Integrity Legal

15th Sep 2009

Thailand Work Permit Extension

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For those present in Thailand on a Thai business visa, or another type of Thai visa (except for the F visa), it is incumbent upon the foreigner to obtain a Thai work permit if he or she wishes to take up employment in the Kingdom of Thailand. That being said, Thai work permits are generally only granted with a one year validity. There are exceptional instances where this is not the case. For example, BOI companies can get work permits for their employees that have a validity of two years. In any case, if a foreign national has a work permit in Thailand and wishes to work past the permit’s initial validity, he or she will need to obtain a Thai work permit extension.

A Thai work permit extension is somewhat similar to a Thai visa extension. In both cases, the original document is issued with a short term validity (usually one year, although work permits can be issued for three, six, nine, or twelve months at the individual officer’s discretion). After the permit expires the foreigner will no longer be legally entitled to work in the Kingdom.

In order to obtain a work permit extension, the foreign national must submit an extension application to the Thai Ministry of Labour. Depending upon the makeup and details of the Thai company, it may be possible to submit a work permit extension application to the One Stop Service Center. Upon application approval the work permit will be extended according to the duration approved by the officer.

At each application for extension, the underlying employment will be reexamined to ensure the employment falls in line with the relevant provisions of the Thai foreign business act, the US-Thai Treaty of Amity, and the Thai Civil and Commercial code. There are many protective measures in Thailand which restrict foreigners from certain occupations. Accordingly, non-Thais are not allowed to conduct certain types of activity. Therefore, one must be careful when deciding upon the duties to be undertaken in any type of employment in order to make sure that none of the activities in the work permit are restricted under Thai law. Since work permits must constantly be extended, there is always a possibility that one officer will consider a foreigner’s occupation to be in accordance with Thai law, while another officer will consider the same activity to be in contravention of applicable employment regulations.

Working in Thailand is a daunting proposition for some as the bureaucracy can seem overwhelming. However, it is always a good idea to make sure that one is legally employed in the Kingdom as unlawful employment could lead to civil, criminal, and immigration sanctions. It should also be noted that the Ministry of Labour has proposed an increase in work permit fees. When the fee increase will take effect is still unknown at the time of this writing.

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