Work permit rules tightened

PHUKET: Changes to the criteria for granting work permits were quietly introduced in Phuket on October 8, tightening many of the rules, closing some loopholes and clarifying some gray areas.

Labor Department offices around the country received the new rules in an order dated September 30 and signed by the Director General of the Department of Employment, Juthathawat Intharasuksri.

The main points of the new regulations are as follows:

Aliens working for Thai-registered companies must now present paperwork showing that the company has paid-up capital of at least 2 million baht for every work permit applied for.

Foreign employees of companies registered outside Thailand must show the company has invested in Thailand the foreign-currency equivalent of 3 million baht for every work permit applied for.

In the case of foreign companies that have had operations in Thailand since before October 30, 2002, and are unable show the size of the investment brought into Thailand, bank statements for the previous six months showing deposits of at least 3 million baht may be used to support applications, at a rate of one alien for every 3 million baht in the bank.

In the case of aliens who are married to Thais, the minimum financial requirements above are halved.

Companies may not employ more than 10 aliens except in the following cases:

The company has paid “income tax” in the previous year of at least 3 million baht;

The company is engaged in exporting and has brought into Thailand the foreign currency equivalent of at least 30 million baht in the previous year;

The company is in the travel business and has brought at least 5,000 foreigners into Thailand in the previous year;

The company employs more than 100 Thais;

The company brings in technology not currently available in Thailand, provided that the technology is transfered to at least two Thai people within a fixed period;

The company brings in aliens with specific skills to perform a specific task within a fixed period;

The company hires aliens in the entertainment field for a fixed period.

Companies opening representative offices in Thailand to promote or sell their products may employ no more than two aliens. Companies opening representative offices to source Thai goods for export may employ no more than five aliens unless the value of goods bought in the previous year exceeded 100 million baht.

The new rules also allow “natural persons” – not companies – to employ foreigners, according to the following criteria:

A person may apply for work permits for up to three aliens provided he can show that he has earned income in the previous year or current year of at least 700,000 baht per alien. In the case of aliens married to Thais the figure is 350,000 baht per person.

A person may apply for work permits for up to three aliens provided he can show that he has paid income tax in the previous year of at least 50,000 baht per alien.

A person who employs four or more Thais may apply for a work permit for one alien for every four Thais employed, up to a maximum of three aliens.

Specific conditions apply for aliens wishing to work in financial institutions, for national or local government or other state organs, for registered charities, for regional advisory or training offices of foreign companies, or for law firms.

Khitti Nuisri, the Deputy Chief of the Phuket Provincial Employment Service Office, said that applications under the new rules would probably take “a little bit longer” to process.

Before the introduction of the new criteria, new work permit applications in Phuket were taking two months or longer to process.

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