If you plan to work in Thailand, you are legally required to have a work permit. A necessary prerequisite for a work permit is a Non-immigrant ‘B’ Visa. A necessary prerequisite of both is a job offer from a Thai company. If you do not have a job offer from a Thai company, you can start your own company, usually with the help of a lawyer.
To be able to acquire a work permit for its employees (you), a company must be majority-owned by Thai nationals (i.e. 51 percent Thai shareholders, meaning you can own only a maximum of 49 percent). For more information about starting companies in Thailand, please see “How to Buy Land and Building A House in Thailand.” Applying for a Non-immigrant B Visa and a work permit is a relatively complex process, involving many Thai documents, and is usually handled by a lawyer. Typically, a lawyer will charge about 10,000-15,000 baht for the initial application (not including company set-up) and 4,000 baht for work-permit extension, which is required every three months (unless extended).
A full package including company set-up, visa, and work permit, is typically about 40,000 baht. Check that your lawyer is experienced in visa and work permit applications. If you are unsure of local legal services, seek out the larger national law firms such as Law Firm or Sunbelt Asia. It is possible to apply for a visa and work permit yourself for about 2,000 baht in filing fees, but unless you read and write Thai very well, you will need a substantial amount of help. You can apply for a Non-immigrant B Visa in your home country or any Thai consulate outside Thailand. If you are already in Thailand, the simplest way is to go to the Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia. The requirements for getting a Non-immigrant Visa are:
1. The applicant has been offered a job or is starting a Thai company to employ himself/herself.
2. The company requests that the applicant be given a Non-immigrant Visa so the company may apply for a work permit for him/her.
3. The company knows the person to be dependable, upstanding, and law abiding, and that they will respect the laws and customs of the Kingdom of Thailand.
The consulate or consular officer will ask for copies of the registration documents and financial statements from the company.