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Year Volunteering/traveling In Thailand- Visa 'o'?


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Hi,

I'm a recent college graduate (22 with US citizenship) looking into volunteering/traveling for a year in Thailand, and I was hoping you could offer some visa advice. First off, do you know if volunteering would be a means to a "non-immigrant category O" visa? And if so, it seems that it wouldn't last for more than 90 days- so how much of a hassle is getting visa-extensions? is it uncommon for extension requests to be rejected? and are extensions good for another 90 days? From the Thai consulate site, it seems that I would only need a letter of invitation and some type of business registration document from the volunteer organization- has anyone had experience with this, and maybe can elaborate?

Any advice would appreciated. Also, any recommendations for volunteer organizations would be helpful too.

I appreciate it

cheers,

-Josh

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It is possible to get a non immigrant O visa for volunteering with the proper documentation you mentioned, It might even be possible to get a multiple entry visa that would allow you to enter and stay for 90 days each entry for 1 year. After each of those 90 days you would have to leave and re-enter the country to get another 90 days.

To get an extension of stay you would need a work permit. To get a work permit would require documentation from an organization here.

I can't help with a list of oranganizations that would sponser you. But perhaps others can,

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Thanks, that's definitely good to know- I hadn't planned on applying for a work permit. I appreciate the advice on the multiple entry visa- doing a visa run every 90 days doesn't sound too inconvenient (especially compared to the 15 day intervals of the tourist visa). In the case of the work permit, do you apply to work at a specific organization, and would therefore need to re-apply to switch employers? I had planned on moving around during my time in Thailand, so I would possibly be volunteering with more than one organization...

thanks

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The work permit is for one empolyer at one specific location, If you kept the same empoyer it would have to be changed if you moved to a new location. Changing employers requires a new work permit.

If on a one year extension if the job ends the extension ends and you have to leave the country. Unless you have a new work permit from a new employer before the previous job ends.

The 15 days is not tourist visa it's a visa exempt entry and is 30 days if you fly in 15 by land.

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Thanks- I just came across work permit info elsewhere on the forum, so sorry about bothering you to repeat that. But one thing I'm still unclear on- from the DC Thai Embassy site, it appears I don't need a work permit for the non-immigrant O visa, but rather I would apply for one after arriving in Thailand. But suppose one arrives in Thailand and is denied the work permit or doesn't even apply for one- is that non-immigrant O visa still valid? Also, I'm under the impression that if the work only lasts 30 days and I have a 90-day, non-imm, O visa and work permit, the visa would expire with the end of the employment (after 30 days rather than the 90)- is that how it works?

I appreciate the replies. i had envisioned traveling and volunteering intermittently throughout my year in Thailand, and so at this point I'm trying to decide whether the tourist visa or non-imm O visa would make more sense (If volunteering lands me in a Thai prison, I'm afraid it would really scar my philanthropic outlook on humanity...)

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You don't need a work permit to get the visa. If you are on an entry from a visa your permit to stay would not end when your work permit ends. That only applies if you were to get an extension of stay obtained at immigration here that was based upon having a job and work permit..

After you are in the country you are not on a visa you are on a permit to stay that was granted on entry allowed by a visa.

For your plans the best thing to do is find a sponser here that will give you a letter stating you will be working with them. Then apply for a multiple entry visa at a Honorary Thai consulate. The 4 official consulates probably would not give you a multiple entry visa. For a list of these consulates use the pulldown menu at the top of this page from the DC embassy website. http://www.thaiembdc.org/AboutEmb/EmbDirect.aspx

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It is possible to get a non immigrant O visa for volunteering with the proper documentation you mentioned, It might even be possible to get a multiple entry visa that would allow you to enter and stay for 90 days each entry for 1 year. After each of those 90 days you would have to leave and re-enter the country to get another 90 days.

To get an extension of stay you would need a work permit. To get a work permit would require documentation from an organization here.

I can't help with a list of oranganizations that would sponser you. But perhaps others can,

take a look there Greenwaythailand.org , i had a 1 year o visa in 2004 (in my country), as volunteer (no work permit needed) , that make 15 month at all, of course you must exit each 3 month, you must be sponsorised with the organisation and work for them. you are not pay and you need to pay your expenses ( fee for room and meal, but not to expensive, in 2004 was 20.000 bath for 3 month long term volunteer). in fact i stay only 3 month with this organisation (was plan 1 year) but then my visa continue to run 1 year.

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It is possible to get a non immigrant O visa for volunteering with the proper documentation you mentioned, It might even be possible to get a multiple entry visa that would allow you to enter and stay for 90 days each entry for 1 year. After each of those 90 days you would have to leave and re-enter the country to get another 90 days.

To get an extension of stay you would need a work permit. To get a work permit would require documentation from an organization here.

I can't help with a list of oranganizations that would sponser you. But perhaps others can,

take a look there Greenwaythailand.org , i had a 1 year o visa in 2004 (in my country), as volunteer (no work permit needed) , that make 15 month at all, of course you must exit each 3 month, you must be sponsorised with the organisation and work for them. you are not pay and you need to pay your expenses ( fee for room and meal, but not to expensive, in 2004 was 20.000 bath for 3 month long term volunteer). in fact i stay only 3 month with this organisation (was plan 1 year) but then my visa continue to run 1 year.

Cool- that sounds like the way to go, I'll definitely checkout the greenway organization. Thanks for the advice

Just be sure that you realize that ANY work... volunteer or paid... for Greenway or any other organization... a Work Permit IS required to be legal.

There is NO such thing as...

(no work permit needed)

You can work without one, but you WON'T be legal.

Edited by sriracha john
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Hi,

I'm a recent college graduate (22 with US citizenship) looking into volunteering/traveling for a year in Thailand, and I was hoping you could offer some visa advice. First off, do you know if volunteering would be a means to a "non-immigrant category O" visa? And if so, it seems that it wouldn't last for more than 90 days- so how much of a hassle is getting visa-extensions? is it uncommon for extension requests to be rejected? and are extensions good for another 90 days? From the Thai consulate site, it seems that I would only need a letter of invitation and some type of business registration document from the volunteer organization- has anyone had experience with this, and maybe can elaborate?

Any advice would appreciated. Also, any recommendations for volunteer organizations would be helpful too.

I appreciate it

cheers,

-Josh

I have found that "volunteering" in the sense of the word is not the same type of volunteering you may think of from your homeland.In all the schemes i have looked at here you will pay US$2-3000 to placed in a role that may last for two or three months tops.

I am told that this is the means whereby these places are funded for the works to be co-ordinated and the costs therein..so in actual fact it seems that all you are actually volunteering is your financial help.

I have no probs with a fee or to help financially in some way but am very reluctant to trust a firm that charged these amounts and wondered would these funds ever help anyone in need or would they be swallowed up in admin..or in some one elses already half-full pockets..i noticed most companies organizing these things are off-shore to by the way.

On the other hand if you are a professional with university degree, ect engineer or something like that it may be possible to land something that will land a job that provides a visa but in a humanitarian sense i have not been able to find anything i can contribute to without a largish personal outlay

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Hi,

I've been following up on the advice from an earlier thread (thanks again for the replies) and I'm trying to apply for a Non-Imm O Visa via volunteering with a Thai "social welfare" program (I'm a U.S. citizen, 22). Two of the documents requested on the Thai DC Embassy site included a 'Letter of Invitation' and the Business Registration/ID of the Thai organization. But I have a few questions about this, and I've been having trouble finding more details on the Embassy sites...So does anyone happen to know...

-Exactly what information needs to be in the 'Letter of Invitation'? ( I imagine my purpose and length of stay needs to be addressed, but I just want to make sure I'm not leaving out any info...)

-Do faxed copies of these documents suffice? (I would imagine that the Business Registration would have to be a copy, unless Thai companies have a bunch of these...)

Today I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to get authoratative info from any of the Thai embassies, so I'm hoping someone in this forum might be able to offer some quick answers in the mean time.

I'm fortunate enough to have some connections in Thailand who are helping me work out the logistics of volunteering and traveling there for a year- I just want to make sure that I'm giving them the right info about what documents I would need...

Thanks,

Josh

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Hi,

I've been following up on the advice from an earlier thread (thanks again for the replies) and I'm trying to apply for a Non-Imm O Visa via volunteering with a Thai "social welfare" program (I'm a U.S. citizen, 22). Two of the documents requested on the Thai DC Embassy site included a 'Letter of Invitation' and the Business Registration/ID of the Thai organization. But I have a few questions about this, and I've been having trouble finding more details on the Embassy sites...So does anyone happen to know...

-Exactly what information needs to be in the 'Letter of Invitation'? ( I imagine my purpose and length of stay needs to be addressed, but I just want to make sure I'm not leaving out any info...)

-Do faxed copies of these documents suffice? (I would imagine that the Business Registration would have to be a copy, unless Thai companies have a bunch of these...)

..........

Thanks,

Josh

The DC embassy has a bit of a reputation, it might be better to apply at one of the consulates, which are generaly speaking friendlier then embassies.

As to your question, normaly a letter of invitation is just that. An invitation of the organisation you are going to volunteer for. Have them state your name and passport number in their letter and how long you will be volunteering. You will need an original letter with letter head.

The business registration/ID is meant to check that the organisation you will be volunteering for is a registered charity.

Note that even volunteerwork requires a work permit. Make sure the orginasation you will be working for arranges the WP. If they apply for a WP you will be able to get yearly extensions of your permission to stay in the country.

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Did you talk to one of the honorary consulates or one the 3 official consulates.

I think when it comes time to get the visa you will stand a better chance of getting the multiple entry at an honorary consulate.

Also if you have trouble finding your previous topics or posts click my assistant at the top of the page and then my last ten posts.

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Thanks for the link- that Letter of Invitation template was definitely helpful. one question though, that sample letter, which is intended for a Non-imm Business Visa (rather than non-imm O), emphasizes that the company must explicitly "guarantee financial support for the applicant"- that would be omitted in the letter from a volunteer organization, right? I imagine that any volunteer group would be hesitant to sign by that statement, considering the unpaid nature of volunteering...but the rest of the sample letter was really helpful in showing what I would need from the Thai organizations- I just want to verify that having the Thai organization "guarantee financial support" wasn't important for the non-imm O visa

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The B visa invitation letter is probably not the best example to use. The organization you are going to be working with should know what is required to get your visa. Unless it is the first time they have done it. Then you should ask the consulate for a sample letter.

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Thanks for the link- that Letter of Invitation template was definitely helpful. one question though, that sample letter, which is intended for a Non-imm Business Visa (rather than non-imm O), emphasizes that the company must explicitly "guarantee financial support for the applicant"- that would be omitted in the letter from a volunteer organization, right? I imagine that any volunteer group would be hesitant to sign by that statement, considering the unpaid nature of volunteering...but the rest of the sample letter was really helpful in showing what I would need from the Thai organizations- I just want to verify that having the Thai organization "guarantee financial support" wasn't important for the non-imm O visa

Correct, the financial support guarantee is not necesarry. A simple letter stating your name, passport number and that you will do volunteer work for the organisation should be enough. Also have them state that they are a registered charity.

It was enough for me, but always remember that different embassies/consulates have different rules. In western countries they are more relaxed than in Asian countries. When in doubt, call them for their requirements.

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