Integrity Legal

19th Mar 2010

Many people ask this author: Why do I need a Thai work permit? There is a common misconception that the Thai Labor and Immigration authorities take a lax stance with regard to unauthorized employment. Many others labor under the misconception that a Thai visa, particularly a Thai business visa, confers the right to work in Thailand. Unfortunately, many people believe that the Thai “mai pen rai” (no worries) attitude extends to those working illegally in the Kingdom. This is simply untrue as Thais view unauthorized employment as a serious violation of Thai law.

In the United States, the expansion of some of the powers of the Department of Homeland Security has resulted in the relatively new phenomenon of Federal agents raiding businesses in search of those aliens working illegally. Operations such as this fall under the mandate of agencies such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service. In the Kingdom of Thailand, the Immigration and Labor authorities are not nearly as sophisticated as their counterparts in the United States of America, but they seem to take their jobs no less seriously.

As a case in point, recently the Pattaya Daily News website is reporting the following:

“A Briton, who was working illegally as a bar cashier at a beer bar in Pattaya’s Walking Street, was arrested by Immigration officials and will be prosecuted under the terms of the Immigration Act dealing with offending aliens.”

A long term expatriate in Thailand would not be greatly surprised by this announcement as most long term residents are used to some of the more draconian measures that are sometimes taken with regard to unauthorized employment in Thailand. With that said, compared to the United States, the Thai authorities are generally fairly lenient on most immigration matters, but there are exceptions and unauthorized employment can be problematic for the person working illegally. To quote the aforementioned website further:

“Pattaya, March 17, 2010, [PDN]: at 1am this morning, a team from Chonburi Immigration Office (which has recently amalgamated the respective Immigration departments of Pattaya and Chonburi), led by Superintendent of Immigration, Police Colonel Athisavis Kamolruth, surrounded [a bar], located [on] Walking Street, as it had come to their notice that there was at least one foreigner working there illegally, without a work permit…The team duly identified themselves as officers of the Immigration Police and asked for [the foreigner's] passport and work permit. When he was unable to produce a  work permit, the Immigration Police took him to the Chonburi Provincial Immigration Office at Jomtien for further questioning...He was duly cautioned that as an alien, temporarily in the kingdom, he was not allowed to work and would be prosecuted for having contravened the law.

One aspect of this article that is interesting to note is the fact that Immigration agencies in Chonburi are consolidating and it would seem that by doing so they are becoming a more dynamic organization with an eye toward better enforcement of Thai Immigration and Labor laws.

For further information about Immigration to Thailand please see: Thailand visa.

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