Working legally in Thailand: the recommendation for Thailand Expats


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June 17, 2011



The seminar was organized in Chiang Mai on June 7, 2011 to give information to local expats how to work legally in Thailand. Helping Hands radio program from NBT, the host of this seminar, invited the head of the Work Permit Department at the Labor Office Mr. Rhuchuchai Potha and Immigration Investigative Division officer, Mr. Witthaya Singmanee to be the lecturers of the seminar.

The head of Work Permit Department explained the legal definition of “work”, acknowledged by the Labor Department, is ‘to engage in work by exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits’ meanwhile if there is clear intent to work with a goal to make profits from that labor, either on the part of the foreigner or of the business, that will also be defined as ‘work’.




Mr. Rhuchuchai expatiated about a temporary permit to work in Thailand less than 15 days that it is free from his office and considered on a case by case basis; for instance, who wishes to perform a one-off show for a charity or something else but he supports performers who wish to perform legally, and will be happy to approve their applications even if those once are considered on a case by case basis. Besides, working over 15 days requires a legal work permit, he added. 

The head of Work Permit Department illustrated a volunteer work which requires a work permit that he could offer advices to charities those are looking for volunteers and willing to sponsor people. For any worker who wishes to work at multiple organizations, he clarified that an initial work permit is required but it is possible to add an employer or job to the work permit once it has been issued and this would also apply to musicians who wish to show in different places.

He added that there is no work permit for freelance work and that must be sponsored by a company. However, specialise offers advices to clients or markets overseas would be acceptable if they did not offer that advices to Thais or foreigners in Thailand.

Lastly, he introduced that a company started by a Thai person which employs and pay social security for at least 4 Thai employees can offer one work permit for a foreigner without a requirement of a registered capital for 2 million baht and Work Permit Department of Labor Office currently offers alternative periods of work permits; 1-3 months for 750 baht, 6 months for 1,550 baht and one year for 3,100 baht.

Subsequently, The Immigration officer, Mr.Witthaya Singmanee addressed the issues of overcrowding at the Immigration office in Chiangmai by informing that a budget of its expanding has been requested. He admitted there are problems on a long queuing and the ratio of officers to foreign residents is quite high even the officers work as fast as they can and reach capacity in some busy days. He also said that he once has submitted the project to the Immigration Bureau for the permission to set up the fast track service for longer term foreign residents in Chiangmai but the project was refused.







He recommended retirement visa for foreigners who are 50 years old or over and have either 800,000 baht in a Thai bank or a pension of 65,000 baht a month those must be certified by the Consulate and/or related agencies of both. He developed that the money must be in the bank for a minimum of 3 months on the first application. Permanent residence was also introduced for foreigners who obtain a non-immigrant visa for 3 years and either working in Thailand, having invested in Thailand or married to a Thai national that Permanent residence requires a work permit to work also, he added with the Head of work permit department.

The issue of musicians who had been arrested and investigated while they were performing jam sessions has been raised in this seminar. The head of work permit department elucidated this venue always offered regularly and publicly advertised shows and this show clearly obtained a benefit from their performance that officers also didn’t swoop and arrest people without ensuring that the performance was not a jam session but it was a regular occurrence. He reiterated performers who wish to offer one-off shows for free should apply for 15 day permission at the Work Permit office.



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