Have a question about obtaining a work permit or visa? Check out the questions below; chances are we've got your query covered! If not you can submit a question to us by clicking here.
For a teacher? If your school knows what its doing, then a work permit renewal should only take a day or two - provided there are no unforeseen problems.
Thailand has a very complex visa system. My advice to anyone who has an important visa-related question is to go to your local immigration office or Thai embassy and get the answer from the people who make the rules. Don't rely on info from well-meaning experts who think they know the ropes. Their info might be correct but they could also be wrong. For that reason I've begun to pay little attention to this part of the ajarn.com website these days and the answers to the questions in this section should never be taken as absolute gospel.
The level of customer service at Thai immigration offices has increased a great deal over the past years and I always find them very helpful. Even in the smallest provincial immigration offices there will invariably be an officer who can speak enough English to help you.
The fine is 2000 baht and the rule is certainly enforced. Don't forget though that you are allowed a 7-day grace period once your 90 days is up.
Not sure why you would want to do that because you can legally work on a non 'O' visa as the rules currently stand.
Yes, as long as you have a non-B visa which entitles you to get a teaching licence and work legally in Thailand, you can then obtain a non-O visa for your children or spouse (qualifying them as dependents)
I've never heard that there is an age limit for a visa, but 60 is apparently the age where you can't get into the social security scheme. In my experience, there is no problem getting a work permit after you turn 60. (Thanks to Terry LH for answering this question)
Technically, the answer is no. If a teacher leaves a job for whatever reason, they need to hand back the work permit to the labor department and the visa that goes with that work permit becomes null and void. You then have to leave the country (usually within 7 days) to obtain a new visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring country. However, there are rarely any black and white answers in Thailand, and some teachers (probably very few I might add) have had success transferring the visa but not the work permit, while others have had success transferring both work permit and visa due to the fact that the paperwork for the new job was completed in time (before the end of the first contract) If that doesn't sound like a straight answer, then that's because it isn't one. It's another one of those situations where as the teacher, you need to rely on both your past and previous employer getting all their ducks in a row. It rarely happens that way in truth so be prepared to leave the country for a visa run.
There will probably come a time when your employer needs to show your original passport as part of the visa / work permit process, etc and photocopies won't suffice. If at all possible, ask if you can accompany the school staff on these processing trips. In other words, don't let your passport out of your sight. There have certainly been instances of school admin staff losing passports and while it isn't the end of the world, it can be a real hassle and inconvenience to get a passport replaced. Asking to accompany the school staff on a processing trip is certainly not an unreasonable request.
There is no rule or law stating who is responsible for payment. Sometimes it's the employee that forks out but in most cases it's the employer. Rumors abound that there will be a considerable price increase for work permits in 2010 so this is sure to become more of an issue if that happens.
This is one of those 'ask ten different people and you'll get ten different answers' type questions. There are a lot of those in Thailand trust me. Although the official line is 'no you can't get a work permit without a degree' there are plenty of examples of agencies managing to get one for their teaching staff and in some cases, teachers at government schools out in the sticks have had no problem. As in most cases, it can depend on contacts and being in the right place at the right time. If you're looking for some hard, fast rule that applies 100% of the time - forget it. This is Thailand.
Yes, this can be done if you are a teacher with a guaranteed job offer but surprise! surprise! there is a certain amount of hassle involved. A lot of the responsibility rests with your employer, who will need your paperwork in order to apply for a letter from the Thai Ministry of Education. This letter can take anything from 3-6 weeks to obtain.
Because of the hassle involved, many employers take the easy option of asking the teacher to go to a neighboring country such as Laos or Malaysia and apply for a new non-immigrant B visa from a Thai consulate or embassy in that country.
Note that there is a cost of about 2,000 baht to upgrade a tourist visa to a non-immigrant if you take the first option.
You should ideally bring your original degree certificate and originals of any transcripts. And also a criminal background check if you can get one (although these seem to be less and less of a requirement as time goes by) Don't fret about how many copies of each document you need to bring. It's not as though Thailand doesn't have photocopiers (as some people seem to think!)
I've asked around and no one has come up with a straight answer to this. Someone did mention the minimum as possibly being 20 hours a week but the general concensus seems to be that there is no set figure. I'll update things when and if I hear something more concrete.
Firstly, there isn't a lot of demand in Thailand for some kind of substitute teacher who flits between different schools perhaps covering for absent teachers, etc. In truth, there never has been a demand for this sort of position. Maybe one or two of the larger private language schools who supply teachers to Thai secondary schools might sometimes have a vacancy for a supply teacher, but you would still be classed as a 'full-time' teacher for that particular private language school (agent) The thing is you still need a work permit to do this type of work so technically you need a non-immigrant B visa in order to start the work permit process. Visas don't entitle you to work legally (there is no such thing as a 'work visa') To work legally, you need a work permit. And it would be nigh on impossible to get a work permit as a substitute teacher working for several different employers.
No. It's the responsibility of the teacher to provide criminal background checks to the employer (if required)
Most school admin departments wouldn't have the first clue how to go about the process anyway,
I came into Thailand a week ago on a non-B visa with the intention of working at a school here. I discovered on the first day that the terms of employment were not as they appeared to be. I informed the school that I would not continue with them and that I would need to look for other work. Naturally they were not pleased and said they would go to immigration and cancel my non-B. Can they do that? Please help!
Phil says "I'm not getting the full story here but I assume you fixed up a job while you were still in your home country and the employer sent you a letter of 'intent to employ' and you used that letter to get a non-immigrant B visa at your local Thai embassy. The truth is that you haven't done anything wrong. It's not your fault that now you are actually here, the job has turned out to be not what you expected. It seems I can never repeat this enough but NEVER fix up a job before you arrive. Wait until you get here and then start looking for jobs. Back to the original question - the employer can't waltz into immigration and staret demanding that visas be cancelled. There's no contract between the two of you for starters. It's nothing but an idle threat. A pretty nasty one at that. I'm sure you've learned a lesson or two from all this though.
Firstly, there is no such thing as a work visa. You mean a non-immigrant B visa, which allows you to apply for a teacher's licence, etc. Many people take the option of returning to their home country because non-immigrant B visas can be more difficult to obtain in the Asian countries bordering Thailand, especially if you don't have the correct paperwork.
I presume you are talking about the two-year waiver that the TCT (Teachers Council of Thailand) granted teachers that were not qualified enough to apply for a teachers licence but could show they were making the effort to actually get qualified. Well, for many teachers - especially those who have done nothing in the past two years - the two-year period is up. In many cases though, employers have been successful in getting a second extension to the waiver agreement (or so I'm led to believe) but other employers have been knocked back and teachers now face losing their jobs. As with so many rules and regulations in Thailand - the colour is grey!
Firstly, this is by and large the employer's responsibilty and not the teacher's. You need to liaise with your school's admin person and tell them that you are leaving (hopefully you gave them 30 days notice) and discuss this issue. Ask the employer to inform you as soon as your work permit has been cancelled and returned to the labor department. You must ensure that this procedure has been carried out or else getting your new work permit for the next job could be a problem. Years ago, it was the responsibilty of the employer to give the teacher a chit to show that the permit had been cancelled but that's no longer the case. Therefore the current system is open to all sorts of administrative procrastination if your school is that way inclined.
It's actually not a requirement to bring a criminal background check document (CBC) to Thailand, although some employers may ask to see one. The vast majority of employers have realised that generally teachers arrive in Thailand without the CBC and getting one from their own country or state is just too time-consuming and too much hassle.
The real problems can occur though when a teacher goes to a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring Asian country to apply for a non-immigrant B visa on the basis of obtaining work as a teacher. At some embassies and consulates, they will ask to see a CBC. Not all of them but some.
Getting yourself a CBC while you are in your own country is always a wise idea. There's every chance you won't need to show it but always be prepared for a first time. The fact that you've been in prison for the crime committed (information withheld) won't matter.
What should officially happen when a teacher quits a job and hands the work permit back to the employer is that both teacher and employer should go to the immigration department and inform the officer that the teacher has terminated his / her employment. The officer will then cancel the teacher's visa and the teacher has 24 hours to leave the country. However there are many 'ifs' and 'buts'. If the teacher needs to organise transportation out of the country, etc, - as is often the case - they can ask the immigration officer for a 7-day visa extension, which costs 1,900 baht.
In reality, when many teachers quit their jobs, their employer simply can't be bothered to go and do the right thing at the immigration office and the teacher ends up staying in Thailand for the remaining period that their visa allows. This is something of a risky game to play because if you, the teacher, are stopped by police for a passport spot-check, you no longer have a work permit to support the visa in your passport. My advice - do the right thing. Get a one-week extension and then leave the country.
You would probably have a work permit for the full-time job at the school, but the part-time work at the language institute would just be for a few hours in the evening. One of Bangkok's biggest private language schools only employs part-time teachers who already have a work permit for their full-time job. This means that at the very least, the teacher is legally entitled to work in Thailand, albeit not for the part-time job. However, an ajarn reader got in touch to say that at the back of the work permit book, there is space to add a 'second employer'. So it seems you can possibly cover two jobs at two different locations with just one work permit book.
Can I get a three-month category 'O' visa in Laos? What about a double-entry non-immigrant B in Penang? To be honest I hate answering these kind of questions because there is no such thing as a straight yes or no in my experience. My advice is always to either call or fax the Thai consulate you intend to go to (calling is better) and get the answer from the actual consulate officers. Ask the name of the person you are speaking to so you have a reference point. I wouldn't plan a visa run - transportation, accommodation costs, etc - unless I had some sort of guarantee. If you turn up at the consulate with ten bits of paper, and the consulate want eleven, then it's too late. You're screwed. Find out exactly what you need before you make the journey.
A legal teacher has a teacher's license (from the Thai Ministry of Education), a work permit (from the Thai Labor Department) and a one-year visa (from the Thai Immigration Dept) The one year visa is issued on the strength of you having a work permit. If you don't get the work permit, you don't get the one year visa. They are inextricably linked.
An illegal teacher has no teacher's license and no work permit, and of course - no one year visa. Illegal teachers are resigned to doing border hops and consulate runs to neighboring countries every month or every 2-3 months depending on how they've got things organized.
Briefly, you give your school whatever documents they ask you for, and they process them. You need to be tolerant and helpful at this point even if you personally think hey have no need to ask for certain things. If you don't co-operate, the process will get stuck and you'll be the one leaving the country to get a new visa. First they obtain a teacher's license for you, and then they use this to get a work permit. Once you have a work permit, your visa can be extended.
Lengthily, (and the details may vary between schools and provinces) the first step is the teacher's license. This requires more or less the following: A personal information document, up to 12 one and a half inch photos, up to 12 two inch photos, a current health certificate (50 baht any hospital - are you alive? yes - you passed), copies of your degree and other certs (originals may be requested along with transcripts) certified Thai translations of your degree and other certs, copies of every page of your passport, school director's license, school principal's license, map of school, teaching schedule of teacher, list of other work permit holders at the school, a new blank teacher's license book (blue), form Sor Chor 10, form Sor Chor 17, form Ror 11. And if you've had a license before, then you can add Ror 12, Sor Chor 19, Sor Chor 18, and your blue license book (not to be confused with the work permit book, plus some provinces don't issue them, in which case you might need to fabricate a police report saying you've lost it)
These are all submitted in quadruplicate to the Min of Ed, and don't forget to sign every single page. After a while (one week to who knows) you will get the license back. You take this, along with most of the same documents as above to the Labour Department, who will issue a receipt of application. You can use the receipt to extend your visa - the implication being that your application won't be turned down at this stage. After about three weeks you pick up your new work permit. When the time comes for renewal, it's a good idea to remind your school about one month before the expiry date, though they really should be on top of things by that stage.
A Non-immigrant B Visa is generally the Visa you need to obtain if you are looking to work here and to get one you are required to produce a whole stack of paperwork including a letter of employment, an employment contract, maybe a letter from your embassy (and there is even talk of a security background check). You really need to call the embassy or consulate ahead of time and find out EXACTLY what they require if you want a non-immigrant B. If you turn up with 100 pieces of paper, then you can bet your boots the officer will ask for 101.
On entry you'll receive 90 days of cover, with the option to extend by 10 days at Imm (I GET 14 + 6 ALL FOR 1900) (cost: 1,900 Baht). You can also obtain (although this may have changed recently) double entry Non-imm Bs (two entries of 90 days, the second entry is obtained by exiting and re-entering the country). Multiple entry Non-imm Bs are the best as they will give you just under 15 months of cover in 90 day intervals. For a one year period ANY and EVERY time you enter Thailand with the Non-imm B you'll receive 90 days on entry. Generally most school prefer you to be on a Non-imm B if you wish to obtain a work permit, although as mentioned before a Non-imm O (spousal or dependants Visa) is in some ways interchangeable and vice versa! A word of advice most Consulates are far friendlier when it comes to issuing Non-imm Bs (and multiples at that) than Embassies. Cost of Non-imm B in the UK: http://www.thaiconsul-uk.com
Again, the immigration rules overhaul of October 2006 meant that non-immigrant visas suddenly become a lot harder to get. Well, some people have had problems....but there are people who have problems doing anything.
A Non-immigrant O Visa is generally for people married to a Thai national or with Thai children or dependants. This works in basically the same way as a Non-imm B. Although if you can show funds in a Thai bank account (400,000 baht) or show sufficient proof of local or overseas income to prove that you can support your family, the immigration can indefinitely extend your Visa for up to 12 months. A work permit can now be obtained on a Non-imm O (it couldn't before 2006)
Generally (or it seems a lot of employers prefer) a Non-immigrant B Visa. Although it's possible to obtain a work permit with a Non-immigrant O Visa, it seems a lot of employers either aren't aware of this, or it's too much hassle for them. Generally you'll need at least a couple of months of your Visa left (which would initially be for 90 days) for the school to obtain all the needed paperwork...although if they can show they're going through the motions Immigration can and will grant an extension (generally of around a month) to give your employer time enough to finish everything off.
Many people will disagree with me on this but I sincerely believe that no visa requirement rule is set in stone. There are many 'human' factors involved when you apply for a visa and you are face-to-face with an immigration officer.
Is the immigration officer in a good mood?
Does he / she like you as a person and are you polite?
Are you dressed smartly enough? (you don't need to be in a velvet smoking jacket but Thais like clean people)
Do you look like someone Thailand would want living in its country?
etc, etc - the list is endless. Most of it is just plain common sense.
To say that Thailand's visa regulations are extraordinarily complex just doesn't do things justice. And if anything they seem to get more and more complicated as time goes by.
Well there are three main options and these themselves have options within them.
On-entry Visa: Most nationalities can receive 30 days on entry automatically with the option (at the Immigration officers discretion) to extend by 10 days (OR SOMETIMES 14 DAYS at a cost of 1,900 Baht) at an Immigration office. Go here for the list of countries: http://www.imm3.police.go.th/eng/
Update 10th December 2008 - Please note that the 30-day 'on entry' visa is now granted only to those entering the country via an airport. Those who enter Thailand via a land border will receive only 15 days.
There are countless foreigners who have lived in Thailand for years and simply toddled off to a border point every 30 days, done a quick 'in and out' and received a fresh 30-day stamp. That all changed in late 2008 when the 30-day stamp was cut to 15 days. This was obviously a move to get rid of the 'foreign riff-raff' because 15 days is a ridiculously short window and surely no one can be bothered to do border hops that often.
Tourist Visas: Can and must be issued by a Thai Embassy or Consulate and there are different numbers of entries (not always easy to get more than one though!). A single tourist Visa would automatically entitle you to 60 days on entry to Thailand, with the option to extend by 30 days (again at 1,900 Baht) at an Immigration office. A double entry tourist Visa would entitle you to the above, with a further 60 day entry once you've left and returned (exit and re-entry) to Thailand (see border runs further on) and the option to extend by a further 30 days. A triple entry would be the same but with THREE entries of 60 days etc. The most entries I'm aware of is four, but you'll find that most neighboring Asian countries will only issue singles or doubles at best. A common question is 'which embassy or consulate is the best to go to for a tourist visa? Penang in Malaysia? What about Kuala Lumpur? How about Vientiane in Laos? Or Cambodia even? The answer is 'who the hell knows?' You hear just as many success stories as you do refusals - from all consulates. It all really depends on which way the wind is blowing.
So let's recap on what you can do with a double-entry tourist visa if you're lucky enough to get one.
Let's say you enter Thailand on the 1st January (for sake of argument). You get 60 days on entry which will allow you to stay in Thailand until the 28/29th February. Just before the 60 days expire (or on the last day itself) you go to immigration office in Thailand and extend for a further month. Then you can extend for another two weeks (all extensions are currently 1,900 baht). When your final day of your final extension is almost upon you, you catch a bus, train or plane to a neighboring country's border point and then turn around and re-enter Thailand. Thus you now activate your second entry and your second 60-days. So in effect, a double entry tourist visa will get you 60 days plus 60 days plus an optional extension of one month on each entry and then a further extension of two weeks on each entry (all extensions can be done at an office within Thailand). So you would get about seven months out of your double entry tourist, but that includes one border hop and FOUR trips to the immigration office!
For the cost of tourist Visas in the UK go here: http://www.thaiconsul-uk.com
Remember - you cannot work legally in Thailand on a tourist visa!
You need a school backing you up in order to get yourself a teacher's license. If the school can't do the paperwork then your own chances of doing it will be slim to non-existent. Many schools do not actually know how to get licenses and work permits for foreign teachers, or do not have a member of staff who has ever done it. In this case things can get very drawn out with the application being postponed indefinitely. If you're the first or only foreigner in a school, good luck.
The actual process need not take a long time. The important thing is to get the teacher's license because that will enable you to make your work permit application which is enough to extend your visa. When I process these, I consider the day the visa expires to be the deadline for getting the license in my hands. It can be done in a week. I aim for a month. If the paperwork is flawed you can just keep on waiting.
This is something of a 64 billion dollar question. Ask five different people and you'll get five different answers. The general consensus (2009) is that you need BOTH a B.A (in any subject) AND a recognized TEFL certificate. If your B.A is in English (and only English), then you do NOT need to show a TEFL certificate in addition.
I'm one of the few people who seem to push this point, but a hell of a lot depends on your school's relationship with the MoE. Some schools have poor relationships with the MoE and need to jump through numerous hoops to get their teachers legal. Other schools have good relationships and find the whole process fairly painless (not that I'd ever use the word painless to describe an aspect of Thai officialdom)
There's a lot of argument over what exactly constitutes a 'recognized TEFL certificate' but in my opinion, if the certificate's got the word TEFL on it in some shape, size or form, it should get through. Contrary to popular belief and rumor, the MoE do NOT check the validity of degrees and TEFL certificates. They simply don't have the manpower. The responsibility of checking all certificates falls on the shoulders of the employer (which is how it should be) You do however need to show original copies to the officer at the MoE.
The main reasons that teachers work illegally (on tourist visas) are
1) they don't possess the necessary qualifications to obtain a teacher's license
2) their school / institute can't get them a work permit / won't get them a work permit / don't know how to get them a work permit
3) they actually prefer to remain a 'free spirit' often juggling around freelance work and not tied down to one particular establishment.
Be warned though: teaching without a work permit can land you in serious trouble. Jail / fine / deportation - take your pick.
Your work permit usually allows you to teach in ONE location only - the location written on the inside cover of the work permit. However, several ajarn readers have informed me that it is now possible to add a second or other locations to a work permit book.
A border hop means taking a train, a bus, a plane or anything with wheels, and crossing a neighboring border. Then usually coming straight back into Thailand again. A border hop is usually done to 'activate' a second or third entry on a double or triple entry visa.
A consulate run is when you physically need to get a new Thai visa in your passport and that means schlepping to a Thai consulate/embassy in a neighboring country. It goes without saying that consulate runs are more expensive, more time-consuming (and dare I say more stressful) than border hops. Depending on what time of day you arrive, Thai embassies / consulates will issue you a new visa within 48 hours.
Phew! There must be at least a dozen border points in Thailand where you can perform a border hop, with the most popular being the Thai/Malaysian border point at Pedang Besar, the Thailand/Laos border point at Nong Khai, and the Thailand / Cambodia crossing at Aranya Pratheet.
Long-termers generally have their own reasons for choosing a particular border point.
As far as consulates are concerned, the most popular choices are Penang (Malaysia), and Vientiane (Laos). Other options include Singapore and Phnom Phen. If you fancy a particular place to do a border hop or consulate run, I suggest you put a post on the ajarn discussion board, and find out the latest vibe for that crossing or consulate. Who knows, you might even find someone to buddy up with!
Firstly, your school needs to be on the unofficial official school-list at the consulate you are going to. If your school has got its act together, they will have notified the consulate in the past and be 'on the list'. Sadly, organization is not one of Thailand's best traits. All is not lost though, and if you can plead your case well enough and you're wearing a clean shirt, you'll probably get your non-immigrant visa. From experience, it always seems that the consulate in Laos is by far the strictest when it comes to 'hey your school is not on the list so here's a tourist visa, now bugger off' - Vietnam and Cambodia aren't far behind so I've heard.
You will need to take paperwork with you in order to get a non-immigration visa. Again, if your school knows what it's doing, this won't be a problem. The keyword is 'if'.
Very difficult to answer this question. You could take a cheap minibus from Bangkok to Aranya Pratheet on the Cambodian border and still have change from thirty dollars. Or you could fly to Singapore and stay a night in a swanky Orchard Road hotel. Border runs can be tailored to fit most budgets.
Schools almost rarely/never pay for a teacher to do a border hop or consulate run.
Well, the school will be pissed off for a start (unless you're an awful teacher and they can't wait to see the back of you). In addition to that, you will probably be required to reimburse the school for the costs of work permit, teacher's license, admin staff's shoe leather, etc, etc. You can expect to cough up something in the region of 5,000 baht.
More importantly, once you quit a job, your work permit and one-year visa are null and void. You now have SEVEN days to leave the country and get a new visa. Make sure that you keep tabs on EXACTLY when the school hands back your work permit to the labor department, because that's when the 7-day clock starts ticking. I've heard numerous stories of schools failing to tell the teacher that they've already cancelled the work permit and the teacher suddenly staring at a hefty overstay fine. Needless to say, breaking a contract is something you really should avoid doing if at all possible.
Paully also adds the following - In addition to the advice already given, remember that if your written employment contract has a notice period clause in it (as is common), for example, allowing your employer or you to terminate the contract on one month's written notice to the other party, you are NOT breaking your contract by giving your employer one month's written notice of leaving. You are terminating your contract by agreement. This is as valid in Thai law as in US or UK law. Your employer may still be pissed off, but there's nothing in law he can do about it other than try to hold up your application for a new work permit. Keep a copy of your letter of notice and contact the Ministry of Labour if your old employer refuses to give you/the Min of Labour a release form (Tor Dor 11) agreeing to your leaving and allowing you to get a new work permit.
Update from a teacher regarding the '7-day rule'
In my case, the employer wrote on whatever form it was that they presented to the Labour Department that my last date of employment was 12 June. They actually notified the Labour Department on 14 June and subsequently notified Immigration on 15 June. Immigration gave me until 18 June (ie, the clock started ticking the first second into 12 June) to leave the country. I was expecting a date of 21 June, so this was a bit of a surprise, but not a problem.
If you have a non-immigrant visa, it will be cancelled if you leave the country. To avoid canceling it, get a re-entry permit from your local immigration office. Note that it is no longer possible to get one at the airport.
This is very important if you have a work permit, because canceling your visa cancels the work permit and you have to start everything again. If you have a multiple entry non-immigrant visa which has been extended on a work permit (or you have a work permit application in process) then you still need a re-entry permit, because a new entry is considered to be a new visa, and everything will have been cancelled.
If you're hoping to qualify for residence, this is another reason to make sure that your visa doesn't get cancelled as you need to spend a certain number of years here on the same visa in order to apply. If in doubt, check with immigration first, because the consequences of getting it wrong are troublesome.
Basically if your Visa (be it a tourist, Non-imm, entry....whatever) is due to expire on say 7th May, 2004. You must either go to Imm (on that day...not the day after) to get an extension (if you're entitled to one...although to be honest there'll generally give you something although you don't really want to be paying 1,900 Baht for a days extension), or you can do a run (see border runs) to a neighbouring country and exit and then re-enter to obtain a further x amount of days (depending on which Visa you already hold).
Now overstay (and I've heard differing views, but this is generally how it works IMHO) starts from the day (kind of) your Visa runs out. So if you run out on the 8th and you on the 9th you'll pay 500 Baht overstay. 10 days would be 5,000 Baht, 20 = 10,000 Baht and so on and so on until you get to the ceiling fine amount which is 20,000 Baht. I was under the impression (and bear in mind the whims of Imm can change from day to day) that you were allows one over stay of this amount in your passport...two could mean you're deported (again you hear a lot of different stories in regards to this).
Now I've been over a few times here and there (28 days three years ago was the most) and I've never had a problem with it although I have been shouted at. Now what seems to be happening is if you can get to the border or airport to pay the overstay you'll (generally) be fine, BUT if you're pulled on overstay while in a touristy area, or just routinely asked to show your passport and you're on overstay...you could be in a heap of trouble. They can and from what I've heard will arrest you and possibly deport you (once you've paid the overstay amount owed). The worst story I've heard (from a very reliable person from S&A) was a chap got pulled on the Jack Golf bus (at Sukhumvit before it was due to leave) and he was actually only 7 hours over and on his way to the border to sort it out....nicked and locked up!
Visa services at the present time are a big no no (at least the ones that send your passports off).
It's common for schools to hang on to your teacher's license (both the permanent version and the version issued to that school for your current contract period) while you're working there. Schools sometimes like to hang on to your passport and your blue work permit book too, officially for safekeeping, unofficially perhaps in an attempt to stop you disappearing at the end of the month.
Remember that your passport is yours, the school has no right to keep it and it should be kept with you. The work permit has to be kept with you OR at your place of work during working hours: again the school has no automatic right to keep it in the school safe forever. At the basic minimum, keep a copy of the work permit in case you need it to refer to the number or issue/expiry date.
When you leave your work, the school must give you your permanent teacher's license (but not the current one issued for your employment) whether you leave Thailand or remain to go on to a new job. Check you have the original license with the original photograph and stamp on it. They have no right to keep the original permanent license and give you only a copy. It's yours, not theirs.