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Complete guide to Thailand non-immigrant visas, their types, and FAQs

There are four main types of visas which the Thai government issues to foreigners:

  • Thailand Tourist Visa, which is issued to visa-required foreigners entering Thailand for tourism or leisure activities.
  • Thailand Transit Visa, which is issued to foreigners who will enter the territory of the Kingdom of Thailand in order to make their way to a third country of destination.
  • Thailand SMART Visa, which is aimed at highly-skilled foreigners, encouraging them to work or invest in one of Thailand’s ten targeted industries.
  • Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa, which is issued to foreigners entering Thailand for reasons other than tourism or leisure.

This article will detail the Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa, including the types, application process, duration, and other relevant questions.

What is a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa?

The Non-immigrant Visa for Thailand is the type of visa you have to apply for if you want to live in Thailand long-term or if you want to travel there for a reason other than tourism or transit. For example, if you want to study, work, invest, receive medical treatment, join your Thai spouse, etc, you have to apply for a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa.

More specifically, you have to apply for the type of Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa that’s suited to your purpose of travel.

Who Needs a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa?

Everyone who wants to travel to Thailand for one of the reasons for which the Thai Non-Immigrant Visa is issued has to apply for one.

There is a number of countries whose nationals are exempt from holding a Thai Visa for tourism purposes. However, even they have to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa because:

  1. The exemption is for tourism purposes
  2. In most cases, after you enter the country with your Non-Immigrant Visa, you have to go to the Immigration Department in Thailand to extend your stay (ie. if you’re going to study, work, retire, etc). You cannot extend your stay if you are in the country under the visa-exemption rule.

What Are the Thai Non-Immigrant Visa Types?

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa is categorized into the following types:

  • F Visa Category. 
  • B Visa Category. 
  • IM Visa Category.
  • ED Visa Category. 
  • M Visa Category. 
  • R Visa Category.
  • RS Visa Category.
  • EX Visa Category.
  • O Visa Category.
  • O-A and O-X Visa Category. 

F Visa Category

The Category F of the Thai Non-Immigrant Visa is issued to foreigners who hold an ordinary passport and who are traveling for official duties, such as work with a government agency, embassy or consulate, an international organization or a state enterprise in Thailand.

B Visa Category

The Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa B is issued if you are traveling for the following purposes:

If you want to work in Thailand, you also have to get a Thai Work Permit. You cannot get a Work Permit if you do not have a Non-Immigrant Visa Category B.

IM Visa Category

A Thai Non-Immigrant Visa IM is issued if you want to travel to Thailand for investment purposes, provided that you have the approval of the relevant Thai Ministries and Government Departments.

ED Visa Category

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa ED is issued for educational purposes. For example, if you have been accepted into a Thai educational institution, and you want to study there, you have to apply for a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa ED (see Thailand Student Visa).

Additionally, you can also apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa ED if you will take part in a project or seminar, attend a conference or training course, etc.

M Visa Category

Tha Thai Non-Immigrant Visa M is issued to members of the media. You can apply for this type of visa if you will work in Thailand as a film-producer, journalist or reporter.

As a film producer, you need prior approval from the Thailand Film Office, and as a journalist or reporter, you have to get approval from the Department of Information of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

R Visa Category

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa R, also referred to as a visa “R-A” is issued for religious purposes. You need this type of visa if you are traveling to Thailand to do missionary work or other religious activities with the approval of the relevant Thai Ministries or Government Departments.

RS Visa Category

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa RS is issued to foreigners traveling to Thailand to conduct scientific research or to train and/or teach in a research institute in Thailand.

EX Visa Category

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa EX is issued to highly-skilled foreigners who are traveling to Thailand to work as experts and categories.

O Visa Category

The Thai Non-Immigrant Visa O is issued for the following reasons:

  • To join your Thai spouse (Thai Marriage Visa)
  • To travel with your family member who is traveling for work or studying purposes
  • To work for a state enterprise or social welfare organization
  • To work in the household of someone traveling for diplomatic reasons
  • To receive medical treatment
  • To act as a contestant or a witness in a judicial process
  • To work as a sports coach, as called by the Thai Government

O-A and O-X Visa Category

The Non-Immigrant Visas  O-A and O-X are both Thai Retirement Visas. The difference between the two is that:

  • Thai Non-Immigrant Visa O-A is issued to foreigners over the age of 50 from all countries. It is valid for a maximum of 1 year, and renewable.
  • Thai Non-Immigrant Visa O-X is issued to foreigners over the age of 50 from certain countries. It is issued for 5 years’ duration and can be renewed for another five years.

Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa Requirements

When you submit a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa application, you must have several supporting documents, such as:

  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least another six months and have at least two blank visa pages. If you’re applying for a one-year visa, your passport should be valid for at least another 18 months.
  • A completed and signed Thailand Visa application form. You may be able to download it from the website of the Embassy or Consulate where you are applying or get it there if you apply in person.
  • Passport-sized picture of yourself, with the following specifications:
    • White background
    • Taken within the last six months
    • You must have a neutral facial expression, staring straight ahead
    • Your entire face must be fully visible
    • Headgear is only allowed for religious purposes and even then, only if it does not cover the face
    • Glasses are allowed only if they do not cover your eyes and do not have heavy frames
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover the duration of your stay. You need 20,000 Thai Baht if you are traveling alone and 40,000 Thai Baht if you are traveling as a family.
  • Payment of the Thai Non-Immigrant Visa fee
  • Additional documents depending on the purpose of your stay.

How Can I Apply for a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa?

You have to apply for a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate in your country.

  1. Contact the Thailand Embassy or Consulate where you will submit the visa application or visit their website. Learn about the opening hours, working days, and if you have to make an appointment. You can find a list of the diplomatic mission offices of Thailand here.
  2. Collect the required documents for the specific Non-Immigrant Visa you are applying for
  3. Submit the documents and visa application. Depending on which Embassy/Consulate you apply in, you can submit the application:
    • In-person
    • Through the post, in which case you have to enclose a pre-paid and self-addressed envelope
  4. Wait for the application to be processed
  5. Collect your passport with the visa affixed. If you applied by mail, the Embassy/Consulate will mail it to you.

Note: If you are already in Thailand on another type of visa, you can apply to change the category to another type of Non-Immigrant Visa at the Thailand Immigration Department in Bangkok. This does not apply to holders of a Thai Visa On Arrival.

Can I Get a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa on Arrival?

No, you cannot. The Thailand Visa On Arrival is only issued for tourism purposes, and for a non-extendable period of 15 days.

What Should I Do After I Enter Thailand With a Non-Immigrant Visa?

After you enter Thailand using your Non-Immigrant Visa, depending on the purpose for which you got it, you have to submit a 90-Day Report to the Thai Immigration authorities. This means that every 90 days that you continue to live in Thailand, you have to go to your local office of the Thailand Immigration Department and report your current address, even if it has not changed.

The only exception is in the case of the Thai SMART Visa, where the holders have to report their stay annually, rather than every 90 days.

Applying to Get a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa Extension

Non-Immigrant Visas are usually issued for a maximum of 90 days. So, if you want to stay longer than that, then you have to get a one-year visa extension from the Bureau of Immigration in Bangkok.

Before the visa extension expires, you can re-apply for another one-year extension, if you meet the requirements to continue living in Thailand.

Once you have lived in Thailand through Visa Extensions for at least three years, you may be eligible for Thailand Permanent Residency.

Applying to Get a Re-Entry Permit

After you extend your visa, you also have to apply for a  Re-Entry Permit, in order to be allowed to leave and re-enter Thailand without your visa becoming void. If you do not get a Re-Entry Permit before you leave Thailand, you will have used up your single entry, and you won’t be allowed back in unless you get another visa.

The Thailand Re-Entry Permit can be issued for a single entry or for multiple entries.

What Is the Duration of a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa?

The duration of a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa depends on what type of visa you’re applying for. They can be issued for the following durations:

  • Single-entry for up to three months
  • Multiple-entry, for up to three months

However, in some cases, such as for business or retirement, the visa can be issued for multiple entries for up to one year.

Even if you receive a Thailand multiple-entry visa, you cannot stay in Thailand longer than 90 days per entry.

How Much Does a Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa Cost?

The processing fee for a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa changes depending on several factors, such as the local currency, the duration of the visa, and the Embassy/Consulate in which you apply.

However, you can expect to pay approximately:

  • 2,000 Thai Baht for a single-entry Non-Immigrant Visa with three-months’ validity.
  • 5,000 Thai Baht for a multiple-entry Non-Immigrant Visa with one-year validity.
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