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Converting My Tourist Visa to a Work Visa in Thailand During Covid-19
Written by: Sylvia Laytin
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
ITA DISCLAIMER: This article is the experience of one ITA alum processing their non-immigrant visa in Thailand during Covid-19. Keep in mind that the situation is fluid and each province or school may have an updated or different process.
Due to Covid-19, the process to apply for a non-immigrant B visa in Thailand has changed and can be a bit complicated. Prior to the pandemic, a teacher would travel to a neighboring country to apply for a non immigrant B visa. Now, the borders are closed and teachers are unable to use this method. The only way to convert your tourist visa now is within the country of Thailand. To do so, you need 19 documents to be approved by the immigration department. I had a very difficult time doing so, and I would like other alumni to avoid the stress and expensive steps. I was told I was the first person to successfully complete the new process. I had to run around Thailand and spend a considerable amount of funds to get all the required documentation. Some of the required paperwork and fees include the following:
- College transcripts and degree notarized and authorized by the U.S Embassy (the embassy in Thailand is by appointment only and is booked 2 months out);
- Those documents translated to Thai and authorized by the legalization office of the Foreign Ministry of Affairs in Bangkok;
- Property lease and contract in English and Thai;
- Multiple documents provided by your employer;
- Immigration paperwork provided by the owner of your housing issued by the government ;
- The extension of your 60 day visa to a 90 day visa which costs 1900 baht;
- T.6 form issued by customs and a T.87 form from immigration;
- TEFL certification in English and in Thai;
- An application form signed by your employer with an immigration officer as a witness - someone from your school must travel to immigration with you;
- Passport photos;
- An employment certification from the Department of Labor;
- A cooperation letter from the Ministry of Education;
- Application fee of 2000 baht for the conversion process;
- Multiple copies of the above forms, signed;
- Copies of every page of your passport, signed;
- The above copies must have the schools official seal stamp on each page;
This is not the full list of documents and fees, but just a peek at the complications involved in the conversion process. Many of these documents need to be issued within the same month, or they will be deemed invalid. Take note that going to any of these offices listed above is similar to going to the DMV in the States. You are issued a numbered ticket and wait hours for each service. You must get permission from your school to miss work. There is a possibility that your salary will be affected by your missed hours. All of these documents have to be submitted 15 days before the end of your tourist visa. More information can be found on the immigration website here.
I understand obtaining a non-immigrant B visa prior to moving to Thailand is not the normal way of things, but since the beginning of the pandemic, nothing is normal. The Thai government is making it increasingly difficult to convert your visa. There are also stories in the news about the Department of Labor cracking down on foreigners working illegally while here on a tourist visa. Being caught in this situation leads to fines and deportation.
I know this may be difficult news to hear, but I want to let other Thailand dreamers like myself know of the potential steps and roadblocks you may encounter when arriving on a tourist visa. This is why I suggest coming to Thailand on a non-immigrant B visa.
ITA DISCLAIMER: It is an ideal situation if your school will assist you with the non-immigrant B process before you come to Thailand. Unfortunately at this time, many schools are not willing to go through this process before you are in Thailand.
Originally from New York, Sylvia Laytin graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Science majoring in Environmental Studies. After taking ITA's 11-Week Online TEFL Course, she secured a job teaching English in Thailand - something she has been dreaming about since she was in high school!
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