60 day tourist visa?

I telephoned the Thai Embassy in Los Angeles, California, and spoke with them about visas. They assured me that there is no such thing as a 90-day non-immigrant visa, and told me that what I was after was a 60-day tourist visa that could be extended three times for a total of six months. After that I would have to leave Thailand. My ultimate goal is to eventually apply for a permanent resident permit and work for a local wireless Internet company in Phuket. But I guess I must take things one step at a time, but I would like to get started as soon as possible. Could you suggest which visa I should obtain first, and then explain the next step of applying for a one-year non-immigrant visa after I arrive in Thailand? That would be most helpful. I have a feeling that perhaps the personnel in Los Angeles are new or still learning their jobs.

John Michael Kiser, GCI Network Solutions, Alaska.

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You can enter Thailand two ways: 1. With a tourist visa issued by a Thai consulate. This will allow you to stay in Thailand for 60 days. Do not enter Thailand on a 30-day transit visa issued on arrival. Once you are here you can begin the process of obtaining a permit to stay in Thailand at the Immigration Office. If you cannot complete the process within 60 days, you can return to Thailand whenever you like until you get your permit to stay. 2. You can arrive on a non-immigrant B visa (“B” for business reason) obtained from a Thai consulate. To get a non-immigrant B visa, you will need to prove to the consulate staff that you are going to work in Thailand, by showing them a letter from a company in Thailand stating that it plans to hire you, along with the company’s registration documents and other personal documents or, if you are buying a business, the registration papers of the company you plan to buy. The consulate will not issue a non-immigrant B visa without evidence that you are to be employed or that you really want to have a business. The type of visa the consulate will issue you will depend on the supporting documents you provide. For example, if you just wanted to stay for a while to check out investment possibilities or research how to open a new business, you should explain all this to the consulate and provide as much supporting documentation as possible. If the consulate does not have enough information, they cannot determine what kind of visa to issue to you. Similarly, if we at Immigration don’t have enough information, it is difficult for us to issue a permit to stay. Once you arrive in Thailand with a non-immigrant B visa, Immigration at the airport will consider how many days you can stay in Thailand. Normally it is 90 days, but in some cases it can be less, or more. At the end of that period, and assuming you have a multiple-entry visa, you must leave Thailand, then return and repeat the process. If, during the 90 days, you can organize the work permit, company registration or whatever you need in order to work or do business in Thailand, then you will be able to apply at the Immigration Office for an extension of permit of stay (provided that you qualify for an extension). As for permanent resident status, this is difficult to get and takes years.

Pol Capt Krissarat Nuesen, Deputy Superintendent of Phuket Provincial Immigration Office.

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