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When it comes to getting the right visa to work or do business in Thailand, you’ll often hear expats talk about “business visas” and “work visas.”
It could be confusing, especially for new expats who are just going through the process.
So which visa will you really need when coming to Thailand for work or business?
The truth is, they’re actually the same visa. The official term for a work or business visa in Thailand is called a Non-Immigrant Visa B.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the requirements and application process for getting a Thai Non-B visa, and show you other visa options with similar benefits.
- What is a Non-B Visa?
- Can I fly to Thailand with a Business Visa during COVID-19?
- Changing Jobs
- Alternative Business Visas
- Now, on to You
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What is a Non-B Visa?
Non-Immigrant Visa “B”, or Non-B in short, lets you stay in Thailand for one to two years without having to leave the country.
The Non-B visa is for business owners, entrepreneurs, and expats who are working or doing business in Thailand.
You’ll often hear to people call the the Non-B visa a “business visa” or a “working visa.”
You can get or renew your Non-B visa as long as you meet all the requirements.
There are two ways to get a Non-B visa in Thailand:
- to get hired by a company in Thailand
- to start a company in Thailand and hire yourself
You can’t apply for the Non-B visa yourself without the supporting documents from a company in Thailand. It can be your Thai employer or your own company.
If you want to get hired by a Thai company to get the business visa, your education level doesn’t matter. As long as you are hired, you have a very high chance of getting the visa.
But if you don’t have at least a bachelor’s degree, it’ll be hard to find a job in Thailand. Bachelor’s degrees are commonly required in Thailand.
If you have a solid track record and years of experience you can still find a job, especially for you IT pros out there.
But if you want to teach English in Thailand a bachelor’s degree is a must-have.
Not all companies in Thailand can hire foreigners though. Companies that want to hire foreigners must:
- have more than 2 million baht of capital per foreign employee
- have a 4:1 ratio of Thai to foreign employees
But if your company or the company that hires you is promoted by Thailand’s Board of Investment, or BOI, these requirements aren’t necessary.
If you don’t want to get hired or start a business in Thailand, you should check out the Elite visa. It gives you, along with your family, at least 5 years to stay in Thailand.
With this visa, you can’t legally work or run a business here. But this may change in the future.
However, it’s still possible to work or run a business overseas while living in Thailand.
There are two types of Non-B visas:
- a single-entry visa
- a multiple-entry visa
These two visas are almost the same except that tou will lose your single-entry Non-B visa if you leave Thailand without a re-entry permit.
On the other hand, you can leave the country as many times as you want with the multiple-entry Non-B visa.
A single entry Non-B visa costs $80 and a multiple-entry Non-B visa costs $200.
You can apply for your Non-B visa by following each of the steps below.
Prepare Your Documents
Before you apply for your Non-B visa you want to make sure you and your employer have all your documents in order.
To apply for your Non-B visa, you’ll generally need these documents from your employer:
- the approval letter from the Ministry of Labour, Board of Investment, or other related government organizations*
- the invitation letter from the employer stating your position, salary, contract length, and job responsibility
- business registration and license
- vat registration certificate
- a list of shareholders
- a list of all expat workers with their names, nationalities, positions, and salaries
- a company map
- a list of all financial documents and statements from the latest fiscal year
*To get the approval letter, the employer must also hand in a pile of documents to relevant government organizations. The process takes weeks.
From your side, you’ll need these documents:
- a copy of your passport valid for more than six months and two blank pages on both side*
- an application form
- two passport size photos (4cm x 6cm) taken within six months with a white background
- bank statement with at least 20,000 baht for a single person or 40,000 baht for a family
- a copy of your work permit if you worked in Thailand before
- employment certificate from previous employers**
*Although you can apply for a Non-B visa with six months left on your passport, it’s better to apply for it when you have more than two years on your passport. This way you won’t have to worry about transferring the Non-B visa to a new passport.
**Your employer needs these document to get the approval letter from related government organizations. But Thai embassies might not ask for them.
For a teaching job, you also have to hand in your resume and any teaching certificates or TEFLs. You might have to hand in a criminal background check as well. But this happens on a case-by-case basis.
Keep in mind that the required documents are different at each Thai embassy. You should always check with the Thai embassy you’re applying at before you go there.
Submit Your Application and Documents
You can apply for your Non-B visa either outside of Thailand at any Thai embassy or inside of Thailand.
Let’s take a look at how the process works.
You can apply for a single-entry Non-B visa at any Thai embassy in the world, including in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore, if you’re:
If you’re another nationality, check with the Thai embassy you’re planning to apply at. Use this link to find the contact info for all Thai Embassies.
If you’re from an African country, you might have to fly back home and apply for the visa in your country.
If there aren’t any Thai embassies in your country contact the Thai consulate and ask for their suggestions. You may need to go to a nearby country to apply for your Non-B visa.
If you’re in Thailand on a tourist visa it’s possible to convert your visa into a Non-B visa at the immigration office. But you’ll have to face a few more stringent requirements.
- you must have at least 21 days left on your tourist visa
- you need more supporting documents from your employer–if they can prepare them on time
Converting your tourist visa to a Non-B visa is a great option if you’re from an African country. But you can do this only if you have your criminal background check with you.
If you don’t have it, you’ll have to fly back home and get the criminal background check. Then you can just apply for your visa in your home country.
For everyone else, once all your documents are submitted your visa should be processed within three working days.
Extend Your Single-Entry Visa
Extending your single-entry Non-B visa is the last part of the visa application process.
Once your Non-B visa is approved, you will normally get a 90-day Non-B visa.
You can extend your Non-B visa in Thailand at Immigration Division 1 for a year or two depending on:
- your position
- the company’s profile
- the immigration officer’s decision
If you work for a BOI-promoted company, you have to go to the One-Stop Service Center to extend your visa.
To extend your visa, you have to hand in the similar documents that you used to apply for your visa. But you’ll also need to hand in your Thai work permit, which you’ll apply for after you get your Non-B visa.
If you can’t extend your visa before it expires, you have to leave Thailand and re-apply for the visa.
When extending the business visa, you have an option to choose between getting a single re-entry permit for 1,000 baht or a multiple re-entry permit for 3,800 baht per year.
The main difference between the two permits is that with a single re-entry permit, you have to apply for a re-entry permit every time you leave Thailand and want to come back in. If you don’t, you’ll lose your visa.
With a multiple re-entry permit you’re free to come and go as you please and you won’t lose your visa.
Read our guide to re-entry permits for more info.
Once you have your Non-B visa the only thing you have to do for the duration of your stay is report to immigration every 90 days.
If you have to get a new passport for any reason, your embassy will give you a letter asking Thai immigration to transfer your Non-B visa to your new passport.
Take that letter to immigration and they will transfer your visa for free.
You can renew your Non-B visa in Thailand 90 days before it expires. The renewal process is the same as the visa extension process.
But when you renew your Non-B visa you’ll get a one- or two-year visa without having to go through the initial extension process again.
Your Non-B visa is canceled as soon as you’re fired, you quit, or you resign from work and your employer notifies the Thai government.
Once they tell the relevant authorities you have two options:
- leave Thailand within 24 hours
- go to immigration and apply for a seven-day visa extension for 1,900 baht
If you don’t do either of these two, you have to pay an overstay fine and you run the risk of being blacklisted.
And if you overstay your visa, it could hurt your chances of getting a new visa in the future.
To avoid breaking any Thai laws, follow the right process when or if your Non-B visa is canceled.
Can I fly to Thailand with a Business Visa during COVID-19?
The answer is yes.
Actually, Business Visa holders with work permits were one of the first groups allowed to enter Thailand since April 2020.
If you just got a job in Thailand and don’t have a work permit yet, as of now, it’s still possible to enter Thailand with a Business Visa. You can apply for one at your local Royal Thai Embassy.
Instead of a work permit, you will need to get a letter of approval for employment. Your employer needs to get it for you, usually from either the Thailand Board of Investment or the Ministry of Labour.
Please note that each local Royal Thai Embassy has different regulations. If you don’t have a work permit, some embassy may not allow you to enter Thailand yet.
In the picture below from the Ministry of Foreign Affiairs, you can see what you need to do in order to enter Thailand with a Business Visa during the country lockdown.
You can also check our complete guide to flying back to Thailand during COVID-19 to find out what you need to do after getting the visa.
When you change jobs you have to apply for a new Non-B visa. Applying for a new visa will depend on two scenarios:
Your Previous and New Employer Promoted by the BOI
If your current and new employer are promotion by the BOI you can apply for a visa in Thailand and get a one- or two-year visa.
But your current employer mustn’t tell the BOI to cancel your visa until your new employer gets a BOI approval letter for you.
Your Previous or New Employer Aren’t Promoted by the BOI
If neither of your employers aren’t promoted by the BOI you have to leave Thailand and apply for a new Non-B visa in another country.
When you have a Non-B visa your parents, spouse, and unmarried children younger than 20 years old can apply for a Non-immigrant “O” visa and stay in Thailand with you.
The application process and needed documents are the same as the application process and needed documents for a Non-B visa.
But they also have to hand in their passport, pictures, and either their marriage or birth certificates.
They’ll be given a duration of stay in Thailand similar to the duration on your Non-B visa.
Alternative Business Visas
In addition to the Non-Immigrant Visa “B” there are other visas that let you work or run a business in Thailand.
- Smart Visa
- Non-Immigrant Visa “O”
The Smart Visa is like an upgraded version of a Non-B visa. Thailand’s BOI introduced the visa in Thailand in 2018.
The Smart Visa has five major benefits for the visa holder:
- you can renew it every four-years
- you can work in Thailand without a work permit
- you report to immigration once a year–not every 90 days
- you can leave and re-enter Thailand without a re-entry permit
- your spouse and kids get the same benefits
The Smart Visa is for highly-skilled workers with at least ten years of working experience and a minimum salary of 200,000 baht per month.
Read our guide to the Smart Visa to find out more about it.
Business Meeting Visa
If you’re not working for a Thai company but you want to come to Thailand for business purposes, you can get a Non-Immigrant Visa “B”.
To do so, you usually need to apply at the Thai embassy in your home country with the following documents:
- an invitation letter from a Thai company/organization and their business registration certificate
- the letter from your company stating your name, position, salary, objectives, length of stay in Thailand, and your company’s business registration
You’ll get a visa for the length of time needed to do business in Thailand.
Non-Immigrant Visa “O”
If you have a Non-Immigrant Visa “O” for marriage and a work permit, then, you can work in Thailand.
The main difference between the Non-O and the Non-B visa is that with a Non-O visa you’re responsible for your visa and subsequent renewals–not your employer. So your employer can’t help you in this case.
But the good part is that your visa won’t be canceled if or when you leave your job.
Thailand Elite Visa
The Thailand Elite Visa is an upgraded tourist visa. It’s a visa for investors who want to stay in Thailand and make a living out of investing in stocks and company shares.
It gives you at least a five-year stay in Thailand and requires very little paperwork.
However, you can’t get a work permit with it. This means you shouldn’t be involved with any activities that can be interpreted as you working in Thailand.
You can read our Thailand Elite Visa review to find out more about this visa option.
There are other visas such as Non-Immigrant Visa “B-A” and Non-Immigrant Visa “IB” that’ll let you work in Thailand.
These visas are for investors who run companies or invest in Thailand.
However, these visas are rarely issued since they overlap with the Non-Immigrant Visa “B”.
Now, on to You
Getting the Non-Immigrant Visa B is a straightforward process if you get a job from a company in Thailand that can legally hire expats.