and Authority of the Committee

(1) Consider a method to set up a system to prove the identity of the immigrant laborers by collecting and keeping the data of the laborers in the fishing sector which the Harbor Department and the Labour Department are both handling at the moment. (2) Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority to collect the data which contains the relevant information on the identities including setting the criteria and method to be used and also linking the various agencies involved in collecting, maintaining, and proving the identities of the immigrant laborer so the data can be accessed conveniently and efficiently.

(3). Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority of saving the data under no (1) and (2) so it is safe and trustworthy enough to use in proving the identity of the laborers.

(4) Carry out duties delegated by the Prime Minister

4. The method of saving the data referred to in 3 (1) should commence with data of immigrant laborers in the fishing industry and sea food factories in the 22 coastal provinces. This must be completed by 31 March, 2018.

The committee may expand the area to include additional provinces as instructed by the Cabinet.

5. With regards to labor in other sectors, the committee should advise the Cabinet as to which department is responsible for the collection and saving of data and the time frame required to complete data base.

6.  The data on immigrant laborers already collected by the Labor Department prior to this new announcement should continue to be used until instructed otherwise by the Committee.

7. The Department of Budget should consider how much budget the Committee and departments authorized by the Committee will require to carry out the instruction.

8. If the Prime Minister or Cabinet member deems it necessary, the Council for Peace (not sure of the name) are allowed to change these instructions.

9. This instruction comes into force on the day of announcement.

The above translation should not be construed as a definitive interpretation of the material in Thai, but is simply provided for informational purposes of a general nature.

Although it appears that this announcement pertains specifically to migrant labor in the fishing sector it remains to be seen whether or not this announcement could have an impact upon labor matters in Thailand more generally. Meanwhile, as has been pointed out in prior postings on this blog regarding Thai work permit protocols: Thai labor regulation, and the enforcement thereof, has become increasingly strict in recent months. A previously proposed overhaul of the labor regulations and fines has been put on hold until the beginning of 2018 in order to allow employers and migrant labor time to adjust to the new regulations. How the enforcement mechanism will operate from January 2018 onward remains to be seen, but if the above announcement is any indication, the Labor authorities in Thailand appear committed to tracking and monitoring foreign workers in Thailand.

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29th July 2017

If there is one overriding notion that can be gleaned from the whole of this blog it should be this: over time the process of obtaining immigration and work authorization benefits (regardless of the nation in which such benefits are sought) tends to get more time consuming and difficult over time.

In Thailand, over the course of recent months there have been dramatic changes to both the Thai visa process as well as the process by which Thai work permit authorization is granted.

Initially, this trend began with the promulgation of the so-called “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” policy which was initiated by a newly appointed Thai Immigration Chief. At first, the program focused upon those who were clearly in Thailand with less-than-optimal intentions. In fact, the beginning of the sea change in immigration policy could be said to have occurred when there was a rather significant round-up of suspected criminals and over-stayers which culminated in significant numbers of deportations. Quickly thereafter it became clear that those wishing to effectively live in Thailand using things such as 30 day stamps and tourist visas would be a thing of the past as a clear cap was placed on issuance of 30 day visa exemption stamps and those with multiple tourist visas began to become the subject of enhanced scrutiny at border check points. This scrutiny has been recently evidenced by the fact that those entering Thailand on tourist visas with a history of multiple tourist visas are being asked to show that they have 20,000 baht in their possession at the time of entry into the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, recently promulgated legislation has created more severe penalties with respect to working illegally in Thailand. Enhanced civil and criminal penalties are at the forefront of the recent changes. As of the time of this writing a sort of moratorium has been placed upon the implementation of these new rules, but it has been made very clear by relevant authorities that these new provisions are set to come into effect as of January 1, 2018. It is this blogger’s opinion that the moratorium was only enacted to stem the exodus of migrant workers from neighboring countries and will effectively have no bearing upon foreign workers in Thailand from Western countries or countries further afield than those which border the Kingdom.

What can be taken from these developments? First, certain aspects of the immigration and work authorization regimes were outdated and needed to be upgraded. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have made it clear that they expect those who wish to live and work in Thailand to make appropriate efforts to obtain proper immigration and employment documentation. Where there was something of a lax attitude regarding these issues in the past such laxity cannot be expected to exist moving forward. Therefore those wishing to live and work in Thailand in the future are well advised to do substantial research before traveling to Thailand and after ascertaining the correct legal documentation, take necessary steps to only be physically present in Thailand on appropriate documentation.

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26th June 2017

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there are new penalties associated with violation of the laws and rules regarding foreign nationals working in Thailand as set forth by the Thai Ministry of Labor. Specifically on June 22 of 2017 an Emergency Decree was promulgated stipulating some new rules and new penalties associated with both new and old regulations. Please see below for a distilled translated summary of the important points noted in this recent decree:

  1. Should an employer employ a foreign national to work in a position specifically restricted to Thai nationals, such employer shall be fined between 400,000 and 800,000 Baht per employed foreign national.
  2. Should an employer allow a foreign national to work outside the scope of the employment specifically noted in the work permit they shall be fined no more than 400,000 Baht for each employed foreign national.
  3. Should a foreign national work without first obtaining a work permit or work in a position specifically restricted to Thai nationals, they may be subject to imprisonment of no more than five years and/or fined between 2,000-100,000 Baht, or both.
  4. Should a foreign national work on a matter which is deemed immediate and important and do so without acknowledgment of a Labour Ministry officer by receiving form WP-10, they may be fined not more than 100,000 Baht.
  5. Should a foreign national work outside the scope of the job description set forth in the work permit, they may imprisoned not more than 6 months and/or fined not more than 100,000 Baht, or both.
  6. If an individual, through deceptive means, explicitly or implicitly advertises that they are able to bring a foreign national to work in Thailand in a dmestic capacity without a work permit, they may be imprisoned 3-10 years and/or fined 600,000-1,000,000 Baht, or both.
  7. Anyone found operating as a foreign job placement agency without a proper license shall be subject to possible imprisonment for 1-3 years and/or fines ebtween 200,000-600,000 Baht, or both.
  8. There appears to be a deposit/pre-authorization requirement being imposed by this decree, but the implications of this section are somewhat unclear. We will update this posting or post again to provide clarification on this point if necessary.

It should be noted that the above summary and translation is for informational purposes only and should be viewed as neither exhaustive nor as a substitute for fully analyzed legal research and translation. Those interested in delving further into this topic are urged to view the full decree in its entirety by following this link provided by the official wesbite of the Royal Thai Gazette.

As has been noted, in recent weeks and months there has been increased scrutiny from the Royal Thai Immigration Police with respect to Thai business visa applicants in the form of surprise inspections. This recent announcement regarding heightened penalties associated with imporperly obtained Thai work permits leads this blogger to infer that heightened scrutiny and possible inspections could be imposed upon foreign nationals working in Thailand in the relatively near future.

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11th March 2017

It recently came to the attention of the administration of this web log that the subject of the Value Added Tax (VAT) has been a hot news item in Thailand in recent days as the current Prime Minister was noted speculating about the advantages to be gained by the Thai government if the VAT were to be raised one percentage point from the current level of 7% to 8%. To quote directly from The Nation’s website:

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has floated the idea of raising the value-added tax (VAT) rate by one percentage point from the current 7 per cent to 8 per cent to raise an additional Bt100 billion in annual tax revenues to finance various public projects.

Meanwhile, it became unclear from further reports whether the Prime Minister was simply expounding upon the advantages to be gained by an increase in VAT or if a change of policy was being discussed. To quote from the official website of the Bangkok Post:

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the government plans to keep VAT unchanged at 7% for another year when the previous extension of the last period for keeping VAT at 7% ends on Sept 30. VAT would not increase during the term of this government, he added.

Setting aside the issue of what the Prime Minister’s intentions were with respect to his comments regarding VAT increase (and it would appear from this writer’s perspective that he was indeed simply commenting upon the benefits to be garnered by the government should VAT be increased to 8%) it appears that at least for the foreseeable future the VAT in Thailand will not be increased.

For those who have had experience doing business in Thailand VAT is known as a fact of business-life. In fact, those foreign nationals wishing to setup a Company in Thailand are well advised to note that in order to get a Thai work permit associated with such companies the relevant corporate entity oftentimes must be registered for VAT. Therefore, unlike Thai businesses which may or may not require VAT registration, foreign companies in Thailand will often be VAT registered and therefore an increase in VAT will have a substantial impact upon such enterprises.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of recent changes to American policy with respect to US Immigration it appears that a number of new Immigration Judges have been impaneled to deal with the staggering backlog of United States Immigration cases in the Immigration Courts. To quote directly from Reuters News Service:

The Department of Justice is deploying 50 judges to immigration detention facilities across the United States, according to two sources and a letter seen by Reuters and sent to judges on Thursday. The department is also considering asking judges to sit from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., split between two rotating shifts, to adjudicate more cases, the sources said. A notice about shift times was not included in the letter.

Clearly, the new Administration in the USA is stringently enforcing immigration laws as evidenced by the recent stories of increased deportations, travel bans, and heightened scrutiny of immigrants (both Green Card holders and other immigrants) at ports of entry in the USA. It seems rather reasonable to infer that US Immigration matters are likely to be more difficult and time consuming to process in coming weeks and months.

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10th April 2016

In previous postings on this blog the recent policies of the Royal Thai Immigration Police regarding visa overstayers in Thailand have been noted. In follow up to those articles, it should be noted that Thai immigration officials have recorded a sharp decline in the number of people physically present in Thailand beyond the expiration date of their visa. In a recent Bangkok Post article, the drop in overstay was noted:

The more than 39% decline, from 810,522 in October last year to 486,947 in March, shows “our new measure is effective”, Immigration Bureau chief Nathathorn Prousoontorn said on Friday.

While immigration officers chalk up a victory in the campaign to thwart overstaying foreigners it appears that a new issue has come to the forefront. In another article in a more recent edition of the Bangkok Post suspicious trends in Thai Marriage registration numbers were reported:

Bureau chief Nathathorn Prousoontorn said several foreign nationals are believed to have resorted to sham marriages as a loophole to stay in the country…The [Royal Thai Immigration Police] received a tip-off from the Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that at least 150 Thai women in one district of a northeastern province had married foreigners in the past few months.

Clearly, the recent spike in marriages and the recent change in immigration overstay policy cannot be assumed to be coincidental. However, the upshot of these developments is the very strong probability that all upcoming Thai marriage visa applications (otherwise referred to as O visa applications) will be more heavily scrutinized when compared to similar applications lodged in the past. This blogger can personally attest to the fact that since policy changes at Thai immigration in late 2015 the process of obtaining or renewing a Thai business visa has been a more intensive endeavor as Immigration officials scrutinize all business visa applications and supporting documentation extremely thoroughly. Therefore, this recent news regarding marriage scrutiny could easily lead one to infer that future marriage visa extension applications and renewal applications could require more documentation and the backlog for issuing such documents could become exacerbated as a result of the increased scrutiny and documentation requirements.

As a general rule, this blogger has advised those interested in remaining in Thailand to understand that the process of obtaining a long term Thai visa and/or a Thai work permit is becoming increasingly complex. As a result of this increased complexity, the notion that the Thai immigration process is something that is quick and easy is simply a fallacy. Thai immigration matters are arguably as complicated and time consuming as immigration issues arising in countries such as the USA or the UK. Those undertaking Thai immigration matters for the first time are strongly encouraged to retain the assistance of a competent professional.

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2nd March 2016

In a recent posting on the website of the National News Bureau of Thailand the possibility of issuing Thai work permits with a validity of two years was discussed. To see the announcement please read this quotation from the aforementioned website:

The Cabinet has approved the extension of the work permit for foreign nationals to two years while giving employers four months to bring their workers to apply for the document. Director-General of the Department of Employment Arak Prommanee revealed that Cabinet approval has been granted to the proposal of the committee in charge of foreign labor management policies to have the life of foreign workers’ temporary work permit, or the pink card, extended from one year to two years. As a result, workers whose permits will expire on March 31, 2016 will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for two more years, pending the nationality verification process. To apply for the new permit, employers will be required to take their foreign employees to report themselves at registration spots designated by the Department of Employment within 120 days from April 1. The Cabinet also assigned the Department of Employment to adopt regulations in support of the permit extension within 120 days, with consideration to be given to the prevention of foreign labor shortage, national security, prevention of permanent residency, assurance of workers’ protection and establishment of an efficient management system.

It should be noted that the announcement above seems unclear regarding the type of work permit discussed. Some foreign nationals, such as Burmese, Cambodian, and Lao nationals, have a different work permit regime compared to other foreign nationals and from the above information it is difficult to ascertain whether the proposed 2 year Thai work permit scheme is meant for all foreign work permits or a specified subset. Further information will be provided for clarification should a further announcement be made.

Meanwhile, while it appears from the above announcement that Thai officials may be poised to implement more favorable conditions regarding foreign labor regulations, Thai immigration rules are poised to become much more stringently applied. New immigration rules have been on the horizon for some time now as evidenced by a January 2016 articlein the Bangkok Post discussing the proposed rule changes:

In just under two months, the Immigration Bureau will officially begin arrests and tough new penalties against foreign law-breakers. The programme is in the hands of Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, one of the most experienced immigration officers. He has spent some time drawing up new laws, rules and regulations, as part of the first major overhaul of immigration enforcement in decades.

Those overstaying a visa in Thailand will soon face strict fines and penalties. Moreover, those caught committing a crime while overstaying could see themselves barred from entering Thailand for as long as ten years. There are some who would argue that these changes are long overdue. For decades, Thailand’s immigration rules have been quite lax when compared with the rules and regulations of other countries (notably the United States which has, since the mid 1950s, had severe bars for overstaying enshrined in the provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act), but that era appears to be coming to an end. In the future, those overstaying more than 90 days could see themselves barred from reentering Thailand for varying periods of time depending upon the amount of time they have overstayed.

In a more recent article in the Bangkok Post further clarification was provided regarding how far immigration officials are seemingly willing to go in enforcing the soon-to-be enacted rules for overstayers:

Overstaying just got serious. After decades of treating visa-overstay less seriously than jaywalking, there now will be real and lasting consequences…the computerised blacklist operators at every airport and border crossing are going to kick out those who have overstayed, and not let them back. This is the really new part of the plan – exile.

Finally, notwithstanding the previously noted implementation of stricter overstay rules, it appears that those in Thailand as journalists may face increased scrutiny from immigration. In the aforementioned article, new rules for M visa holders (“M” standing for Media) was discussed:

The Foreign Ministry announced tweaked rules for the M-class non-immigrant visa and extension. Minister Don Pramudwinai himself helped to write, signed off, defended and will oversee the new rules for journalists.

Although presently there are no clear guidelines yet set regarding the new regime for administering M visas the consensus seems to be that M visa issuance may become more selective. Some have surmised that fewer freelance journalists will be granted M visas moving forward. This blog will continue to provide updates on the situation as the rules come into effect and the methods of enforcing new rule changes become clearer. Readers are strongly encouraged to follow the links above and conduct their own research on these matters as failure to adequately understand these policies could lead to problems in the future. New rules for overstay in Thailand are set to be implemented in mid-March 2016.

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26th January 2015

As of the time of this writing it has been announced that applications for Permanent Residence in the Kingdom of Thailand are being accepted. Unlike other countries, authorities in Thailand do not accept applications for residence year-round. Instead such applications are only accepted during specified periods per announcements in the Royal Gazette. The following is the official announcement in English:

Notification of Immigration Bureau

Subject: Admission of application for residential permit in the year B.E. 2557(2014)

According to the notification from the Prime Minister and Minister of interior by approval of the cabinet issued on December, 29  B.E. 2557 (2014) regarding quota of aliens to have residence in the Kingdom for the year 2014 the following stipulations are applied.

 

1. 100 persons of each nationality

Colony or colonies of each country shall be considered as one country while each Sovereign state shall be considered as one country

2. 50 persons for stateless people.

Base on the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979) stipulated that foreign nationals who wish to attain resident in the Kingdom of Thailand may apply for resident permit under the approval of the Immigration Commission and the Minister. The criteria on qualification and conditions of applicants are under consideration of the Immigration Commission.

 

Thus, additional criteria and qualifications of the foreign applicant for residential are issued as follows:

 

1. Qualification of the eligible applicant to be considered for

1.1 Foreign national applicant must hold a passport of his/her own current nationality except the holder of passport which stated as STATELESS person.

1.2    Foreign national applicant must be qualified for each category as prescribed in the Notification of the Immigration Bureau, Subject: Criterion and conditions of foreign nationals’ residential permit consideration dated 26 December B.E. 2546 (2003).

 

2. Time and place for submit the application forms

2.1 The application can be submitted on the following day after the date of this Notification until 30 January 2015 during office hours.

2.2 Place to submit the application: Bangkok: contact at Sub-division 1 , Immigration Division 1, The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty The King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary, 5th December, B.E. 2550 (2007), Building B, 2 Floor, Counter D, 120 Moo 3, Chaengwattana Road, Thungsonghong Sub-District, Lak Si District, Bangkok 10210

In other regions : contact at local or nearby Immigration Office/Checkpoint,

 

3. Application and supplementary documents

 

3.1 Application (Form TM9.)  must be made in person. The photograph is required as well as all of their passports.

3.2 Applicants must submit the supplementary documents required as stipulated for each category.

4. Fees

4.1 A fee for each application is 7,600 baht (Seven thousand six hundred baht only) whether permission is granted or not. Application fee is not refundable.

4.2 If the application is approved by the Immigration Commission, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, the fee for the residence permit is 191,400 baht (One hundred ninety-one thousand four hundred baht only). However, the residence permit fee for spouses and children (under 20 years of age) of aliens who already had the residence permit or Thai citizens is 95,700 baht (Ninety-five thousand and seven hundred baht only).

5. Procedures

Step

Description

Length of time

1

The applicant submits the application form as well as supplementary documents, pay the fee, provide fingerprint

From the next day of Notification until 30 January 2015

2.

The letter requesting checking genuine of documents is sent to relevant authorities for confirmation.

The applicants and those who get involved with the applications will get an appointment card to come for an interview with the immigration officers.

90 days

3.

To grant approval for the residence permit application, the Immigration Commission will take into its consideration the applicants’qualifications in terms of the understanding of Thai language, and personality.

90 days

4.

The application is submit to the Immigration Commission for consideration

120 days

Permanent Residence in Thailand can provide significant benefits to foreign nationals in the Kingdom. Obviously, the most notable benefit is that maintaining a yearly visa no longer is necessary. Meanwhile, the various requirements pertaining to foreign owenership of Thai condominiums is less onerous for those with Permanent Residence. It should be noted that those maintaining permanent residence must still maintain a work permit in order to be employed in the Kingdom although the work permit requirements for those with permanent residence are less onerous compared to those who are not resident in Thailand.

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18th September 2013

Officials at Thailand’s Ministry of Labor are currently in the process of promulgating guidelines pertaining to the issuance of Thai work permits for ASEAN citizens, according to an official report from the Government Public Relations Department. These measures are being implemented in an attempt to better manage what are perceived to be substantial future inflows of skilled and professional labor coming from the other jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For those unaware, the ASEAN economic community (AEC) is currently poised to economically integrate in 2015.

According to officials at the Ministry of Labor, initially work permits may be issued for citizens of other ASEAN nations in twenty-five career fields. This prospective policy is in keeping with the provisions of the ASEAN Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP). Professionals operating in areas involving: computers, advertising, marketing research, research and development, agriculture, telecommunications, management, education, finance, health, translation services, construction, engineering, and transport services (to name a few areas) may be eligible for a Thai work permit. Labor Ministry officials are apparently poised to utilize the National Skill Standard in order to ascertain whether approval of a work permit application for an ASEAN citizen is warranted. This measure is being undertaken in an effort to insure that only qualified workers are granted a work permit. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Commerce are preparing to work in conjunction with the Management System Certification Institute (Thailand) in an effort to set policies aimed at providing temporary status for qualified ASEAN citizens wishing to enter the Kingdom of Thailand.

All of these measures appear to be designed to provide ASEAN citizens with the rights and privileges that come with work authorization in Thailand. It is thought that as ASEAN becomes increasingly integrated larger numbers of foreign workers will descend upon Thailand as increasing numbers of Thai nationals seek employment opportunities in other ASEAN countries.

At the time of this writing, virtually all foreign nationals working in the Kingdom of Thailand are required to obtain work authorization in the form of a Thai work permit. Except in the case of a foreign national married to a Thai, such individuals are also required to obtain a Thai business visa in order to be eligible to apply for a work permit. As can be inferred from the information noted above, notwithstanding the integration of the ASEAN economies, foreign nationals from ASEAN countries are also likely to be required to obtain business visas and work permits before being able to legally undertake employment in the Kingdom.

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29th August 2013

The rules regarding processing and adjudication of applications for one year multiple entry Thai visas appear to have changed. The following was recently posted on the official website of the Honorary Thai Consulate in Birmingham, UK:

With immediate effect all Non-Immigrant Multiple Entry visas can not be issued on the same day, as we require authorisation from the Royal Thai Embassy  in London. Once approval has been granted the visa will be issued.
If your application is declined you will be informed.
Please ensure we have your UK contact telephone number.
All other visas will be issued on the same day as usual  providing we have all the correct documentation.

Although the procedural change noted above may not negatively affect Thai visa applicants, it may be an indication that Thai authorities are more diligently scrutinizing long term visa applications. Some visa issuance procedures have been in a state of flux for some time now, as many Royal Thai Honorary Consulates in the United States have already placed information on their websites which states that only 90 day Thai business visas will be issued and those wishing to remain longer in the Kingdom of Thailand must make a request for a Thai work permit and Thai visa extension.

As noted above, in the past it was possible to obtain one year multiple entry Thai visas from some Honorary Thai Consulates in as little as a day. However, as new non-immigrant multiple entry visa applications appear to be subject to increased scrutiny from Thai Consular Officers it could be argued that more long term Thai visa applications may be denied in the future.

The posting of these processing changes have come shortly after recent reports that Thai visa stickers destined for Thai Embassies and Consulates abroad went missing and that some foreign nationals in Thailand had been found with previously unaccounted for stickers in their passports. Perhaps Thai authorities are implementing stricter visa processing and adjudication rules in an attempt to curtail immigration fraud, or these rule changes could simply be the result of the naturally evolving state of Thai immigration policy. On a related note, it was recently reported that Thai immigration officials are thinking of implementing new E-visa procedures at the various Thai Consulates and Embassies around the world in order to maintain more security in the visa process. In any case, it appears that those seeking long term Thai visas from Thai Consulates and Embassies abroad will see their applications examined more closely compared to the past.

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