Thailand – New Work Permit Policy for ASEAN Workers, Rules for Visa Over-Stays

Thailand – New Work Permit Policy for ASEAN Workers

In this GMS Flash Alert we discuss recent changes from the Thai immigration authorities dealing with relaxed work permit rules for workers from ASEAN member countries and ban periods for foreigners who have over-stayed in Thailand.

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In this GMS Flash Alert we discuss recent changes from the Thai immigration authorities dealing with (1) relaxed work permit rules, for certain sectors, applying to workers from ASEAN member countries and (2) ban periods for foreigners who have not complied with the permitted periods provided in their visas and have over-stayed in Thailand. 

WHY THIS MATTERS

The partial relaxation of the work permit rules promotes the movement of labor more freely from and among ASEAN member countries and on an expedited basis.  The ASEAN member countries that signed the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Therefore, a qualifying professional from Thailand can work in any other member country provided the professional has obtained an ASEAN Chartered Professional License and has complied with any additional local regulations imposed by the member country.

The ban periods could apply to any expatriate working in Thailand whether from an ASEAN country or not and, if not carefully monitored, could result in these expatriate employees being forced to leave Thailand and unable to honor work commitments going forward. 

Work Permits for Workers from ASEAN Member Countries

From January 2016 onwards, the Thai work permit rules for 7 professional careers and 32 positions in the hotel and tourism business will be partially relaxed in favor of individuals from ASEAN member countries.1

Previously, work permits for these professional careers and positions were completely unavailable.  However, following the signing of the MRA between ASEAN member countries, the Thai Department of Labour will now issue work permits within 1 day (normally it can take 5 to 7 days) for qualifying individuals who have an ASEAN Chartered Professional License in their home countries and, in some instances, have passed a local exam in Thailand.  Different procedures will apply depending on the specific professional council involved, i.e., Council of Engineers, Architects Council of Thailand, Medical Council, etc. 

The professional careers and positions falling within the new work permit rules are: 

1. Engineering;

2. Exploration;

3. Architecture;

4. Doctor;    

5. Dentist;

6. Nurse; 

7. Accountant; and

8. 32 positions in the hotel and tourism sectors.

 

KPMG NOTE

It is important to highlight that the relaxation of the rules only applies in respect of work permits.  Therefore, the foreign worker will still be required to comply with local in-country regulations and obtain a non-Immigrant “B” visa before being allowed to work in Thailand. 

Ban Period for Over-Stays in Thailand

The Immigration Bureau has recently introduced ban periods for foreigners who have not complied with the permitted periods provided in their visas and have over-stayed in Thailand.

The ban period for re-entering Thailand in the case of a foreign individual (whether from an ASEAN country or not) who has over-stayed his or her visa in Thailand beyond the permitted period will be strictly enforced from 20 March 2016 onwards.  In that case, the following could apply:

1.  The foreign individual can voluntarily surrender to the Immigration Authority, in which case the following ban periods will apply:

  • over-stay more than 90 days; ban to re-entering is 1 year;
  • over-stay more than 1 year; ban to re-entering is 3 years;
  • over-stay more than 3 years; ban to re-entering is 5 years;
  • over-stay more than 5 years; ban to re-entering is 10 years.

2.  The foreign individual does not voluntarily surrender and thus risks being arrested and prosecuted, in which case the following ban periods will apply:

  • over-stay less than 1 year; ban to re-entering is 5 years;
  • over-stay more than 1 year; ban to re-entering is 10 years.  

KPMG NOTE

We recommend that foreign individuals carefully check their permitted visa periods and make sure an extension is requested in advance to prevent over-stays and the imposition of a ban period.

FOOTNOTES

1  See (in Thai): http://wp.doe.go.th/wp/images/pr/pr_aec.pdf.

2  See (in English): http://overstay.immigration.go.th/advice.html.

CONTACTS

For further information or assistance, please contact your local GMS or People Services professional*, or the following professionals with the KPMG International member firm in Thailand:

 

Lynn Tastan 

Tel. +66 2677 2477

ltastan@kpmg.co.th  

 

Tanittha Cha-Um 

Tel. +66 2677 2466 

Tanittha@kpmg.co.th 

 

Wanpratueng Ramgomut 

Tel. +66 2677 2565 

Wanpratueng@kpmg.co.th 

 

* Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide immigration services.

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Thailand.

© 2016 KPMG Phoomchai Tax Ltd., a Thailand limited liability company and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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