Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the Education Visa for foreigners in Thailand. Over the last year or so there have been several new changes to the ED Visa rules and procedures which has caused a lot of headaches to many people. In the past one could quite easily get an Education Visa in Thailand and stay for several years without leaving the country. This was great for the individual that really wanted to learn the language and culture of this wonderful country. However, the ED Visa system soon started to be taken advantage of. Many foreigners started using the ED Visa so they could stay long term in Thailand but they never actually went to class. They would pay for the year and get their Visa Stamp and never look back.

In fact many schools started to actually just focus on the visa and not the actually teaching of the language. I often saw signs in front of schools stating you can stay for 10 years in Thailand in big bold letters then in little small print at the bottom it would state learn Thai. It got so corrupt that you could go to almost any visa agency and pay a little extra and they do all the paperwork, all your check ins at immigration and basically pretend you were going to school when you really were not. I presume the extra fees would be going to the school, the visa company and the contact at immigration.

Over the last year there has been a lot of changes to all the visas as the people that are now in power wanted to start weeding out the foreigners that are living and working here under an improper visa. The first crackdown was on tourist visas, as they started to now allow people to enter the country if you had pages and pages of tourist visas and exemptions. This in turn made a lot of the long term tourist visa people jump on the ED Visa train in order to stay in the country. It was then I new that the ED visa would be under close watch and I was sure that changes were to come.

This year those changes to the ED Visa came into effect. The biggest changes so far with the ED Visa this year are as follows:

1. You can no longer stay for more then a year on an ED Visa without leaving the country.
2. In fact there is now talks that is will only be 6 months and then you have to leave the country.
3. 4 hours a week of study has now changed to 8 hours a week
4. There might be more of a chance testing of your language skills at immigration and borders
5. Immigration spot checks at your school to make sure you are going
6. Cancellation letter of your school before you are allowed to apply to another school.

These are just a few of the new rules that are in effect and perhaps more to come. It is quite obvious that these rules are to deter those that are using ED Visa for other purposes other then actually going to school. For instance, the school moving to 4 days and 8 hours a week was no doubt used to frustrate those working in Thailand illegally. It would be hard to have a full time job and leave it for 2 hours, 4 times a week for many people. Also, there has been people that have been on the ED visa for years and can barely make a Thai sentence or read a word. It is quite obvious that these people are taking advantage of the system.

I totally understand the need to clean up the ED Visa system and in fact I am glad to see it. However, the frustrating part is the people like myself that are actually going to school and have an actual interest in learning the language. The problem with many of these rules and changes is they come out of the blue and often effect your present visa even if the rule came after you got your visa.

For instance I signed up for a year course at 4 hours a week, but a new rule came out later on and now I have to go 8 hours a week. Learning Thai 8 hours a week is just fine by me but I was going to a personal tutor besides my school. I had to stop going to him in order to keep my attendance record up at school which results in loss of work for that teacher and to be honest I was learning a bit more one on one. Sure I could have kept him but now we are talking about 14 hours a week and that does not include homework.

I am close to 40 years old now and though I enjoy going to school I did not want to make it a full time thing in Thailand. Also, with the new rules you always have this uncertainty about if your visa will be renewed every 90 days.

What if a new rule comes into effect that effects your visa?

What if you are having a bad day understanding the language and you fail the language test at immigration?

What if the officer is having a bad day and gives you hard language questions?

What if the officer speaks to fast or has a strong dialect you are not familiar with?

All these reasons make me feel that the ED Visa is a very unstable visa right now. I have never been so stressed out at immigration and I actually go to school. This will probably be my last year on ED Visa and I will start to look at other options. If I manage to stay in Thailand on another Visa I will still go to school as I enjoy it, but hopefully something that will give me more peace of mind.

With all these changes I have no idea what the future of the Education Visa will be in Thailand but I think it will end up being more difficult to get and maintain if changes like this year continue into 2015.

3 comments on “What is the Future of the Education Visa in Thailand?

  1. We cannot summarize the situation of ED Visa better like you did. The new rules just came now in the Chon Buri immigration, and the also talk to change the extension of 1900 THB to 5000 THB. I seriously consider to stop to live in Thailand next year. What else to do ? They only want short time tourists they don’t understand people and culture (who clearly bored thai people you can see everyday in the street, 7/11, taxi…)… they will have it !

    • LearningThai on said:

      yes I heard about the Chon Buri changes, they now got the 8 hours a week as well and
      this 1900 to 5000baht is a weird rule
      1. I heard plan A was you pay 1900 and get 15 days, and in those 15 days an immigration officer will spot check to see if you go to school, if you dont you get a cancel visa, if you do you can go back and apply for 75 days
      2. Plan b is you pay 5000 baht and no questions at all and get the 90 days

      plus now I am seeing in BAngkok lots of people getting 2 week extensions, 1 month, 2 months and 3 months with no real reason
      its becoming a complete mess

      Other options well there are of course tourist visas, investor visas, retirement for those that are old enough, marriage
      and of course the expensive Elite Visa, but if you are not married or not retired the tourist and investors you are kind of playing the system, the elite is actually not a bad way to go but dropping 500 000 baht for a no hassle 5 year visa might be too much money to drop and of course I suppose there is always the chance that visa will change rules as well

      I am really not sure what the reasons on such madness on the ED Visas, certainly for the guys and gals that really do want to learn the language while spending time in Thailand, it is not easy anymore

  2. Thanks for your reply. I agree with all of that, particularly the rule of 15 days or 5000 THB. Good luck.

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