Getting a Thailand non-immigrant B visa, also popularly known as Thai non-B visa isn’t really that complicated. But, getting Thailand non-immigrant visa from South Africa is not as straightforward as many other nationalities.
A little bit of backstory first.
At the time I started pursuing English teaching positions in Thailand, I was at the other end of the world that was nothing like Thailand. Thousands of miles away. Top Tier Tutors, the tutoring company I had found when I was in university, was going so well. At the same time, going to Thailand and living in South East Asia was something I had been rooting for a long time. Teaching English would allow me to do this. And a Thai non-B visa and a subsequent Thai work permit based on that visa would allow me to teach English legally.
There is no such thing as Thai work visa. You have to get a Thai non-B visa and then apply for a work permit in Thailand that runs parallel to the non-B visa.
Just so you know, a non-immigrant B visa can be issued for teaching English, working as a sports coach, work in a company or conduct business. In case you are interested, here is everything you need to know about teaching in Thailand.
There are many other types of Thai visas.
How to Apply for Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa
The thing is, you can get the Thai non-B visa through the Thai embassy in South Africa before you leave if you already have a job lined up in Thailand. In my case, I came on a tourist visa for Thailand and then got a job, after which I had to do a border run for my Thai non-B visa.
I got my Thai visa in Vientiane. To apply for it, you must book an appointment in the embassy beforehand. There are no walk-ins. You can book the appointment online.
You will need to sign up at the website with your personal details and then you will be able to make an appointment up to 30 days ahead of time. Try to book in advance or as soon as you certain of your travel plans. And make sure to show up.
Thai Non-B Visa Requirements
As per the website of the Vientiane Thai embassy, here are the documents that you need for the Thai non-immigrant B visa.
1.Thai Visa Application Form
You need to fill in the visa application form for the Thai Non-B visa. You can download it from the website of Thai consulate in Vientiane and fill it beforehand.
2.Thai Visa Photo Requirements
You need to submit two passport-sized photos taken within 6 months. While 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm is the normally accepted passport photo size, some Thai consulates can ask for 2 cm X 2 cm photos as well. It’s best to check with the consulate beforehand.
In Vientiane, they need a 3.5 x 4.5 cm passport size photo.
You need to provide an original invitation letter from an employer in Thailand, requesting for visa issuance, indicating details of employment, including position, salary and length of contract.
4.WP3 Form or Letter from BOI(Original)
An original “WP3” form which has been submitted by applicant’s potential employer to the Alien Occupational Control Division, Department of Employment, Ministry of Labour (Japanese nationals are exempted from submitting this document, in accordance with JTEPA)
An original letter from the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) (compulsory for category “IB”)
This is irrelevant to teachers. However, if you are working in some other job, you might need those.
5. Company’s Registration
For your Thai non-immigrant visa application, you need to provide a copy of the company’s registration/business license.
6.Original Work Permit
This only applies to applicants who previously obtained the Non-Immigrant “B” visa. If you did, then you are obligated to present their original Thai work permit or its notarized copy of such documents to the Royal Thai Embassy.
Your original passport with validity of at least a year and half.
Additional Thai Visa Requirements for Teaching:
Apart from the documents listed above, they also need the following based on your profession. Since mine was teaching, they needed
- An original letter of approval from a concerned government agency such as the Office of the Private Education Commission or the Office of the Basic Education Commission
- An original letter requesting for visa issuance, signed by the school director or an authorized person with the school seal/stamp (for international schools)
- An original letter of acceptance from employing institution or school in Thailand.
- A police certificate or an original letter of criminal record clearance issued from the country of applicant’s nationality or residence (valid for not more than three months and should be notarized by notary organs or a diplomatic or consular mission)
- A curriculum vitae or a resume
- Evidence of educational qualification such as diplomas or teaching certificates.
- A school license or business registration, list of shareholders and school profile.
Even though it’s not mentioned, you will need proof of the principal’s registration as well as a signed copy of their ID.
Along with all these, I also submitted my TESOL certificate and TOEIC result but they weren’t necessary for my Thai non-immigrant B visa.
The thing is there are some documents that you have to get from your home country if you are from South Africa or any other African country for that matter. The other documents- you can get them in Thailand.
Documents to Bring before Coming to Thailand
For the Thai Non-B visa, you need to submit the original police clearance certificate from your home country and a notarized degree. It’s very important that you get these done in your home country, otherwise you might need to fly back to your home country for this.
I got my police clearance certificate from South Africa before coming to Thailand. It’s valid for 6 months. If you are applying for the Thailand non-immigrant visa from South Africa, you would need to do it as well. Although the Thai embassy in Vientiane asks that it should be notarized, I didn’t do so and they were fine with it.
As per the degree, I got it notarized in South Africa as well. For this, I used a company called 123attested. They pretty much did everything and were relatively cheap.
Preparing the Documents in Thailand
AfterI entered Thailand as a tourist, I got myself into a whirlwind of documents. It took a lot of trips and effort to get them all together. I obtained all the documents related to the school in Thailand. I got my Thai police clearance done in the forensics office in Phuket. It costs 100 THB and it was easy to get.
Here is what a sample Thailand police clearance certificate looks like. It can take some7-10 days to get. So make plans accordingly.
Getting the Thai Non-B Visa in Vientiane, Laos
Once I got everything sorted, I did the visa run to Vientiane in Laos.
The Thai consular section that issues the visa is close to Lao-Singapore Business College. It’s not the Thai embassy as opposed to the norm.
Address of Consular Section of Thailand in Vientiane
No. 15 Ban Ponesinuan, Bourichane Road, Vientiane.
Official website : www.thaivisavientiane.com.
Tel: (+856) 21 453916
Working hours : 9 am-12 pm for visa applications ( Monday to Friday)
I downloaded the Thailand visa application form from the Thai consulate’s website and filled it up before getting to the consulate. I would ask you to do the same so that you don’t waste the consular officer’s time. I did need a copy of my Laos tourist visa to get past the first checkpoint where officials confirmed your appointment.
If you don’t have the photos and/or photocopies, you can get them done in the 2nd floor of the consulate. Make sure you have money in THBs to pay for.
Complete the application to the best of your ability. If you are unsure, leave blank. The staff will let you know what needs to be completed and what can be left blank.
After that, I handed over my paperwork and passport to the staff. Once they okayed everything, I paid the visa fees and left for the day. The visa fee was 2000 THB that must be paid in cash (Thai baht) only.
The next day, I picked up my passport with the Thai Non-B visa. The passport collection time is from 13:30-16:00.
Visas are a 2-day process. The day you apply and the following day when you collect your passport with the visa. If you apply on a Friday, it will be Monday before you can collect your passport.
If you come prepared and have the right documents, you can get the Thailand Non-immigrant visa in a consulate outside of your home country. If you want to work in Thailand, please do your homework beforehand. It’s an amazing country that I fall in love with a little more everyday.