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ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryThailand Corporate LawWhat is the Difference between Thai Business Visa and Work Permit?

What is the Difference between Thai Business Visa and Work Permit?

Transcript of the above video:

In today's video, we're going to be discussing Thai visas and work permits specifically the business visa and the work permit. A common misconception that I get a lot when people contact us to assist with setting up a company or working here in Thailand is people will say “Well can I get a work visa?”

Well strictly speaking, Thailand doesn't have a work visa as such. What am I trying to say here? Well a Thai business visa is specifically intended for those who are undertaking certain business functions within the Kingdom. Now, there are certain times and under certain circumstances where business visa is appropriate for somebody who's just coming in to say “go to meetings” or maybe if there's a foreign parent company or for an affiliate company that has something to do here in Thailand and they're sending in a foreign national to liaised with the local entity. There are certain very limited sets of circumstances where a business visa itself will cover that but anything that is deemed to be labor here in Thailand, undertaking of labor activity here in Thailand requires a work permit.

And a work permit is not inherent to the business visa and it in fact is a totally separate legal document here in Thailand. It deals with a totally separate ministry. Visas are dealt with by Ministry for Affairs outside of Thailand by Royal Thai immigration police under the auspices of Ministry of Interior here in Thailand. And labor matters specifically work permits are dealt with by the Ministry of Labor here in Thailand so these are two different institutions that are being dealt with when you're talking about these two kinds of documents. And moreover, in a lot of ways Labor has something of a different mandate with respect to certifying foreign labor here in the country than say immigration does and in a lot of ways, immigration would do things that are in certain ways.

Sometimes in the process of dealing with getting a business visa and work permit, some of the things that each of the institutions want to see and how they deal with things can sort of run at odds with each other either here. So there is something that's almost bureaucratic tension between these two institutions that deal with these two types of visas or these two types of legal documents.

What I'm trying to get, the point I'd like to get across with this video is understand a business visa does not in and of itself entitle an individual to work in the Kingdom of Thailand. And in certain circumstances, one can have their work permit issued and fall out of proper immigration status. The work permit may be valid for say a year and someone has just a 90 day business visa and they end up in overstay, the work authorization has nothing to do with one’s immigration status.

This can be something of a bugaboo for people who were trying to live and work in Thailand especially for those who are new and don't really understand the overall situation. It can be frustrating because it's like with the United States system if you get a green card to the United States, your immigration status has your labor authorization inherently attached to it. So if you come in the United States on a green card then you have not only the right to remain there but you also have the right to work at part and parcel with your right to remain, part of your residency. This can get even more frustrating in a permanent residence context here in Thailand because those with permanent residents are not necessarily work authorized per se. You still have to maintain a work permit if you wish to work in Thailand even though your immigration status is that of permanent resident. Again immigration status is separate and apart from labor certification status.

So something to think about keep in mind again these are two different institutions and sometimes dealing with both of them can be a little bit frustrating.