Living and Working in Thailand as Foreign Entrepreneur
A foreigner who desires to make Thailand his or her home, but who may not be married to a Thai spouse or have a job offer from a Thai company, might consider starting a business enterprise in order to stay in the country. The idea is particularly attractive because, with a company in Thailand, one can be one’s own boss and can sponsor one’s own long-term visa extension and work permit. However, due to the strictness and complexity of Thai immigration law, it is recommended that any foreign entrepreneur interested in taking this route seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
Generally speaking, the Thai Bureau of Immigration is required to examine several documents and pieces of evidence to ensure that a Thai company sponsoring a one-year visa extension for any foreigner be a legitimate and ongoing business. Furthermore, any foreigner wishing to work or do business in Thailand must initially enter the country with a 90-day Thailand business visa. The Thai Embassy or Consulate which sponsors the initial business visa also requires to inspect a similar amount of evidence from the Thai company which sponsors the visa (presumably it will be the company which will hire the foreigner, but not necessarily). Even if investment promotion laws are taken into consideration, Thai immigration law does not have any type of visa category meant particularly for a foreign entrepreneur who will be setting up his or her own company with a modest amount of capital investment. Therefore, entering Thailand and remaining in the country in order to start and operate one’s own business requires a degree of planning and strategy.
If a foreigner were to use the services of a law firm or visa services firm to sponsor one’s initial business visa to enter Thailand, it will automatically start a 90 day time period in which the foreigner’s newly set up company must compile the necessary evidence in order to extend that initial business visa. Generally, the company should compile at least three months worth of evidence, including financial balance sheets, Social Security fee payments for four Thai employees (per every one foreign employee), and employee withholding tax filings (which is particularly important in order to show that the foreign employee is being paid the salary level which Thai Immigration prescribes for his or her nationality). In light of these requirements, it is recommended for any foreign entrepreneur coming to Thailand to plan in advance and hit the ground running.
Finally, it should be mentioned that a foreign businessperson who is establishing a Representative Office or Branch Office in Thailand on behalf of an international company is specifically exempted by Thai Immigration rules and regulations from several of the above-mentioned requirements and may obtain a long-term visa extension much easier. However, in this case, the international company which is sponsoring the visa extension must have first obtained a Foreign Business License from the Thai government beforehand.
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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.