A majority Thai-owned limited company is considered of Thai nationality, while a majority foreign-owned company is considered foreign. Foreigners and foreign companies are under the Foreign Business Act not allowed to operate businesses in Thailand unless a foreign business license has been granted. (See the Board of Investment here.)
To be able to legally work in Thailand the foreigner must have a valid visa and a work permit issued in his name. Secondly, foreigners are only allowed to perform work that does not violate the Alien Employment Act (i.e., not engage in work prohibited for foreigners). What the foreigner is allowed to do and where under his work permit is described in the work permit. For example, foreigners working for 2 different companies doing the same work, must have 2 work permits, one for each company.
The applicant of a work permit must be in the possession of a valid non-immigrant visa at the time they of processing the work permit application, however it is possible to start a work permit application for the purpose of obtaining a Non-Immigrant class B (business) visa (i.e. some embassies around Thailand require a valid work permit or a work permit application form (WP 2) as one of the conditions for issuing a non-immigrant class B (business) visa).
There are a number of grounds upon which a work permit can be granted (this is in a discretionary basis will take into account usual considerations such as suitability and qualifications of the foreigner for the position). The permit may be granted to a foreigner who is employed in Thailand and; The company (employer) must have a fully paid-up registered capital of 2 million Baht to hire one foreigner, plus one person for every additional 2 million Baht (to a maximum of 10 people). If the registered capital of the company is less than 2 million the company can hire one foreigner if its total corporate income tax payment had been at least 5 million Baht for the past three years. The company can hire one foreigner for every 5 million Baht paid in tax. The employer has engaged in export which has brought into Thailand revenue of 3 million Baht in the previous fiscal year. The employer can hire one foreigner for every additional 3 million Baht up to a maximum of 3 people. The employer has at least 50 Thai employees per foreign employee up to a maximum of 5 foreign employees. A foreign employee must have paid personal income tax in the previous personal tax year (based on the minimum income requirement for his nationality) or if the foreign employee has not worked in Thailand previously, documents for potential employers confirming that, the foreign employee will obtain income in Thailand at lease in the amount of minimum income as specified based on the foreigners nationality. The Labour Department may also issue or renew work permits regardless of the above criteria when the foreign individual falls into one of the following categories: -employed as an international trade representative inspecting product quality, purchases or conducting market surveys -employed as an investment or management technology adviser or internal auditor -a tour representative bringing foreign tourists into Thailand -employed in an international financial institute endorsed by the Bank of Thailand -employed a non-profit organization on a temporary basis -employed as a contractor on projects for state agencies or public enterprises -employed in a business that mainly required the use of local raw materials -employed in the Thai export sector -employed in a business introducing and transferring technologies to Thailand -employed in a sector where qualified Thai employees cannot be found -married the cohabiting with a Thai national and has an honest employment. (Taken from Thailand Law Online here.) (Also see this SamuiforSale guide and this Board of Investment guide.) (See forms from the Board of Investment here.)
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