Digital nomads – people working remotely or running online businesses – in Thailand can legally work there on tourist visas, said immigration officials in Chiang Mai. CityNews Chiang Mai reported that immigration officials addressed the digital nomad question at a seminar this week, following a recent visa crackdown that raised questions about the future of online entrepreneurs living and working in Thailand. Generally speaking, to work in Thailand, foreigners should hold non-immigrant B visas and must obtain work permits from their employers. However, the increasing number of people working online does not fit into any neat visa category.
Rumors of people with multiple tourist visas and exit-entry stamps being denied at the borders and of crackdowns on foreigners working on tourist visas created uncertainty in the late spring and early summer. Immigration has sought to clarify visa regulations and who exactly the crackdown will affect. At the Chiang Mai seminar, Chiang Mai Immigration Superintendent Pol. Col. Rutphong Sanwanangkun spoke alongside two other officials and affirmed that all current visas will be considered valid, according to CityNews.
The officials said tourist visas would be accepted for the number of times specified on their visas and that there are no limits on the number of tourist visas foreigners can apply for. Visa runs (leaving the country and reentering shortly after) are no longer much of an option, and CityNews wrote, “It is unlikely that travellers will be granted a re-entry stamp after two or three visa runs. If your passport is stamped “O-I” (out-in) upon arrival, it is unlikely that you will be able to re-enter the country again should you decide to do a visa run.”
The crackdown still may have a major impact for foreign English teachers. As Asian Correspondent reported last month, many teachers working at small or understaffed schools work on tourist visas because their schools cannot or will not assist them in getting the proper visa and work permit. Because immigration officials will be more closely scrutinizing those reentering the country with multiple tourist visas and visa exemption stamps, teachers could face challenges continuing to work in Thailand.
To learn more about changes and what officials had to say about the various types of visas foreigners can hold, see CityNews’ site.