Thailand is one of the leading tourist destination of the world. Most visitors come to Thailand to visit beaches, temples, and resorts. However a growing segment of tourist want more from their vacation. They want to immerse themselves in local life.
Volunteer holidays is a new industry in Thailand. Visitors can spend a few weeks to a couple of months volunteering in an impoverish rural community to build housing, teach rural children English, or even take care of elephants or other wildlife.
For visitors from first world mega cities, this is a way for them to experience a different way of life.
However, visitors cannot come to Thailand and just start working. The Thai government requires the visitor to obtain a non-immigrant “O” visa and a work permit. Some private tour companies may assist the visitor with the process of obtaining the proper visa and work permit.
The process starts at the visitor’s local Thai consulate or embassy in their home country. The visitor must submit a completed visa application with their original passport, a letter from the organization confirming that the visitor will be volunteering, copy of the registration certificate for the foundation or organization, and evidence of 20,000 baht in funds. The documents need to be submitted with the visa fee and a two recent passport photos.
The consular officer may request additional documents which they deem necessary to evaluate the application. If approved, the visitor will be issued a three month visa to enter Thailand for a maximum period of 90 days. After entry into Thailand, the visitor can file for an extension of their stay beyond the initial authorized period of stay.
The next step is for the volunteer to obtain a work permit. Established organizations and foundations should have no difficulty in assisting the volunteer to obtain a work permit. Established organizations and foundations should have the proper documents prepared and ready for the volunteer.
There are many organizations, charities, and foundations on the internet who cater to tourist volunteers. They provide a wide range of experiences for their volunteers. Some organizations are profit making entities that target tourist who want to immerse themselves in Thai life. Some organizations are purely charitable organizations who run on donations and need volunteers. It is important to research these organizations beyond their self-promoting websites.
Volunteers should review forums and discuss their choice of locations with knowledgeable people. Everyone should tailor their time to ensure that they get the experience that they want. Thai people are generally helpful people. When a visitor volunteers, it is important to remember that they are also representing their country and other volunteers. When the volunteer is teaching children, building a community center, or caring for elephants, they are representing the best of themselves.
The information contained in this article is general in nature. It does not constitute legal advice for any specific person or situation. If there are any legal topics that a reader would like covered, please send me an email at email@example.com.
Our licensed Thai lawyers at Siam Legal International in Bangkok have valuable knowledge in dealing with government agencies in Thailand, and this experience is of great importance when dealing with Thai legal cases and investigative service.