Thailand: Work permits to be issued faster

The Employment Department has recently announced a shorter processing time for issuance of work permit booklets for foreign nationals who hold a “pre-work permit approval.”

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What does the change mean? After a foreign employee arrives in Thailand and submits the pre-work permit approval to request a work permit booklet, the Employment Department will now complete the process within three to four business days (instead of seven business days).

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permit.
  • Who is affected: Foreign employees holding a pre-work permit approval applying for a work permit in Thailand.
  • Business impact: Sponsoring companies and foreign employees may complete the work authorization process more efficiently and in a shorter time.
  • Next steps: Companies should factor the shorter timeline into their business schedules and start dates.

Background: The Employment Department has implemented the change to improve the efficiency of their internal process, resulting in a faster turnaround time on work permit applications for those holding a pre-work permit approval. The pre-work permit approval is a document required of foreign nationals who need to obtain a Non-Immigrant B visa prior to travel to Thailand. Foreign nationals must submit the approval along with their medical certificate and passport upon arrival in Thailand in order to complete the work permit application process.

With the faster processing time, the Employment Department is requiring foreign employees to pick up their work permits within three business days from the date of issuance. Although the rule has not been officially announced, authorities have verbally indicated that foreign employees who do not collect their work permits on time could have their permits canceled.

BAL Analysis: The improved processing time for work permit applications that involve pre-work permit approvals will reduce overall wait times for foreign nationals who require the approval before seeking a work permit. It should be noted that applications submitted via the Board of Investment or One Stop Service Centre are not affected by this recent change.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Thailand. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from seven offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

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