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.
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Do people teach on tourist visas for a long time? Why?
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.
Which visa will I need in order to become a legal teacher?
A non-immigrant 'B' visa is generally the visa you need to obtain if you are looking to work here as a teacher.
If you are applying for a non-immigrant 'B' visa, it's a good idea to call your nearest embassy or consulate ahead of time and find out exactly what they require if you want to apply for a non-immigrant B, - although this information is usually on their website and updated regularly.
Briefly, what is the process of obtaining a teacher's license and getting a work permit?
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 the school has 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 Thai Ministry of Education - 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.
What's the difference between a legal and an illegal teacher?
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. Life is getting far more difficult in Thailand for this kind of teacher.
What are the minimum number of hours you need to work to qualify for a work permit?
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.
Can I change my non-immigrant O visa to a non-immigrant B visa if I get offered a job?
Not sure why you would want to do that because you can legally work on a non 'O' visa as the rules currently stand.
It would be better to get the work permit on the Non-imm O visa then you don't have to rely on the teaching job to keep your legal status going.
You must have a salary of at least 40k baht per month, or show sufficient funds in a bank account in order to be approved and renew.
Why is it so difficult to get a straight answer to a visa-related question?
Thailand has a very complex visa system and sometimes it seems like it's forever changing.
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' (including me) who think they know the ropes. Their info might be correct at the time of writing but they could also be wrong.
For that reason 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 improved 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.
Is it legal for a potential employer to ask for original documents?
There is no legality issue here. It falls under the heading of common sense.
You should NEVER let original documents out of your sight and even if you have to hand them over to someone (let's say in a Thai government department) for a fleeting moment, you should know exactly where they are.
So make sure wherever possible, that you accompany those original documents on their journey.
How long does the process take to get a teachers licence, and do I have to do it myself?
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 file your work permit application, which is then enough to extend your visa.
The process shouldn't take more than a month according to several school admin people that I have spoken to.
Can i get a 3-month class 'O' visa in Laos?
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.
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