Are you travelling to Thailand and want to have a breakdown of visa advice? I am here to do just that! So lets get into it.
Disclaimer: I am not a visa expert, but I do have first hand experience with obtaining visas in Thailand.
I can speak from my experience as an American expat living in Thailand and am speaking only from this perspective. Like I said, I am not a visa expert and policies change often, however I can give you my insiders advice about the general process to familiarize you with the overall visa process.
First things first every single visa for Thailand has different requirements. I am speaking mostly from experience of obtaining a work visa for teaching, also known as the Non-Immigrant B visa. This is the work visa that foreigners will get. You have to apply for the non-immigrant visa and then in a month or two after receiving your visa you will get your work permit. You NEED both to have all the documents and be working legally.
As a teacher who is coming to work and live in Thailand the visa process has got to be the most confusing and irritating parts about being able to stay in the lovely country of Thailand. Currently, due to the virus maybe some policies have changed or will change in the future. I am writing from my experience of obtaining work visas from 2019-2020.
What documents will I need as a teacher in Thailand?
For teaching you need specific documents to properly get that visa sorted and if you have these it will make the process much smoother.
- passport valid 6 months or more
- transcripts from university
-original university degree (sometimes not needed, only depends on the school)
- recommend to be TEFL or some type of teaching certification (not always required, but higher pay if you do)
- if non-native speaker English proficiency test
- extra copies of all of the documents above
These are the main documents you need for teaching in Thailand. Note that you don't need to be a teacher with a ton of experience or have a degree in teaching either. If you have a bachelors degree and are a native you will likely get hired. If you are a non-native and very efficient in English, have a degree, experience you also will get hired (also probably a lower pay).
I have my documents now what?
Now it is time for you to plan your travels and either apply beforehand outside of Thailand in your home country or a common one is to arrive as a tourist 90 day visa and change to a Non-B and apply in a neighboring South East Asia country pre-covid.
When you are coming to teach in Thailand there are different ways you can find employment either by networking or by applying online. I recommend for you to search for employment on ajarn.com. It is a reputable site and is how lots of my friends found employment and myself included.
I have employment now what?
When you have the job finally please do not sign anything until you are clear about the role, pay, and your obligations. The school or language center will eventually provide a contract with you. Read it very carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you get a copy in Thai and in English for your records. It is also okay to say I will look it over and give it back to you tomorrow. You want to make sure you can catch anything and be clear about what is expected of you. The contract should have details about your pay, your role, paid days off, sick days, health insurance, termination of contracts details, and if you are required to do extra curricular classes or private lessons. Some schools have different policies about all of these different things, however most public schools give you paid holiday for the Thai holidays and paid leave for term break. International schools will likely have the Western holidays paid, but not Thai holidays and will pay you for term breaks and summer break. Once you have agreed upon a school, have your contract, and your teaching time table then the process for your visa will start.
It seems like my Non-Immigrant B is such a slow process...
It will seem like there is no progress and the school might not communicate with you all the time what is going on with your visa. Don't stress it, they do things at a different pace and are working at it behind the scenes. Don't be surprised if they tell you with little notice it is time to apply for your visa in a neighboring country with only maybe a two day notice.
My school told me to do a visa-run to Laos
This is extremely common and I went to Laos twice for a visa-run. It seems silly, but yes you apply for your Thai work visa in Laos at the Thai embassy. It just is how they do it, not sure why but you will meet many others who are doing the same exact thing; all applying for a visa for Thailand. My visa trip was in Savannakhet, Laos. Laos doesn't have much going on rather than the areas around the capitol, and this is not by the capital. It is a good experience though and you can walk around a lot, rent motorbike to explore, and eat Laos food and Thai food.
When I went to Laos I stayed near the embassy and another time more by the square. If you are trying to find accommodation in Savannakhet, Laos you can stay in the same places I did.
I stayed right across from the Thai consulate, and it is a café, restaurant, and basic place to stay. It is mainly for convenience, however if you are wanting to explore a little bit then maybe stay by the night market as there is more food in that area. It is called Pilgrims Coffee and Restaurant ເມືອງໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ.
The other place I stayed was near the square, the bus station, and the night market. Closer to food and activities, but a 10 minute walk from the consulate. It was at a place called Avalon residence
Avalon residence 9W, Savannakhet, Laos 9W, ເມືອງໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ
There are other visas you can get when staying more long term in Thailand as well. I didn't ever do the visa process for these, but there are ones for studying, retirement visas, marriage visas, volunteering, and of course a longer term tourist visa. There really aren't that many options for visas in Thailand, and they don't have a digital nomad visa even though the popularity for digital nomads in Thailand is so high. Hopefully that is in the working post-covid.
If you want to read about those visas and what is needed I recommend you to read about it from the types of visa site.
If you are going to Laos I made a google maps guide for you on all the places you can eat, stay, and basic things you would need when taking a visa run to Savannakhet, Laos.
That is pretty much it! If you want to read more about the process of becoming a teacher, what to expect, or insider tips about becoming a teacher then check it out here.
Disclaimer: I want to mention again I am not an expert, I am only sharing my experience on what the visa process was like in Thailand for teaching.