Process for working legally in Thailand as a teacher
The process for working legally in Thailand basically comes down to obtaining a valid work permit to do so. You would first have to obtain either a Non-Immigrant “B” which requires a degree in any field or a Non-Immigrant “O” which does not. Both of these Non-Immigrant visas open a 90 day window for you to obtain a valid work permit from your employer and once you obtain your work permit, your visa is also extended a year from entry.
The two main categories a school or potential employer would consider is if you are currently a degree holder or a non-degree holder. The two sub-categories would be are you a native English speaker or non-native English speaker. The term Native English Speaker (N.E.S.) referrers to any individual holding a passport from; The United States of American, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. If you are not holding a passport from one of these countries, then according to Thailand and most of Asia you are a non-native English speaker. Over the years Thailand has made some exceptions in considering passport holders from South Africa and Ireland as native, but these countries have not been formally added to the list.
What is the difference between arriving on a Non-Immigration Visa or Tourist Visa?
The difference upon receiving either Non-immigrant visa or Tourist Visa on entry is very slight. If you arrive on a non-immigrant visa you will have 90 days of validity from the date you entered Thailand activated it. The tourist visa gives you 60 days of validity from the date you entered Thailand activated it with an optional 30 day extension to equal a total of 90 days. The 30 day extension can be done at any immigration office or border crossing nationwide and costs 1,900 Thai baht for the extension.
Non-Immigrant visa provides you a 90 day window to obtain your work permit. Once you have obtained your work permit, your visa is extended one year from entry. A Non-Immigrant ‘B’ Visa requires a degree where as a Non-immigrant ‘O’ does not.
The Non-Immigrant “B” Visa
(Opens a 90 day window to obtain the work permit)
The Non-Immigrant “O” Visa
(Opens a 90 day window to obtain the work permit)
A single Entry Tourist Visa gives you 90 days of validity with the 30 day extension and the Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV) gives you 180 days of validity with two 30 extensions, which is basically two single entry tourist visas back to back. The tourist visa allows you to; participate in meetings, conferences, seminars, attend special academic training or lectures which makes it prefect for our TEFL course.
The Tourist Visa – Single Entry
(90 days of validity = 60 days + 30 day extension)
The Tourist Visa – Multiple Entry
(180 days of validity = 60 days +30 extension + 60 days +30 extension)
Why an ED visa is not the right visa for TEFL / TESOL training and employment.
The ED visa (student visa) is for any educational program or class with duration over 90 days and most TEFL / TESOL classes are three to four weeks so clearly the time requirement does not match. The ED Visa requires a Thai national element, for example a Thai person teaching you something; however most TEFL / TESOL trainers, certainly ours are native English speaking trainers so clearly the Thai element does not match. The ED Visa restricts employment or any form of compensation of any kind so if someone is expecting to work, earning income as a teacher upon graduation then they will be force to leave the country to obtain a new non-immigrant visa once they obtain an employer.
The ED visa (student Visa) because of its ease of sponsorship has been massively abused by unscrupulous companies looking to make a quick buck from a single piece of paper from the unknowing TEFL participant, even telling them that the ED Visa is required of them because they will be working in Education. ED visa are being sold along with some type of Thai language training to justify the cost which must be cancelled as soon as you want to start earning income in Thailand.
So what is the Visa process for one of our students?
Step 1: Sign up for one of our programs
The Premium TEFL Program
If you have enrolled for the Premium TEFL program and hold a passport from a native English speaking country we will email you a non-immigrant ‘B’ visa sponsorship letter as part of the program to request you arrive on a Non-Immigrant ‘B’ visa. You may also arrive on a single entry tourist visa or Multiple entry tourist visa if you choose.
Please note: We are providing the Non-immigrant “B” sponsorship letter for free as part of the course. The purpose for the request is to simply attend our teacher training course. Upon completion of the course, when you meet with your employer, you eventually must obtain a Non-immigrant visa “B” visa in the Employers name so that they can process your work permit. As we are not your employer it does not make a difference if you arrive on a non-Immigrant “B” visa or a Tourist visa, just personal preference.
The Basic TEFL Course
The Basic TEFL course does not include the visa sponsorship prior to arrival so simply apply and arrive on a single or Multiple Entry tourist Visa.
Step 2: Get your visa from your local Thai Embassy or Consulate
The Royal Thai Embassy or Consulates worldwide can vary on services, visa processing times, visa forms and fee structures, so please check for any updated information or requirements prior to your visit by visiting the Thai Embassy and consulate of your choosing by clicking the image below.
Things you may want to take with you to the Thai Embassy or Consulate:
- A pen (blue or black) to fill out your visa application form
- Passport with at least 6 months of validity
- Passport Copy of your (the data page with your photo and name)
- Visa / Passport photo, two recent photos ( 4 x 6 cm)
- Travel document, 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)
- Bank statement, a copy showing the last three months, with at least a balance equivalent to 20,000 Thai baht (approximately $700) per person
- The Non-Immigration ‘B’ Visa sponsorship letter or the Non-Immigrant ‘O’ visa package, if available
- The Visa processing fee
Step 3: Arrival in Thailand
Upon your arrival in Thailand or shortly before landing, you will be handed an Arrival Card (as below) so make sure you have a pen handy to fill it out correctly. If you have signed up for one of our TEFL courses then we would have emailed you an arrival information sheet on how to fill out this form and other location specific information on airport arrival, accommodation, etc.
Your visa is activated once your passport is stamped by the Immigration officer with on your arrival date; this is your entry date. If you are arriving on a tourist visa, then this gives you 60 days of validity and if arriving on a Non-Immigrant Visa then this would give you 90 days of validity. Exciting times ahead!
Please note: If you failed to obtain a visa at either a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate you will be given a Visa on entry, which gives you 30 days of validity if arriving by air transport and 15 days of validity if arriving by ground transport. You may extend this visa for 30 days at any Immigration office or border crossing nationwide.
Arrival Card – TM 6 (front)
(Please see your Information sheet for detailed instructions)
Arrival Card – TM 6 (Back)
(Please see your Information sheet for detailed instructions)
Step 4: Confirmation of the correct date and stamp
Both your passport and your Departure Card (They keep your Arrival card) will stamped with both you Arrival Date and and Visa expiry date (Admitted Until). The immigration officer will staple your departure card in your passport so you don’t loose it. During the Entrust TEFL orientation at one of our training centers; we will take a look at you passport and visa entry stamp to be sure that everything was done correctly, if not one of our staff will take you to the airport to have immigration correct the error.
Step 5: Meeting your employers
Job placement happens during our second and third week of the course, so you will have time to talk with your potential employers about visa sponsorship and work permits. We want you to be completely comfortable with your employer so we have Agents and schools come to our training centers to interview with you personally.
Please note: Entrust TEFL is not your employer, but merely making the introduction to your potential employers as a regular part of our on going training programs. Only your employer can sponsor you with a working visa and work permit. Also recent changes in the regulations, the time frames to obtain a Work permit has risen from 10 business days to anywhere from 90 to 180 days as the due diligence period was significantly increased.
Step 6: Head to your schools
Before you graduate the TEFL course on Friday night, you have determined which employer you will be going with and all the arrangements as to how are you getting to the school, who will be meeting you at the bus station or airport to collect you, where will you be living, and what your teaching schedule looks like, etc. will be sorted.
Most schools have a probation period, both to see if you are happy at the school and If they are happy with you before they start the lengthy sponsorship process, but other schools want to get your visa sorted before you arrive at the school so that you don’t miss any valuable class time once at the school. During this probation and the processing of your visa sponsorship paperwork you may work at the school as both you and the school are in this probation period.
Step 7: Still on a Tourist visa after 60 days?
If you are still on a tourist visa 60 days from your arrival date, you must head to any local immigration office or police station to extend your tourist visa for an additional 30 days at a cost of 1,900 Thai baht.
Things to take with you to your local immigration office:
- Your passport (with at least 6 months of validity remaining)
- A copy of your passport
- A copy of your entry stamp
- A copy of your Arrival card
- A pen (blue or black)
- One visa photo
- Your physical address in Thailand
- 1,900 Thai Baht
Step 8: Your 90 days is up – Obtain a New visa or Activate your Multiple Entry
If you arrived on either a Non-Immigrant visa or completed both your 60 days of validity, plus your 30 day extension, then you need to organize a trip to a neighboring country to obtain a brand new visa or activate your multiple entry tourist visa. If your visa is expiring soon then you will need to do a “visa Run”, which is a term used to actually obtain a new visa at a Thai Royal Embassy or consulate. If you arrived on a Multiple Tourist visa, then you simply have to do a “border run (or hop)”, which is a term used when you simply step across the border and return to Thailand to activating the second part of your visa.
If you are a degree holder, your employer has most likely given you a Non-immigrant Employment sponsorship package to take to the Royal Thai embassy to obtain your non-Immigrant “B” visa. If you are a non-degree holder, your employer has most likely given you a Non-immigrant Employment sponsorship package to take to the Royal Thai embassy to obtain your non-Immigrant “O” visa.
If your employer has not been able to secure you a non-immigrant sponsorship package for you, then you will obtain a new tourist visa to give you another 90 days (60 +30) to give them more time to process the documents. You may also want to contact us about the possibility to obtain both a non-immigrant visa and work permit through our foundation as you can only do so many tourist visas from a single Royal Thai Embassy. If you have exceeded the limit of tourist visas from a single Royal Thai Embassy, then they will give you a letter that basically says come back with a plan as they would like you to be on the appropriate visa for your purpose in Thailand.
Red Flagged countries
If you are holding a passport from one of the following countries you will be asked to return to your home country to obtain a new visa as this can’t be done by a simple visa run. It is important that you understand this as sometimes people with red flagged passports attempt to do a simple visa run, but find themselves stuck between two countries. They stamp out of Thailand, but do not have a visa to enter Lao or Malaysia, and do not have a visa to reenter Thailand. It is seriously important to apply for a Visa prior to getting to the Immigration check point so that you will be able to enter the country.
If you are attending our TEFL course from one of these countries, plan on attending the course, work for two months at your school, return to your home country to apply for non-immigrant visa from your employer, then arrive back in Thailand so that your employer can start processing your work permit so that you can stay in Thailand without being required to return home every 90 days.
Central African Republic
The five official Thai border exit / entry check points.
Laos / Vientiane
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. (Website)
Visa run to Vientiane; The process:
- Get yourself to Nong Khai then to the border
- Stamp out of Thailand (no cost)
- Get your Laos visa ($30-$35 USD)
- Arrive at the Royal Thai Embassy (8:30am-12:00PM) – Download form
- Apply and pay for your Visa. (Tourist 1,000 baht / Non-Immigrant 2,000 Baht)
- Go find your accommodation for the night (500 – 1500 baht)
- The next day return to the Embassy to pick up your visa and passport (1:00PM-3:00PM)
- Get a bus (10,000 Kip / 42 Baht) or taxi 20,000 Kip / 82 Baht) back to Nong Khai
- Leave Laos Immigration check point and get on bus across the bridge (12,000 Kip / 54 baht)
- Enter Thailand (Free)
The Work Permit Process
Once you have obtained your Non-immigrant “B” visa or Non-immigrant “O” visa from the Royal Thai Embassy and have returned to Thailand, your employer will want a copy of every page in your passport so they can start the work permit process. The work permit process can take from 10 business days to six months as the due diligence period has been increased.
Your employer will request the following items so they can start the process.
1) Original passport
2) Your departure card
3) 12 photos (white background) 3 X 4 cm at a cost of approximately 250 baht
4) 12 photos (white background) 4 x 5 cm at a cost of approximately 250 baht
5) Blood Test (Doctor visit & test) at a cost of approximately 1,200 baht
6) Royal Thai Police clearance at a cost of approximately 100-150 baht
Once you have obtained your work permit, your visa will be extended one year from your entry date. You will be required to report to a local immigration office to every 90 days to notify your intent on staying an additional 90 days and to update your physical address. As a foreigner (non-Thai National) your landlord must also report to immigration of your physical address, contract term, people living with you, etc., so both of these address and information should match up at immigration.