GPS Legal offers an overview on how you can live and study in Thailand through an education visa.
Thailand is a fantastic holiday spot, a burgeoning economy to do business in, and, yes, an excellent education destination. There are many institutions that offer international-standard programmes across the Kingdom, from university degrees to subject-specific certifications, which are also authorised to sponsor education visas. So, as long as both the institution and you meet the necessary requirements, you can hold an education visa that enables you to study in Thailand and allows you to enjoy life in the Land of Smiles while advancing your qualifications and career!
<h4″>First, you’ll need a 90-day ED visa (Education Visa)
First and foremost, make sure that the institution you are interested in attending is licensed by Thailand’s Ministry of Education! Without this license, you will not qualify for an education visa. Also, be sure that your course of study meets the time requirement (typically, 15 hours of attendance a week).
If you are already residing in Thailand when you decide to pursue an education programme here, you will likely have to leave the country for a few days since ED visas are granted by Thai embassies and consulates. There are instances where the Immigration Department in Thailand will convert a non-immigrant visa in country, but, more often than not, and definitely in the case of tourist visas, you’ll have to submit your application outside of Thailand.
When you submit your application to study, there are some documents that you’ll need:
1. Your passport (with a minimum six months’ validity remaining, but to avoid having any issues, you should make sure it’s valid for at least two years from your arrival date).
2. Completed application (available from most Thai embassy websites).
3. Recent passport picture.
4. Letter of acceptance from the educational institution.
5. Letter from the applicant to the embassy or consulate confirming the stay in Thailand is for educational purposes.
6. Authorised copy of the institution’s Ministry of Education certification.
Depending on the embassy or consulate where you are applying, there may be other document requirements, such as a notarised copy of your birth certificate or inbound/outbound flight information – double-check with the embassy or consulate in question to ensure you meet all their supporting documentation criteria.
Then, get your ED visa extended while in Thailand
Once in Thailand and you’ve begun your studies, you can apply to extend your ED visa in 90-day increments for up to one year. Why only 90 days at a time? Firstly, because you are required to report in order not to overstay your visa, and secondly, the government checks to ensure you have been attending class.
Due to past abuses by otherwise “non-students” of this visa type, the authorities now make sure that the visa is in fact being used for education, so when you go to apply for the extension, you’ll have to provide proof of attendance, syllabi, and transcripts. Any school that sponsors foreign students will know of these requirements and provide them to you when you need them.
At the end of the year, repeat the process
For curriculums that last longer than a year, you may have to repeat this whole process at the end of the year, starting with applying from overseas.
*Please note that this article focuses on studying at language, vocational, and other non-formal educational institutions that are properly licensed. This article does not cover formal primary, secondary, or university institutions that accept international students.
If you are serious about your studies and want to spend time in Thailand, then an ED visa is a perfect way to do both. As mentioned above, most schools should have mechanisms in place to provide you with the necessary documents and guidance to obtain and extend an ED visa, sometimes offering an additional service to help expedite application. But if you aren’t certain about an institution’s qualifications or have questions about the process, contact a trusted legal professional like GPS Legal for clarification.