Another option for all age groups, to stay in Thailand for at least one year and without having to make visa runs, is the Non-Immigrant ED Visa (Education Visa).
Prerequisite for such a visa, is the application for a course at an accredited school in Thailand. In most cases, this will be language courses, where you can learn the Thai language.
The TLS or CTLS Language School for instance, offer Thai language courses, English courses and also courses in Thai culture and ethics to choose from.
It is not really a cheap venture to stay in Thailand on an ED Visa: A 200-hour course for Thai, for instance, costs already 28,000, – baht in fees an on top of that, you have to pay 1900, – Baht every 3 months (90 days) for the extension of the ED visa. But you don’t have to make a Visa Run to extend this visa, usually the school will do this service for you.
In theory, one can apply for this visa even from your home country, by doing all the registration procedure with the school over the internet but I think it’s easier to do it all from Thailand.
Here, the individual steps in an overview:
- Contact the school, choose a course and register
- Deposit 50% of the school fees and levy a copy of your passport and 12 (!) ID photos.
- The school will then forward your application for the ED visa to the Education Ministry, which takes a few days or weeks to complete.
- After the application is approved and sent back to the school, you’ll have to travel with all this paperwork to the next available Thai consulate or embassy abroad, to apply for a Non Immigrant ED Visa. It will be issued usually within 24 hours, just like any other Non Immigrant Visa. (not on weekends of course)
- With the new visa in your passport, you can re enter Thailand and at the border you will be granted the usual 90 days allowance.
- Just before the 90 days are expired, you’ll have to extent your stay at the nearest Immigration Office for 1900,- Baht
Other advantages of the ED Visa is, that you can use it to make a Thai driver license, open a bank account and get a Thai health insurance. From the school, you’ll also get a student ID, which gives you other great discounts i.e. in National parks where you now enter as a “Thai” for 40 Baht instead of 400 Baht for foreign tourists.
The schools will usually help you with all the paperwork but you also have to attend the courses, of course. Language course usually run on two days a week for two hours each session.
Here are some schools, where you may register:
- TLS Language School Bangkok & Pattaya
- Easy ABC Language & Culinary School (South Pattaya & Nakula)
- Phuket – BKK language School (Phuket)
Please don’t send me any emails on this topic but contact the schools directly instead. Thank you.