For visitors to Thailand who wish to stay for a year or longer without the inconvenience of quarterly border runs, the Thai Immigration Department introduced the ‘ED visa’ or to give it its full title – the Education Visa.
This visa permits a visitor to stay for one year, providing they fulfill the requirements, get accepted, and sign up and attend a one year course in a feature of Thai culture. For most this means learning to speak Thai. The course needs to be with an academy accredited by the Ministry of Education. At the end of the year they can sign up again for a further year. Currently some visitors have been able to benefit from this scheme for 3 consecutive years.
However this should not be viewed as a ‘cheap’ way to stay in Thailand. Language academies are required to report attendance records of ED visa holders to the immigration department. Anyone abusing the arrangement by frequent non-attendance (without a valid reason), could have their visa revoked, which gives very little time for the visitor to pack their bags and leave the country.
Generally no language academies make a charge for processing an application, though there maybe an administration charge for costs incurred for a failed application. In two years we have never experienced a failed application.
When comparing course costs between language academies, be sure you are comparing like for like. At TLC for example, we charge 27,900 baht for a 180 period (one year) course including textbook. Some other academies are offering a 180 period course for 25,000 baht, which on the face of it is cheaper.
However TLC periods are 55 minutes long. For a lower price, some other academies offer only 40 minute periods. So on a 40 minute period basis the cost is 208 baht per hour, whilst the TLC rate is only 169 baht per hour. At TLC we do not believe that 40 minutes is sufficient time for a period to learn a foreign language.
In addition we periodically arrange cultural activities for students to practice the Thai they have learned in a practical way.