Thai visa and immigration
A. GENERAL INFORMATION
1. Any alien wishing to enter Thailand, unless otherwise exempted, must obtain a proper visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate prior to arrival in Thailand.
2. Aliens in transit and tourists from the countries listed below are permitted to obtain an entry visa on their arrival at designated entry points in Thailand. An entry visa allows a stay of 15 days.
Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Oman, Mauritius, Poland, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine.
3.Aliens in transit and tourists from the countries listed below are exempted from visa requirements. They are permitted to enter and stay in the Kingdom for 30 days without an entry visa. However, these individuals must obtain an entry stamp on their passports at the immigration checkpoint of entry.
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Vietnam.
4. For a stay longer than 30 days, all aliens must have a valid visa, which can be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate prior to entry into Thailand. The exceptions are nationals of the Republic of Korea, Brazil, and Peru who are currently allowed to stay up to 90 days after obtaining an entry stamp at the Immigration checkpoint of entry. These lists of countries change periodically.
The Immigration Bureau adds and removes countries as circumstances dictate. Therefore, checking with a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate is recommended before travelling.
B. TYPES OF VISAS AND PURPOSES OF VISIT
In Thailand, there are numerous visa categories, with eight major types issued under the Immigration Act. Each category is restricted to a specific purpose. Aliens are advised to strictly adhere to the rules governing each visa category. A visa authorizes entry into Thailand for a specific length of time depending upon the type of visa. The passport will show the date of authorized entry. The permissible duration of stay is always entered in the passport.
1. Transit Visa "TS". Applicable to aliens entering Thailand with an intention to travel on to another country.
2. Tourist Visa "TR". Applicable to aliens visiting Thailand for sightseeing purposes only.
3. Non-Immigrant Visa. Applicable to aliens entering Thailand on a temporary basis for a particular purpose:
."B" - Business.
."B-A"-Business or investment
."IB"-Investment or other affairs connected with an investment under the law governing investment promotion.
."IM" – Investment, which has been approved by the ministries or departments concerned.
"'ED"-Study or observation.
."RS" - Scientific research or teaching in a research or educational institution in Thailand.
."M" - Performance of duties connected with the mass media.
."R" - Missionary work with approval from the ministry or department concerned.
."Ex"- Performance of skilled or expert work.
."0" - Other purposes as prescribed in the ministerial regulations (as dependents, retired persons, sports trainers, or for family reunions, medical treatment, and legal proceedings).
"O-A "-Temporary residence. .
4. Diplomatic Visa "D". Applicable to those aliens entering the Kingdom on a diplomatic or consular mission or for the performance of duties with international organizations.
5. Official Visa "F". Performance of official duties (involving the Thai government).
6.Immigrant Visa (Permanent Residence). Applicable to those aliens entering Thailand for permanent residence purposes.
7. Non-Quota Immigrant Visa. Applicable to permanent residents wishing to leave Thailand and return within a year.
8. Courtesy Visa. Applicable to those diplomatic and/or official passport holders who enter the Kingdom for purposes other than official duties and to those ordinary passport holders who enter the Kingdom in response to an official Thai request.
C. LENGTH OF STAY
Length of stay in Thailand depends on the type of visa:
Transit Visa - not exceeding 30 days
L . Tourist Visa - not exceeding - 60 days
Non-Immigrant Visa – not exceeding 90 days
Diplomatic, Official, and Courtesy Visa - as necessary
D. EXTENSION OF STAY IN THAILAND
.Transit Visa - a transit visa may be extended for 7 to 10 days depending on applicant's nationality.
.Tourist Visa - a tourist visa may be extended for a maximum of 7 to 30 days depending on applicant's nationality.
.Non-lmmigrant Visa - Non-immigrant visa categories "B" or "B-A" are usually extended for a period not exceeding 1 year at a time from the date of arrival except "IM" which shall not exceed 2 years, and "IB" which is generally 2-3 years depending on the recommendation of the BOI and the size of the investment.
The government fee for an extension of a transit, tourist, or non-immigrant visa is Baht 1,900.
The period of stay allowed is always stamped or written in the passport upon arrival in Thailand. Every alien is responsible for checking his/her passport for the authorized length of stay. Any alien who overstays in the Kingdom is subject to a fine of Baht 200 for each day after the expiration date of the permitted length of stay up to a maximum of Baht 20,000. This fine may be paid at the Immigration Division or at the airport upon departure. If an alien cannot or is otherwise unable to pay the fine for overstaying a visa, he/she is subject to detention at the Immigration Detention Center.
F. CHANGE OF VISA
The Thai government gives foreigners who did not get a chance to apply for a Non-Immigrant visa before arriving in Thailand to change their visa if they need to stay in Thailand longer. This procedure may be done within the country. A foreigner who is eligible for a change of visa must have entered Thailand with a Tourist or Transit visa granted by a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. The foreigner must apply for a change of visa not less then 30 days before his current visa is due to expire. Various documents are required depending on the purpose of the application for a Non-Immigrant Visa.
G. RE-ENTRY PERMIT
Aliens holding any kind of visa for stay in Thailand who wish to leave and return to the country by the expiry date of such visa without having to apply for a new visa must apply for a re-entry permit prior to departure. A re-entry permit allows the alien to re-enter Thailand and use the time remaining on his/her visa. If a
re-entry permit is not applied for, the visa will automatically be cancelled although it has not expired. To facilitate the travel schedules of aliens, aside from the Immigration offices throughout Thailand, are entry permit may be obtained at Don Muang (Bangkok), Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, and Sukhothai interna-tional airports, as well as other designated immigration checkpoints throughout the country. Don Muang (Bangkok) International Airport operates 24 hours, 7 days a week, while other checkpoints operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. The fee for single re-entry is Baht 1,000 while that for multiple re-entries is Baht 3,800. It is advisable to request a multiple visa if one expects to be frequently travelling out of Thailand. This allows him more - than one entry into Thailand during his travels.
If one leaves Thailand before his visa has expired and wants to return but does not have a re-entry permit, he must apply for another visa. Exits may only be legally made. At designated immigration control points. The crossing of any border is an exit for immigration purpose, whether or not the exit point is controlled. Thus, forays into neighbouring countries are deemed exits, legal or otherwise, and returning to Thailand from such trips is a new entry, requiring proper visas or re-entry permits.
R WORK PERMITS
Most foreigners who intend to work in Thailand are subject to the Alien Employment Act H.E. 2521 (A.D. 1978). Under the provisions of this Act, a foreigner cannot perform any act of work or service unless a work permit has been
issued by the Department of Employment, Ministry of Labor, or unless the individual, or the work performed, falls within an exception to the Act. The term "work" is defined very broadly, covering both physical and mental activities, whether or not for wages or other remuneration. Working without a valid work permit even for a day is a criminal offence. The validity period of a work permit is governed by the holder's immigration status, i.e. a work permit usually expires, on the last day of the period of stay allowed by immigration officials as shown on the alien's visa.
I. AIRPORT TAX
All persons departing Thailand from any airport in the Kingdom must pay an airport tax of Baht 500.
J. EXCHANGE CONTROL
Thai Currency: While unlimited amounts of Thai currency may be imported, the amount of Thai Baht currently allowed out of the country is Baht 50,000 per person per trip. There is a maximum of Baht 500,000 per person per trip permitted when visiting bordering countries.
Importation and Repatriation of Personal Funds
An individual foreigner is not restricted in the amount of foreign currency or negotiable instruments that he/she can bring into Thailand.
However, if the amount exceeds US$10000 it should be registered with the Customs officer upon entry to avoid problems upon departure.
Residents are not restricted in the amount of foreign currency or negotiable instruments, which they may bring into Thailand, but as a general rule, such foreign currency must be sold to an authorized agent and converted into Baht or deposited in a foreign currency account within 7 days. According to the new foreign exchange controls, a Thai resident travelling abroad for business or pleasure can take unlimited amounts of foreign currencies out of the country. However, prior approval is required for any purchase or conversion of foreign currency in any form other than bank notes and coins in the amount exceeding US$20,OOO at a time. This includes letters of credit and/or other negotiable instruments the traveller is taking on the trip. Currently, no limits are set on credit cards.
K. APPLYING FOR THAI NATIONALITY
Aliens who wish to apply for Thai nationality under the Nationality Act B.E. 2508 (A.D. 1965) must be permanent residence holders for 5 continuous years, have reached the age of 45, and be able to speak and understand Thai. An exception may be made to this rule if there is reasonable cause, such as marrying a Thai and having children born in Thailand or having studied in a local university/college as an undergraduate. The applicant must complete an application form and submit various required documents to the Criminal Investigation Division Group I, Subdivision 3, Royal Thai Police Headquarters, Rama I Road, Bangkok. The official fee is Baht 5,000. The processing takes 2 to 3 years. In the case of a minor child sponsored by a mother or father having Thai nationality, there must be evidence of both sponsorship and the child's birth. Likewise, a wife seeking Thai citizenship based on her husband's Thai nationality must submit evidence of the husband's nationality, the marriage, and a formal request for Thai citizenship.
Under the new provisions of the Thai Nationality Act (No.2) B.E. 2535 (A.D. 1992), any person, whether born inside or outside Thailand, whose father or mother has Thai nationality, is entitled to register his/her Thai nationality at the local district office where he/she wants to have his/her name registered in a house registration. He/she must submit various required documents.
Please note that this information is not inclusive of all the answers to questions involving immigration and related matters but is intended to address general issues. Whenever appropriate, please consult a lawyer versed in immigration matters or the nearest Immigration Division officer. Policies and procedures may change rapidly and without notice.