I’ve recently been asked to assist in a US litigation matter (arising from Asia-based clients) in taking depositions in Thailand. I was not sure if a work visa was needed for what would be 2-3 days of “work,” but I thought I should check.
The Department of State website has significant information on Judicial Assistance abroad (including service of process), and also comments on several countries specifically. The DOS website does not include anything specific on whether or not I would need to obtain a work visa to conduct those depositions, but when I look at other websites with consular information, I fear that not having a work visa could put me at risk of jailtime!
I called the Royal Thai Consulte-General in Hong Kong to ask specifically and was told, “up to you!” when I asked if I needed a work visa! That was such an odd and overly-relaxed suggestion, but if it were up to me, I would not want to go to jail, so I will gladly pay the fee (HK$600) and not mind the 2-day processing time. (Apparently, it may be more difficult from the US, where my colleagues had to go through far more trouble.)
I did learn through this process that Japan has a specific visa for taking/defending depositions – so that is good to know in the event I end up in Japan for such purpose.
But this made me wonder whether all my friends ever bothered when doing business abroad – whether it be lawyering (attending client meetings, signing deals, etc.) or sales (marketing, training) or everything else that includes short-term work. I somehow doubt most people go through the trouble and wonder how often people get in trouble for it.
The reason I am going to get my work visa for Thailand for this 3-4 day trip is because I had read somewhere that Americans have been jailed for violations, though I doubt for taking depositions. But given it isn’t that much trouble, I’d rather not take the risk!