How to get a Visa and work in Thailand.
We often get ask about working in Thailand (Phuket, Pattaya, Phi Phi, Koh Samui) after completing the IDC and IE, as new Dive Instructors want to be able to stay in Thailand and continue working.
You have several options here – you can work without a work permit – and you should be able to get a job easy enough on some of the Islands like Koh Samui and Phi Phi where you normally do not need a work permit (although spot checks by the Police do happen) or if you want a work permit then in order to get one you would need a Non-Immigrant B visa.
You have several choices when it comes to visas:
- You enter the country without a visa, they will then give you a 15 day stamp allowing you to stay in Thailand for 15 days, after that you leave and either return with a visa or simply get another 30 day stamp.
- You enter the country on a Tourist visa, which is what most people have, a double entry tourist visa will give you a 2 month entry stamp, after that you leave the country and return the same day, these are called “visa bounces”
- You get a 6 (or 12) month multiple entry non-immigrant O or B class visa. The 6 / 12 month multiple entry means that you can come in and out of Thailand as many times as you like without getting a new visa, the “O” visa is primarily for study, “B” is what you need to apply for a work permit.A 12 month multiple non-immigrant B is the most desirable.
The best way to do this, is for your IDC Course Director to fax directly to the Consulate, and to you, a copy of the receipt of your IDC deposit along with a letter inviting you here and asking them to please grant you a non-immigrant B Visa.
Although there isn’t much difference in the visas, if you come as a tourist then you would get a tourist visa (single or multiple entry) which would give you two months upon arrival, then you need to leave and come back in – or on a non-immigrant visa you get three months and then you have to leave but this is what you need to get a Work Permit.
Probably about 40% of all instructors are working in Thailand without a work permit, we know of instructors that did, and had to pay a few ‘fines’ or bribes to the Thai Police, but hats another story. the other 60% have work permits, but whether you have a work permit or not you still have to do a visa run every 3 months.
And what is a visa run ??
A visa run or bounce simply means driving to a Thai Border and simply walking over the border and getting “stamped out” and then walking back in again and getting another entry stamp, total time outside of Thailand being about 5 minutes, all you do is get stamped out walk across and join the queue to come back in again, I have even had it that they simply tell you to sit down and take your passport from one booth to the next and back again, then you get another 3 months stamped in your passport.
From Phuket the easiest bounce is to Burma near Ranong, costs is around 1,000 THB, leave 06:00, have breakfast and lunch on the way and you should be back on Phuket around 17:00. Very well organised nowadays and there are loads of companies offering this service. Also you can simply rent a car for the day with a couple of friends who also need to do a visa run – you’ll meet plenty of people and make plenty of friends very quickly, and drive there and back yourself.
Types of Visas for THAILAND
There are several types of visa available and they are dependant on your nationality. It is best to contact the Thai embassy/consulate or travel agent in your country for exact requirements prior to leaving as requirements may be specific to your nationality or may change.
For scuba diving courses, providing you meet the immigration requirements, a standard tourist visa will be fine.
- 28 day tourist visa – available when you arrive in Thailand (depending on nationality)
- 3 month tourist visa – available from a Thai embassy prior to departure from your country
- 28 day non-immigrant B – required for working in Thailand
- 1 year non-immigrant B – single entry – required for working in Thailand
- 1 year non-immigrant B – multiple entry – required for working in Thailand
There are non-immigrant visas available for people wishing to study full time or retire in Thailand, again checking prior to departing your country with the Thai embassy/consulate or with your travel agent is recommended.
Scuba Diving Jobs and Qualifications Required in Thailand
Qualifications are important for working in Thailand, as the Labor Department of Thailand checks qualifications prior to issuing Work Permits. Work Permits are issued on the same criteria as other countries, that you will be bringing to Thailand skills that are not readily available to the market and that are required by the market. Working without a valid work permit will be breaking the law of The Kingdom of Thailand and can carry some severe penalties, both for the individual and the company they are working for. (Visa requirements for work permits are covered under the visa section and a non-immigrant B visa will require generally proof of an application of a work permit to be issued).
There are plenty of Thai nationals that have the PADI Dive Master qualification and higher (or equivalent qualification from another training agency), though the higher certifications (PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor or equivalent certification from another training agency) and above, are not in the quantities that the dive business in Thailand needs, particularly during the high demand periods for certain areas of Thailand, so generally the minimum qualification required is PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor or equivalent certification from another training agency. There are very few exceptions to work permits being issued to Dive Masters, and these tend to be on the basis of specialist knowledge, experience, languages spoken and knowledge of the areas that are dived. This would also be applicable to retail staff or dive centre management as certifications in servicing equipment and previous dive retail experience would also be important.
The Thai authorities are working their way towards being as strict as many other countries concerning “busman holidays” or working just the peak seasons and then leaving, especially when the individuals are not carrying the correct visa or documentation.
There is no reason why if you wish to progress your qualifications, to the levels required to be able to apply for a Work Permit, that you can not, with the help of the dive centre you wish to do your training with you should be able to help you obtain a non-immigrant “O” visa for educational reasons. This visa also does not permit working in Thailand, unless it is within the scope of the course you are studying (ie PADI Dive Master course). This visa is also covered in the visa section. There are many dive centres able to offer courses that can take you to the level of Instructor or above, and with who, where and which training agency you wish to do your courses with is always up to you. Do bear in mind that, as with all business, that whether you wish to work in a niche part of the market or in the mainstream there are advantages and disadvantages with both, but to be most in demand you have to be in the main market to start with. So do choose carefully for the market place you wish to work in, the training agency, the dive company conducting the training, the area you wish to stay in and the possibilities for the future. Do not just base your decision on price, as this often results in disappointment.
But once I get this work permit how much can I expect to earn as an Instructor in Thailand ?