Thailand: Visa-On-Arrival Nationals Must Have Consular Visa to Obtain Urgent Work Permit
Pursuant to a new government policy, nationals of the 28 countries that qualify for a visa on arrival — including China and India — must obtain a nonimmigrant B visa from a Thai consulate overseas if they will apply for an Urgent Work Permit for short-term business activities after arrival.
Nationals of the 28 countries that qualify for a 15-day visa on arrival — including China and India — must now obtain a nonimmigrant B visa from a Thai consulate overseas if they will plan to apply after arrival for an Urgent Work Permit, the authorization required to conduct most short-term business activities in the country. There are no changes to Urgent Work Permit requirements for any other foreign nationals.
In an unpublicized change in policy, the Thai One Stop Service Center recently began rejecting Urgent Work Permit applications from visa-on-arrival nationals, contending that the visas obtained on arrival are subject to a condition prohibiting employment. Previously, these nationals were able to obtain an Urgent Work Permit without restriction.
Unlike most countries, Thailand requires visitors to obtain a work permit for nearly all business activities. Business visitors entering for 15 days or less usually seek an Urgent Work Permit after arrival.
Because the change in policy has not been publicly announced, the policy may not be consistently applied in all cases. There may also be further changes without notice. Fragomen is closely monitoring these developments in Thailand and will provide updates once available.
To ensure full compliance, prospective Urgent Work Permit applicants who are visa-on-arrival nationals should obtain a nonimmigrant B visa at a Thai diplomatic post overseas prior to travel. Failure to do so may result in the traveler being deemed ineligible to apply for an Urgent Work Permit after arriving.
Note that nonimmigrant B visa applications may be subject to varying requirements depending on the diplomatic post. Applicants should contact their immigration service provider or the relevant consular post for specific guidance on the B visa application process.
Fragomen worked closely with Dej-Udom & Associates Ltd. (Bangkok) to prepare this alert. It is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Global or send an email to APCCInitiations@fragomen.com.