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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawAn Analysis of Long Term Specialized Visas in Thailand

An Analysis of Long Term Specialized Visas in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, we're going to be talking about certain long-term visas most notably things like the 10-year retirement visa, the so-called four-year smart visa which has been proposed and as of the time of this filming, we've yet to actually to be seen implemented and finally, the so-called two-year visa under certain BOI schemes. So specifically, what we're talking about is Thailand especially in more recent years has been coming up with various programs and one I forgot to mention a moment ago is the elite card program. They've been coming up with various programs to provide longer term status in the Kingdom to people with certain either qualifications pursuant to investing in the Kingdom, retiring in the Kingdom or working with specialized skills in the Kingdom or sort of VIP status, if you will.

Why are we talking about this? Well, just a brief overview sort of the history of immigration status in the Kingdom. Up until the mid to middle 70s. I'm an individual who came to Thailand, simply asked at the airport “Do you wish to remain in Thailand as a tourist or are you here to stay for a while?” And if you said you were here to stay, they actually stamped you a permanent resident at the airport. That is actually the old regime if you go back relatively into the 70s. That regime changed in about 74, 75 and the scheme that we now are fairly used to today, the scheme that's still pretty well in effect today with some modifications came about where you have the B visas, the O visas, these various sort of non-immigrant categories but there was still also permanent residents and at that time, it was still relatively straightforward.

I won't use the term easy but relatively straightforward and arguably easier than it is now to still get permanent residents although you oftentimes had to show a certain level of time spent in the country, salary, all of this kind of things. Sometime in the 80s, they also came up with work authorization a.k.a. work permits. We're not going to go into that specifically here. What I'm trying to provide is a history as to how this is evolving and why it's evolving the way it is.

Well, so there was this non-immigrant visa and then there was a fairly straightforward methodology by way of changing from a non-immigrant status over into permanent residence and Special Branch police used to have jurisdiction with respect to permanent resident adjudications here in Thailand. And then later, those adjudications were moved over to the immigration police directly. The reason again I'm bringing this up is to show that over time, for lack of a better term, the bureaucracy isn't created in such a way and a number of people that were wanting to live in Thailand long term has pretty well exponentially increased over the years to the point where one of the backlogs and the quotas with respect to permanent residents and the requirements associated therewith in the process is such that it's kind of prohibitive to many individuals who want to become a PR.

You can check out information specific to Thai permanent residents in another video on this channel. But what I'm trying to sort of explain here is it's relatively straightforward to become a non-immigrant and do the renewal process on a yearly basis for new ones, work permit and go through that process. It's not quite so easy to and not quite so straightforward to transition into Thai permanent residence. It's actually quite a time-consuming, relatively frustrating and document intensive process and that's not to say anything about anyone involved with the process. It's simply the way it's involved in is simply the way the system works. I think what Thai immigration officials are trying to do is create something akin to a middle ground here. They're basically trying to go ahead and say, “Look, we understand this non-immigrant system. It's not very effective at dealing with our more long term visa holders who are actually more or less working and creating a tax base here in Thailand, generating revenue and of taxes here in Thailand.”

And I think that the authorities are looking at ways in which to go ahead and try to move some of those folks into a more permanent status. That isn't quite permanent residents per se but is not as day-to-day sort of almost transitory as the current system or as the normal system with respect to always having to renew every year the 90-day check-ins etc. So you've seen things like the 10-year retirement visa - we discussed a recent update on that in another video on this channel. The 10-year retirement visa was created for those, I mean I think it's created for two reasons - one, if you're willing to bring in a more substantial amount of money and sort of park it in Thailand, then the immigration authorities are willing to provide quite longer-term status in terms of a 10-year visa that's created in two partitions of five years. They're there. They've created that structure to go ahead and sort of provide consideration for the folks that are willing to park is significant.

I won't call it an investment but significant capital in the Kingdom in which to retire with. Another thing like the elite card, if one is willing to pay half a million Baht, just pay into the elite program for the elite benefits. One of the benefits is a five-year visa. Another thing that's just recently been announced although implementation is yet to be seen is the four-year smart visa for professionals and investors in certain industries here in the Kingdom. That I think has been designed for those who are willing to bring in a vast significant amount of not only capital but resources in terms of intellectual property resources, technological exchange, etc. Certain consideration is probably going to be given for that in the form of these longer term visas.

Finally, there's the BOI. There are in certain very narrow subsets of circumstances, instances where you're going to see two-year visas being issued, two-year work permits being issued as opposed to the standard one-year visa, one-year work permit issuance. And again, the reason for this is generally speaking BOI companies are subject to actually substantially more scrutiny under most circumstances than just the gist of so-called SME small company. Generally speaking again, BOI companies are granted that status because the individuals involved with them are bringing in substantial resources with respect to investment, often technological exchange.

The thing that I want to impart, though, as closing out this video is the notion that these are not particularly widely available visas across the board of the elite program and the 10-year retirement visa have significant financial obligations associated with approval of such visas. The the four-year smart visa as proposed, although not yet implemented, it seems to me like it's going to be very similar to the two-year BOI where look the folks that have gone through the process of getting a BOI certification have had to be extremely scrutinized by the Board of Investment. And moreover, the Board of Investment generally has to specifically provide for those two-year visa benefits and we're generally talking about pretty significant going concerns. These are not small businesses that are getting these kind of longer term visas issued. So folks that are doing things like F&B and sort of, a you know food and beverage and sort of a smaller restaurant small business, something like this small consultants, small trading companies, things like this you know retail companies, SMEs, small to medium sized and medium sized can get fairly big.

It's not to say that that these companies are small in an absolute sense but more in sort of a relative sense. And it should be noted that again, although these options are becoming more available, there are certain costs associated with them and they're not just sort of handed out in a general way. They're generally, in my opinion, especially the smart card which we get, the smart visa which we've yet to see it fully implemented, it's my opinion that we're going to see that and it's going to implemented in such a way that it's going to only be a narrow subset of people that are going to be eligible for it but it's going to be a fairly significant benefit to those who can actually get those, that immigration status.