Legal Thailand Working Visa and Permits

Thailand Visa assistance

Legal Thailand Working Visa

What we typically recommend

If you are holding a passport from a native English speaking country and hold a degree in any field, we will issue you a non-immigrant visa sponsorship letter to request that you arrive in Thailand on a Non-immigrant visa. Once you complete TEFL the course and are placed in a school your employee can obtain your work permit to work legally in Thailand.

If you are not holding a passport from a native English speaking country we recommend that you arrive on a single entry tourist visa to give you adequate time to complete the TEFL course and meet with your employer to prior to starting at the school. The tourist visa can be converted to a non-immigrant visa in country once you have obtained the proper documents from your employer. Then once you have obtained your non-immigrant visa you will receive your work permit and be able to work legally in Thailand.


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After Entrust (5)

How do I get a Working Visa?

Well, sign up for one of our TEFL Programs and arrive on either a non-immigrant or tourist visa. On the third week of your TEFL training our placement department introduces you to your new employing school to start working as an English teacher. During the remaining time until you graduate you have time to obtain the Non-immigrant sponsorship documents from your employer or us. Once you graduate you simply either convert your tourist visa into a Non-Immigrant in country or take all the sponsorship documents to a Thai Embassy in either Laos or Malaysia to obtain your Non-Immigrant visa and head to your school.



How do I get a Work Permit

Once you have obtained your Non-Immigrant visa and have given a copy of your passport to your employer, then you should have your work permit in-hand within two-three weeks. If not we have our own in house visa and work permit department to help you speed up the process. Once you have your work permit in hand, you’ll never have to leave the country to do a costly border run, just simply renew both your visa and work permit every year in-country.


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Process for working legally in Thailand as a teacher

Degreed Applicant (Native English Speaking Country)
  1. Sign up for one of our programs
  2. We send you a sponsor letter requesting you obtain a non-immigrant visa
  3. Obtain Non-immigrant visa at your local Thai Embassy
  4. You arrive in Thailand activating your visa.
  5. Complete the TEFL Program and your employer will organize your work permit
  6. Once you have your work permit in hand, your visa will be extended one year from entry
  7. No need to leave the country unless you want to

Option 1 – Obtain a work permit through our partner schools or agents
You obtain a valid work permit through one of our partner schools or agents, which will extend your non-immigrant visa for one year not having to leave the country to do costly visa runs. This process usually takes 4-6 weeks.
Option 2 – Obtain a work permit through one of our partners
You obtain a valid work permit through one of our partners for an additional admin legal fee, which will extend your non-immigrant visa for one year not having to leave the country to do costly visa runs. This process can be done while you are sitting in our TEFL class learning to be a world class teacher.

Non-Degreed Applicant (Or From a Non-Native English Speaking Country)
  1. Sign up for one of our programs
  2. Obtain a tourist visa at your local Thai Embassy
  3. You arrive in Thailand activating your tourist visa.
  4. Complete the TEFL Program and obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa sponsorship Package from your Employer or us
  5. Leave the country to either Laos or Malaysia to obtain the Non-Immigrant visa from the Thai Embassy
  6. Return to Thailand activating your Non-immigrant visa and give a copy of your passport to your Employer
  7. Your employer will start the process to obtain your work permit
  8. Once you have your work permit in hand, your visa will be extended one year from entry
  9. No need to leave the country again unless you want to

Option 1 – Exemption Letter
You obtain an exemption letter from the school requesting that you be issued a non-immigrant visa on the grounds that they could not find a degreed applicant to work at their school.

If the exemption request is approved the school will provide you a non-immigrant visa sponsorship package to take to a Thai embassy outside Thailand (Laos or Malaysia). Upon your arrival back at the school they will process your work permit and extend your visa up to one year not having to leave the country to do another costly visa run. This has become more widely available since the military took over as they just want everyone to be legal and accounted for.

Option 2 - Obtain a work permit through one of our partners
You obtain a valid work permit through one of our partners for an additional admin Legal fee, which will extend your non-immigrant visa for one year not having to leave the country to do costly visa runs. Working legally in Thailand
Option 3 – Ed Visa (Student Visa)
You obtain an ED visa (student Visa) to study Thai Language six hours a week or take a university class while you are in Thailand. The duration of the ED Visa is usually 6 months at a cost of 20,000 Thai Baht or 12 months at a cost of 40,000 Thai Baht, which can be obtained through a language school.

This option is not suited for our training course as the ED visa requires that the training period be at least 90 days and requires a Thai national element such as a Thai citizen teaching you something. As our TEFL course is only 3 weeks long and all our trainers are native English speakers (non-Thais) then this is not the correct visa for you. Also the ED visa cannot be converted in country, so you must leave Thailand cancelling your ED visa (wave bye bye to all that money you spent for it) to obtain a working non-immigrant visa to start the work permit process.

The positive: You are able to stay in Thailand for the duration of your visa not having to leave the country to study Thai Language or take a university class.

The Negative: Upon your 90 day reporting at your local Thai immigration you will have to pass an exam to demonstrate that you are in fact studying Thai language. The exams are separated into four levels to coincide with duration Thai language training from simple conversation to reading and writing. If you do not pass the exam, your visa is canceled on the spot and you are given 24 hours to vacate Thailand. At this time you can purchase a seven day extension for 1,900 Thai baht showing evidence in the form of a ticket that you fact plan to departure from the Kingdom.

The Negative: You are NOT permitted to engage in any activity that would earn you an income in any shape or form. As this being said your passport is stamped with “Employment Prohibited”, so you cannot work on an ED visa legally even for one minute! If found working on a Student visa, you may be fined, imprisoned or black listed.

Option 4 – Tourist visa
You continue to stay on a tourist visa, while in Thailand.

The positive: You are able to stay in Thailand for the duration of your visa enjoying Thailand, Thai culture, it amazing beaches and people as a tourist.

The Negative: You will have to do costly and time consuming visa and border runs to maintain your tourist visa. You are limited to 3 or 4 tourist visa renewals before you are given a letter and stamp in your passport that you need to get on an appropriate visa.

The Negative: You are NOT permitted to engage in any activity that would earn you an income in any shape or form.

What is the process to obtain a Visa for Thailand?

A Single Entry Tourist (SET) or Non-Immigrant Visa gives you up to 90 days of stay in Thailand to travel and take a TEFL course in Thailand. If on a tourist visa you would have to extend it for an additional 30 days at 1,900 Thai baht at a local immigrant office to equal 90 days of validity. This will give you ample time to complete your teacher training course. Unlike Entrust TEFL, many TEFL/TESOL providers don’t provide placement after graduation, so if you decide not to go with us (Why wouldn’t you? We’re awesome!) you’ll need that extra time to do interviews with prospective employers and wait in huge lines of 100s of teachers all competing for the same job.

It is illegal to work on a tourist or ED (Student) visa while in Thailand just like any country worldwide, so you’ll need to obtain a non-immigrant visa and a work permit prior to working at a school. Once you accept a job and are hired by the school, the school will provide you with the sponsorship documentation you’ll need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Once you return from a Thai Embassy with your non-immigrant visa in hand, the school will process your work permit, which typically takes about 10 working days and you can start working as a teacher.

You are solely responsible for your own visa and legal status in Thailand, just like anywhere. Your tourist visa (60 days + 30 day extension) or Non-Immigrant Visa gives you up to 90 days of stay in Thailand, which is done in five easy steps.

Step 1: Get your Tourist or Non-Immigrant visa from the Thai Embassy

Get your visa from your local Thai Embassy or Consulate

Things to take with you to your local Thai Embassy or Consulate:

  1. A pen (blue or black)
  2. Passport with at least 6 months of validity
  3. One recent visa photo ( 4 x 6 cm)
  4. A copy of your air ticket, e-ticket or itinerary (Note: You may be required to provide proof of your departure via an Air ticket, bus, train or other form of transportation)
  5. A copy of your passport
  6. Indication of financial means (This would be a copy of a recent bank statement, no more than a month old, with at least 20,000 Baht per person.)
  7. The visa application

Please Check for updated Visa regulations or requirements prior to you visiting the local Thai Embassy.


Step 2: Arrive in Thailand
Your visa is activated once you arrive in Thailand; this is your first entry, giving you 60 days of validity for a Tourist Visa and 90 days for a Non-Immigrant Visa. You will be required to fill out an Arrival Card (as below) so make sure you have a pen handy, also remember what type of visa you are on. For Example: If you are entering Thailand on a Single Entry Tourist Visa, please mark that the purpose of your visit is Holiday regardless what your thoughts may be down the line. If there is a possibility that you do plan to stay for Education, Business, Marriage or whatever you will have to go through the correct visa process to obtain that visa for that purpose at that time..then you can check that box when you are physically holding that visa.




Step 3: Get your 30-day extension (If on Tourist Visa)
You may extend your tourist visa for an additional 30 days to total 90 days in Thailand. This can be done at any local immigration office; some police stations are also set up to do this. The cost for the 30 day extension will be 1,900 Thai Baht.
Things to take with you to your local immigration office:

  1. Your passport (with at least 6 months of validity remaining)
  2. A pen (blue or black)
  3. One visa photo
  4. Your physical address in Thailand
  5. 1,900 Thai Baht

Step 4: Doing a Border Run - Activating your 2nd or 3rd Entry
Once your visa has expired, you must leave the country in order to obtain a new visa. In Bangkok we recommend Thai Visa Service.

Double Entry Tourist Visa
If you are on a Double Entry Tourist Visa and need to activate your 2nd entry, just do a simple border crossing at one of the four valid border check points. You can either choose to do this on your own or use a visa van service to shuttle you through the whole process. This Border Run can be done any day of the week and only takes a few hours.

To safeguard your second entry you may be required to purchase a one-time exit and re-entry permit for 1,000 Thai baht at the Thai immigration check point upon stamping out of Thailand. Let the immigration officer know that you are coming back and that you will be reactivating the second part of your visa. You must let the officer know this, since failure to do so may void your second entry, only giving you 15 days entry by land. (Sometimes the officer may want to let you slide as they would rather not do the extra paperwork.)

There are four official Thai border exit/entry check points.

Northern valid exit/entry points:

  • North East: Nong Khai is the border crossing between Thailand and Lao PDR. The Lao entry visa and entry stamp will cost approximately 1,550 Thai Baht depending on your nationality. You will also have to purchase a bus ticket to go across the bridge between Thailand and Lao; it’s about 20 Thai baht each way.
  • North West: Maesai is the border crossing between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). The Myanmar visa stamp will cost approximately 500 Thai baht. You’ll simply walk over the bridge to the Myanmar check point, get your passport stamped, and then walk back to Thailand.

Central valid exit/entry points:

  • Ban Laem is the border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia. The Cambodian entry visa and stamp will cost approximately 500 Thai baht. You’ll simply walk over the bridge to the Cambodian check point, get your passport stamped, and then walk back to Thailand.

Southern valid exit/entry points:

  • Sadeo is the border crossing between Thailand and Malaysia. The Malaysian entry stamp is free to western and Common Wealth countries. There is a fleet of motorbike taxis that will drive you to the Malaysian check point to get your stamp, and then back to Thailand. You’ll never even have to get off the back of the motorbike! This costs about 20 Thai baht.

Please note that Overstaying your visa is a serious offence!

Step 5: Doing a Visa Run - Get a New Visa processed in a neighboring country
Once you have exhausted your visa or are in the process of obtaining a non-immigrant visa simply head to a Thai Embassy in either Lao or Malaysia.

An overview of the process:

  1. Head up to northern Thailand and visit the Thai Embassy in Vientiane Lao PDR.
  2. Head down to southern Thailand and visit the Thai Embassies in Malaysia.
  3. Jump on a local visa van company, who will sort out everything for you. An example of such a company is Visa Van.
  4. If you would like to continue to be a tourist, simply request another single or double entry tourist visa.
  5. If you would like to start working to fund your travels, then request a non-immigrant visa and hand over your sponsorship documents.

The process at the Thai Embassy is also pretty straight forward:

The Thai Embassy only accepts new visa applications in the morning and issues them the following afternoon. You’ll need to organise accommodation for the night as your visa won’t be ready for pick-up until the next day (Afternoon). Once you have collected your visa, you’ll head back to the Thailand border, filling out a new arrival card and activating your new visa in the process.

At this point, you’ll be back in Thailand following either the regulations of the Tourist visa (60 + 30 days) or the Non-Immigrant visa (90 days).

Step-by-step, then:

  1. Cross the border and head to the Thai embassy. It’s easy to share a taxi as practically everyone is going to the same place for the same purpose.
  2. Arrive early and get a number. Depending on the embassy, you may wait an hour or two.
  3. While you are waiting for your number to be called, fill out your visa form and get a photocopy of your visa entry stamp along with two visa photos. Keep in mind that you’ll need to provide the address and phone number of your accommodation that night, so make sure you have that information and a pen handy.
  4. Once your number is called, hand your visa application to the immigration officer.
  5. Pay your visa fee.
  6. Come back the next afternoon to pick up your visa.
  7. Head back to the border to activate your visa by entering Thailand – and, done!

How do I get there?
There are many ways to get to the border crossings, such as Trains, Buses, Airplanes, etc.

Visa Van services

Visa Van services are probably the best for your first time as they hand hold you the entire way and are able to quickly fix any problems that may arise. Visa Van companies are abundant through out as every foreign person at some time must do a Visa or Border run. These companies do Visa and Border runs EVERY SINGLE DAY with dozens of different nationalities and different types of visas issues, so they know what they are doing. An example of such a company is Visa Van.

Bus or Train

Jump on a Bus or Train heading North to Nong Khai or South to Sadeo. From the Nong Khai Bus or Train station the border crossing is a 10-15 minute walk or you can get a Songthaew or Tuk Tuk to take there. Heading to the Sadeo border, take a Bus or Train to Hat Yai, where you can get a van to take you to either Penang or Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

by Air

Flying is always the easiest way to go. If you are heading to North to the Thai Embassy in Vientiane simply book a flight to Udon Thani (UTH), then take an Airport shuttle from the airport to the border crossing at Nong Khai, takes under an hour (costs 300 Thai baht). If you are heading South to the Thai Embassy in Penang or Kuala Lumpur simply fly there, get in a taxi and head to the Thai Embassy.

Visa Overstay Penalties:

Visa Overstay Penalties

Visa Overstay Penalties:

Those overstaying past the expiry date of their visa are fined 500 Thai baht per day for every day they overstay.

In speaking to immigration using the example if a person was 95 days overstayed, how would that be handled? The Immigration officer stated that if they came into an immigration office or check point (in country, land crossing or airport) and surrendered, they would be “put in a room” (detained) until transport out of the Kingdom and would be forbidden from re-entering Thailand for one year.

Thai overstay


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