Our lawyers at H&P, have been approached and asked many times on the Smart Visa Program, since the early beginning when newspapers such as Bangkok Post or The Nation started to talk about it till the Cabinet approval. We are happy to explain all the relevant aspects about Thailand Smart Visa. Since 2016 we have been discussing, behalf some of our clients, with different agencies of the Government of Thailand on the proper amendments on the different existing visas existing in Thailand, especially for retirement and business.

In this context of rapid evolution and necessary adaptation to a very competitive regional context where the different ASEAN countries are making enormous efforts to attract the foreign investment and a mass of foreign highly skilled manpower, the Thailand Smart Visa might fit with many of the needs of large corporations since the 1st of February 2018 when started to be enforceable.

Generally speaking, the Smart Visa mission is to attract highly-skilled experts, investors, senior executives, startup entrepreneurs, and also cover their spouses and children, in 10 targeted industries:

1) Next-generation Automotive
2) Smart Electronics
3) Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism
4) Agriculture and Biotechnology
5)Food for the future
6)Automation and Robotics
7)Aviation and Logistics
8)Biofuels and Biochemicals
9)Digital
10)Medical Hub

As we can easily identify the Thai Elite visa as the visa for high net worth individuals looking for a long term stay of pleasure in the Kingdom, the Smart Visa might be suitable for a quite a specific profile of investor or business with a long term and innovative vision that Thailand wants to attract to modernize the country.

Firstly, the criteria for the employees or highly skilled professionals in the fields of science and technology are A) Minimum Salary of 200,000 THB, B) Minimum 1 year of employment contract with a company incorporated in Thailand C) Expertise in science and technology in one of the above mentioned 10 industries and endorsed by a government agency such as the National Innovation Agency or the Digital Economy Promotion Agency.

In return the employee or talent will enjoy: A) Maximum of 4-year visa B) No work permit required C) 90 days reporting extended to 1-year D) No re-entry permit required E) Right to work in Thailand for spouses and children with no work permit.

Secondly, the criteria for the investors are A) Investment of at least 20 million THB B) the investment must be maintained during the validity of the smart visa and C) The business must be certified by relevant government agencies. The privileges are the same as for the employees or talents.

Thirdly, the criteria for senior executives are A) minimum remuneration of 200,00 THB B) Hold a bachelor degree or higher with at least 10 years of experience C) Employment agreement with a company registered in Thailand D) Senior Management position within that company and E) Certification by relevant public or government agency. In return, the privileges are the same as for the talents or investors.
Fourthly, the criteria for foreign startup entrepreneurs are: A) Own a bank account with at least 600,000 THB in Thailand or abroad B) In case of wife if children an additional of 180,000 THB per person C) Have a health insurance D) Participating in an incubator or accelerator program endorsed by a government agency. E) Set up the company within 1-year F) Relevant certification from government agency.

The privileges under this category of foreign startup entrepreneurs are different from the one mentioned before and are as follows: A) 1-year visa for the first time and if requirements are met then 2 years or less than 2 years B) No Work permit required C) Compulsory 90 days reporting to annual reporting. D)No re-entry permit E) Spouses and children can stay in the Kingdom and can work without work permit.

From our point of view, one of the key elements of the implementation of the Smart Visa in Thailand will be to meet with the qualifications and the criteria specified by the Government, in other words to be verified finally by designated agencies. Of course, we are referring here to the certifying bodies that will have to issue in first instance a technical endorsement letter to then allow BOI Thailand in second instance to issue a letter on qualifications endorsement. On the other hand, we believe that the preliminary positive effect of allowing the dependents to work in Thailand without work permit will be very quiet low as this policy is designed to benefit high end employees who might not be looking for or in need of other additional sources of income.

For more information on Smart Visa contact our lawyers in Bangkok at [email protected]

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