The Association of Private School for Non-Formal Education is seeking a relaxation of visa restrictions for foreign teachers and students in Thailand, including those who are waiting to enter the country.
On Tuesday, Thongchai Pradubchananurat, president of the association, said the association requests that foreign teachers and students already in the country be allowed to stay in Thailand legally until the end of this month so their universities can have more time to prepare the paperwork needed to renew or apply for work permits and student visas.
Foreign teachers with expired work permits should be given an additional 30 days by the Immigration Bureau to renew their visa. The teachers need a visa extension so they can stay while applying for a new permit, Mr Pradubchananurat said.
Foreign nationals with tourist visas who intend to teach here should be allowed to stay until they are given Non-Immigration Education visas without having to leave the country first as they normally would be required to do, he said.
Mr Pradubchananurat said prospective foreign students already in Thailand on other types of visas that will soon expire should be granted with special permission to have their visas upgraded to the Non-Immigration Education visa in Thailand, despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
The global pandemic of the new coronavirus has severely disrupted the education sector, including various institutions nationwide.
The sector is facing a shortage of foreign teachers, Mr Pradubchananurat added.
Many teachers with a proper work permit left Thailand and cannot return to work due to the pandemic that has not been brought under control in many parts of the world.
The new school term has already begun, and some classes are missing their foreign teachers who have not been able to return, Mr Pradubchananurat said.
Many prospective foreign students who are already in Thailand would sometimes only have 15 days to stay in the country, which means they would have to leave the kingdom and apply for a Non-Immigrant Education visa at a Thai embassy overseas, he said.
However, COVID-19 has made travelling impossible.
The association on Tuesday submitted their request to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha through the government’s complaint centre.
The request was received by Suporn Atthawong, the deputy PM’s Office minister.