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Government crackdown on foreigners teaching without work permits

Maya Taylor




Thailand’s Ministry of Labour is cracking down on foreign teachers who may be working in the Kingdom without valid work permits. The ministry has instructed the Department of Employment to apply stricter criteria when issuing work permits to foreign teachers. According to department figures, Thailand currently has 6,129 foreigners teaching in 922 private and public schools. Of those, 2,667 are from the Philippines, 558 from the UK, 465 from the US, 237 from China, and 160 from South Africa. The remainder are from other countries.

The Bangkok Post reports that authorities discovered 8 foreign teachers not in possession of work permits or working in reserved professions. Of those, 3 failed to notify government employment officials of their employer, place of work, and duties within 15 days of taking up employment. Officials also discovered a school that was hiring foreign teachers without work permits, as well as hiring foreigners to carry out work they were not permitted to do. A further 20 schools are accused of not providing the names, nationalities, and duties performed by foreign teachers within 15 days of them beginning work.

Officials say foreign teachers must be in possession of a non-immigrant visa, not a tourist or transit visa and should apply for a work permit at their local employment office. Foreigners teaching without work permits may face fines of 5,000 – 50,000 baht and deportation. Schools or other academic institutions that hire foreign teachers illegally face fines of between 10,000 and 100,000 baht for each illegal worker, with those responsible also facing potential jail terms.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:17 am

    Maybe you don’t need more foreign teachers, after all, your English is the best in south-east Asia.

    However, assuming you do, you must streamline your red tape. I am a teacher with full work permit and non-immmigrant B visa and this is my fourth country so I have some comparative data on this subject. Work permits aside the immigration department is the big issue and for good overseas teachers to stay and commit long term to this country serious changes must occur in this area. Example, last week I left my classroom at 1130am after teaching to visit Chaeng Wattana where, the immigration department digigently and professionally looked at all my documentation again, the same documentation as last year and the year before, the same qualifications, same school, same address…

    I arrived home at 8pm and I am not kidding. What ever happened to Thailand 4.0?

    • Avatar


      Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 1:27 pm


      You nailed it seems the Kingdom and especially this government doesn’t want foreign investment or collaborative sharing of knowledge

      It a shame as Thailand education system falls further & further behind

      Innovation & coding & others

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      They were looking for some discrepancy so you would bribe them.
      Why else would they work so long at their examination?
      Did the Baht signs turn to tears in their eyes when they found nothing?

    • Avatar


      Friday, February 19, 2021 at 12:19 am

      Thailand the best English in SE-Asia?
      What about the Philippines? Singapore?

      • Avatar


        Friday, February 19, 2021 at 9:17 am

        Wake up, mate. 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    Agreed 100%, David, although I hasten to add that I’m not a teacher, but I think the problem’s far more than immigration “red tape” putting off “good overseas teachers”.

    Qualifications aren’t everything (although they should ensure at least a minimum standard), but the whole system appears flawed.

    “Native English speakers” are prioritised, but completely illogically – I’ve known “native English speakers” who were French Canadians whose English was so heavily accented it was barely understandable let alone colloquial.

    Any “degree” is acceptable as a “qualification”, from photography to PE, however irrelevant to the subject taught and regardless of teaching experience or ability.

    Salaries are way below the standard even in the rest of Asean, particularly in the public sector, attracting either begpackers or the highly motivated but little in-between.

    I’d suggest the whole system of “overseas teachers” needs completely re-structuring, and the “immigration red tape” is only part of the problem, so that while “streamlining” it will make your life easier it won’t improve the standard of English (or teaching) unless the other issues are addressed as well.

  3. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    I read a while back that the govt wants to employ 10,000 more teachers. Something tells me they need to dangle a few more carrots…..

  4. Avatar

    Francis A

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    So your chasing out the white immigrants that bring useful skills to the Thai people. Put give 600000 immigrants that illegally crossed the border and takes Thai jobs free 2 year visa and healthcare. Seams fair, or…

  5. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    It all depends on what they want.

    One at the school in the nearest town, maybe five or six years ago, came from somewhere in central Africa and thought that the kids calling her “ma dam” were being polite.

    I was told she was paid something like 4,000 baht a month plus free food and accommodation.


    • Avatar

      James R

      Friday, February 19, 2021 at 4:20 am

      Issan John

      I see, they were calling her a black dog?

      They use other slang too as in 555 (ha ha ha) which of course is funny.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, February 19, 2021 at 1:53 am

    The Thai’s have made a decision to put people in jobs that aren’t productive to keep their unemployment very low. Government employment creating mind numbing bureaucracy is an example of that.

    Western society has increased their productivity through the use of technology along with streamlined procedures. If Thailand utilized both of these strategies they could increase the standard of living in their country. The excess labor could be used in manufacturing or other economically beneficial activities.

    An example is the process to enter Thailand today. You have to submit your paperwork online to start the visa process and then send in the same documents to their consulate as a hard copy. To get your COE, which is a separate process, you have to submit your visa, travel, ASQ and insurance documents again on-line. Upon arrival you have to have all the hard copies and they’re checked at least 4 or 5 times before you leave the airport. Then you have to show most of this to the hotel staff upon check in. Maddening and a lot of wasted energy to do the same thing over and over on both sides.

  7. Avatar

    James R

    Friday, February 19, 2021 at 4:26 am

    I knew a chap a few years ago who did a six weeks English teacher course in Thailand, is is called TEFL or something similar?

    He didn’t have a degree but the school downloaded a forged certificate from the internet for him and he was then teaching English to hotel staff legally.

    He said he was paid 30,000 baht a month, this was fifteen years ago so it was enough for a working holiday.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, February 19, 2021 at 9:45 am

      Not uncommon, James R, and around 30,000 is / was the going rate.

      I recall one of the reports here on a teacher arrested for alleged drugs offences who had been on holiday then stuck here with Covid so she’d done a TOEFL course to get qualified then legally got a teaching post at a junior school.

      All above board, but IIRC she was only 20 so since she’d been travelling in Asia for a year she must have done her university degree studies when unusually young.

      Not only in Thailand – I know one English teacher who’s been teaching in the UK and Europe for forty years, including at schools and universities, as a linguistics professor with a doctorate from Cambridge, whose only genuine qualification is a TOEFL certificate.

      That doesn’t make them bad teachers – they may be excellent, better than the genuine article – but it does make the system a bit of a farce.

      • Avatar

        James R

        Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 3:35 am

        Issan John

        Yes I see now thinking about it re not checking peoples qualifications.

        I did a masters degree in software engineering at Oxford, I told them of my qualifications in order to do the course but they never checked them.

        On software engineering contracts around Europe and the USA over decades whenever I applied and was given the contract not one of them ever check my qualifications. (The proof was in the fact I could do the work but no qualification checks).

        So I suppose some people take advantage of that.

        I suppose the extreme example is the chap in “Catch Me If You Can”, based on a true story.

  8. Avatar


    Monday, March 8, 2021 at 5:54 am

    Must be a bunch of idiots here. The reason they have this law is because few years ago they caught an English teacher who was a pedophile. He was wanted in the US. Talking about bureaucracy ask a Thai girl to apply for a British visa. Even if she had tons of money and a house here she will still be grilled for a couple of hours in an interview by the British embassy. Where else a homeless Briti can just buy a ticket here and fly to thailand. A foreigner can there passport and rent a house here. In Europe you need tons of paper. Proof that you are paying tax etc. so that’s 555 in Thai

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