When it comes to working or conducting business in Thailand, including on the island of Koh Samui, expatriates often encounter confusion regarding the proper visa required. Some may refer to it as a work visa, while others may refer to it as a business visa. However, for those who are new to the process, this can be a source of frustration and uncertainty.
The truth is that both of these terms refer to the same visa, which is known as the Non-Immigrant Visa B. This visa is the official designation for a working or business visa in Thailand.
What is a Non-B Visa?
The Non-Immigrant Visa B, commonly referred to as the Non-B visa, allows individuals to stay in Thailand for up to two years without the need for frequent exits. This visa is suitable for entrepreneurs, business owners, and expatriates who are either employed or conducting business in Thailand. It is also known as a company visa or working visa.
As long as all of the necessary requirements are met, obtaining or renewing a Non-B visa is possible. This visa is a practical solution for those who wish to stay in Thailand for an extended period while pursuing work or business opportunities.
Requirements For Thailand Work Visa
To obtain a Non-B visa in Thailand, there are two options: be hired by a Thai company or start your own Thai company and become your own employee. It is important to note that without support from a Thai business, obtaining a Non-B visa on your own will not be possible. This support can come from either your Thai employer or your own Thai company.
While it can be challenging to find work in Thailand without at least a bachelor’s degree, exceptions can be made for those with a strong work history and extensive experience, particularly in the IT field. On the other hand, for those seeking to teach English in Thailand, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement.
Please note that not all Thai businesses are able to hire foreign workers. Companies that wish to recruit foreign employees must maintain a 4:1 ratio of Thai to foreign workers and have a capital of at least 2 million baht per foreign worker. However, these conditions do not apply to companies that are promoted by Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI).
The Two Types of Non-B Visas
Non-B visas are categorized into two types: Single Entry and Multiple Entry. These two types of visas are largely similar, with the exception that a Single Entry Non-B visa is only valid for one entry into Thailand and becomes invalid if you leave the country without obtaining a re-entry permit.
On the other hand, the Multiple Entry Non-B visa allows you the flexibility to enter and exit Thailand as many times as you wish.
Before applying for your Non-B visa, it is important to ensure that both you and your employer have all the necessary documentation in order. Your employer will need to provide the following documents for the Non-B visa application:
- Invitation letter from the employer detailing your job title, salary, contract duration, and responsibilities.
- Approval letter from the Ministry of Labour, Board of Investment, or other relevant government agencies.
- VAT registration certificate and company registration.
- Directory of all foreign employees, including their nationalities, names, job titles, and salaries.
- Business plan – financial records and statements from the most recent fiscal year.
Additionally, your employer will need to submit these documents to various government agencies to obtain the approval letter, which may take several weeks to process.
You’ll need to provide the following documents on your end:
Along with the required documents from your employer, you will also need the following documents for the Non-B visa application:
- Two passport-sized photos (4cm x 6cm) taken within the past six months with a white background.
- Bank statement showing a minimum balance of 20,000 baht for a single person or 40,000 baht for a family.
- A copy of your passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages on both sides.
It is recommended to apply for the Non-B visa when your passport is over two years old, as this will eliminate the need to transfer the visa to a new passport if it expires.
For teaching positions, you may also need to submit your resume and any teaching qualifications or TEFL certificates. In some cases, you may be required to provide a criminal background check, but this varies from case to case.
Note that each Thai embassy may have their own specific requirements, so it’s best to check with the embassy you are applying to before submitting your application.
Applying In Thailand
It is possible to convert a tourist visa to a Non-B visa within Thailand, but there are additional requirements to meet. To convert your tourist visa to a Non-B visa, your current tourist visa must be valid for a minimum of 21 days and your employer will need to provide additional documentation. If you’re from Africa, you may also need to provide a copy of your criminal background check. If you do not already have one, you will need to travel back to your home country to obtain it before applying for a visa. The processing time for a Non-B visa is typically three business days, once all the necessary paperwork has been submitted.
Applying From Outside Of Thailand
If you’re a national of Australia, America, or Europe, you can apply for a single-entry Non-B visa at any Thai embassy around the world, including those located in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, if you’re a national of another country, it is recommended to consult with the Thai embassy where you plan to apply for further information.
For African nationals, it’s necessary to apply for a Non-B visa in your home country. If your country does not have a Thai embassy, you can reach out to the nearest Thai consulate for guidance on the visa application process. In case there are no Thai embassies or consulates in your country, you may have to apply for the visa in a neighboring country.
Extending Your Single Entry Non-B Visa
A “temporary” Non-B visa is typically granted for a 90-day period until your Non-B visa is accepted. To extend your visa, visit the One-Stop Service Center if you are employed by a BOI-promoted organization. You will need to provide the same documentation as when you initially applied for the visa, including your Thai work permit, which you will apply for after getting the Non-B visa. If unable to extend your visa before expiration, you will have to leave Thailand and reapply. During extension, you may opt for either a single-entry permit or a multiple-entry permit.
With a single-entry permit, you will have to apply each time you leave and wish to return to Thailand. Failing to do so will result in your visa being revoked. On the other hand, a multiple-entry permit allows you to enter and exit Thailand as many times as you like without losing your visa.
90 Day Reporting
To maintain the validity of your Non-B visa during your stay in Thailand, you are required to report to immigration either online or in person at the Koh Samui immigration office every 90 days.
If you need to renew or replace your passport, your embassy will send you a letter of request for the transfer of your Non-B visa to your new passport. Simply bring this letter to the immigration office and the transfer process will be completed free of charge.