BANGKOK – Thailand’s Labour Ministry and the Immigration Bureau have launched the first smartphone app on allowing expats to lodge requests for work permits and have them approved, though applicants will still need to make at least two “offline” trips to specially set up centres to complete the procedure.
The app, Thailand Digital Work Permit, was introduced to companies and foreign employees on Friday.
The first person to be digitally granted a work permit was Japan’s Koichiro Suda. The permit was approved by Waranon Pitiwan, director-general of the Department of Employment (DOE).
Mr Suda works as a domestic sales coordinator for Minebea Thailand Co Ltd, one of the firms supported by the Office of the Board of Investment (BoI).
The app resulted from a project jointly launched by the BoI, the Labour Ministry and the Immigration Bureau called Single Window.
It is currently available for use by foreign employees of firms promoted by the BoI to bolster trade and investment in the country.
To register, foreign employees must first obtain a username and password at a work permit centre at the BoI’s branch at Chamchuri Square in Bangkok. They can then submit their request via the app.
After the request is approved, the employee must report again to the centre. Authorities will take their photo and acquire their digital signature, which takes only a few minutes, the centre claimed.
The app is available for both IOS and Android.
Mr Suda said the service made obtaining a work permit and visa more convenient.
Despite having to make two “offline” trips, Mr Waranon described the app as a “one stop service” that saves time and reduces paperwork.
Officials can check up on expat workers by scanning a QR code to verify their identity and other details courtesy of an online database.
Information can be updated more easily by phone, they added.
Foreign employees can access the app by verifying their identity with a user ID and password. Verification can also be done using fingerprint- or facial-recognition.
Mr Waranon said the app could be extended to include migrant workers from countries such as Myanmar next year.
Krongkanoke Managitjonggol, chief of the Single Window project, said more work permit offices will be set up in Chiang Mai and Phuket next year and in provinces where the BoI has branches.