Monday, April 20, 2009

THE JOURNAL OF AN ED-VISA APPLICANT

Here is a step by step account of exactly what is involved in applying for and acquiring an ED Visa for a typical student on the CTLS 200-hour Thai Language and Culture Course.

1. The first step involves discussing all the requirements with the Director of CTLS, so you know exactly what is involved.

At this stage, apart from initially registering at the school for the 200-hour Thai Language and Culture Course, you will be expected to pay 50% of the Bt28,000 course fees (Bt14,000) as deposit for the course. You will also be told the three main advantages of having an ED Visa, namely that you can apply:

a) for a Thai driving licence
b) for medical insurance
c) to open a Thai bank account.

Special privileges are available if students open an account with the branch of the Kasikorn Bank nearest to the school, including the granting of an ATM debit/withdrawal card, as well as a credit card. To do this, you will be issued with a letter of authorisation from the school and you will also have to produce your passport and obviously have to have a certain amount of cash to open the account.

Other advantages of an ED Visa include being able to obtain 3-monthly renewals at the local Jomtien Immigration Office, as opposed to having to make regular visa runs to Cambodia, Penang or Laos, for example. You will also endear yourselves to the Thai authorities, who appreciate the fact that you are learning the language and about the Thai culture, and also that you will be officially locatable, as part of the process requires the registration of your address and giving proof of residence in the form of ownership documents, a lease, or rental agreement with your name on the form.

A pleasant aspect of applying for an Ed Visa via CTLS is that all the paperwork and documentation is handled by the school, with you only having to sign the various documents and submit a copy of your passport. 12 passport-sized photos are also required.

2. Having paid your Bt14,000 deposit, given the school the necessary passport copies and photos and having signed the relevant pages of the documentation, submission is then made by the school to the Educational Department in Chonburi for ratification. After approximately 5 days, the ratified documents will be ready to be picked up from the school. It is advisable to then wait until the expiry of your current (probably Tourist) visa before applying for the new 3-month temporary Ed Visa. NB both 14 pages of documentation and 2 of the photos are required to be taken to a Thai embassy for the next step of the process. Failure to do so will mean a temporary Ed Visa cannot be issued!

3. The next step is to apply for a 3-month temporary Ed Visa by going to a Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Vientiane, Laos; Penang or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; or Singapore (note that the Thai Embassy in Singapore doesn’t have any Thai speakers, which could present problems). The visa application is normally a two-day affair, requiring passport and documentary submission before 12pm and collection in the early afternoon of the following day, usually at a cost of Bt2,000. Alternatively, application can be made at a Thai embassy in your home country, in which case the deposit will have to have been paid into the CTLS bank account, beforehand, along with submission of photographs. NB Thai embassies are now demanding at least 4 clear pages in a passport valid for at least one year after application before a temporary Ed Visa will be issued.


4. On your return to Thailand with your new 3-month temporary Ed Visa, your passport with the visa in place must be given to the school within the first 2 weeks, so a copy can be taken for the school records and a Student ID Card issued in your name. The Student ID Card will serve as necessary ID for most purposes in Thailand and means you don’t have to carry a valid copy of your passport wherever you go. The remainder of the course fees i.e. Bt14,000 must be paid at this stage.

5. Next, your course timetable must be agreed with the CTLS Director for Educational Department purposes and to actually acquire your 1-year ED Visa. Classes are normally held 4 times a week for 50 weeks, but breaks are permitted, though you must go to the Immigration Office in Jomtien to get a Re-Entry Permit of Leave if you want to go out of the country, otherwise the ED Visa will be invalidated!


6. 2-3 weeks before the expiry of the 3-month temporary Ed Visa, apply to the school for the new documentation necessary to apply for the full 1-year ED Visa. You will also have to furnish the school with:

a) a photo of you outside your residence, with the number of the address clearly visible
b) a photo of you inside your residence
c) a photo of you inside the classroom – which the Director will take for you
d) proof of residence in the form of ownership documents, a lease, or rental agreement with your name on the form and duly signed by the landlord or seller.

The new documentation, plus the other requirements above, must then be resubmitted by the school to Chonburi Educational Department. The turnaround period is approximately 2 weeks.

7. Once the documents return, you can take them with your passport and 2 photos to the Jomtien Immigration Office where you will then be granted a 1-year ED Visa, which requires to be renewed every 3 months. Each application will normally cost you Bt1,900 every time. Note that CTLS doesn’t actually charge you for an ED Visa, it is effectively free; the Bt28,000 is for the 200-hour course fees only.

8. When you have your 1-year ED Visa stamped into your passport, return to the school, so a copy can be taken again for the school records. You will also be able to actually start your Thai course shortly afterwards, as stipulated on your timetable.


9. As each of the three 3-monthly renewals of the 1-year ED Visa requires the resubmission of documentation to Chonburi, application at the school should be made at least 2-3 weeks before the 3-month period is up. Remember, each renewal costs Bt1,900 every time and also requires 2 photos, in addition to all the documentation.

10. At the expiry of each 1-year ED Visa, application can be made at the school to join a more advanced Thai course, or any of the numerous other courses run by the school, such as various computer, or foreign language courses. Each of which is priced according to the course and all of which entitle you to extend your 1-year ED Visa accordingly, effectively ad infinitum.



Note, although the 200-hour Thai Language and Culture Course is delivered in English, special provision is made for speakers of other languages such as Arabic, Russian or Korean, who can apply to have the course taught in their own language, either by class or individually, at a specially discounted price. Note also that CTLS Language School is fully licensed by the Ministry of Education to teach a whole variety of courses.

Conclusion

Although this process may appear to be complex, it is essentially no different to that required for a residence or retirement visa, with the advantage that all the complicity is taken care of by the school, which handles all the paperwork, at no extra cost. Note also that over 500 students at the TLS Language School in Bangkok have both successfully completed the 200-hour Thai Language and Culture Course and have managed to obtain the 1-year ED Visa with the minimum of hassle or frustration.


Details are available from info@tlslanguageschool.com or in person from CTLS, 202236 Moo 9, Pattaya Central Road (down the side of Carrefour Supermarket).
Telephone : 66 038 416891, 66 038 416892
www.tlslanguageschool.com

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