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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawComparing the Elite Card and Permanent Residence in Thailand

Comparing the Elite Card and Permanent Residence in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today we are going to be talking about the Elite card and Thai Permanent Residence.

There are some misconceptions with respect to, in my opinion some misnomers with respect to both Thai Permanent Residence as well as the Thailand Elite Card program. So first off what is the Elite Card program? Well as noted in another video on this channel, there is a program in Thailand whereby individuals can enter this Elite Card program and by doing so one of the benefits that comes with the Elite Card is a long-term visa and these long-term visas can be issued in 5, 10, 15, 20 year increments. There are various benefits associated therewith but notably for Baht 500,000 one can enter the Elite Card system and be granted a five-year visa here in the Kingdom. This can be very beneficial for those that don't otherwise fall into a particular category but wish to stay long-term in Thailand. They don't particularly wish to have a business in Thailand, nor do they have business interests in Thailand, they are not married necessarily to a Thai, they are not related by blood to a Thai National, they don't wish to go to say school in Thailand, they don't qualify for something like the retirement visa. For those folks the Elite card is quite a boon.  It can be very, very beneficial and essentially 500000 buys, in a sense buys 5 years lawful status and then it goes up from there all the way up to 20 years of status. But that is a little bit different than Thai Permanent Residence.

And, let me explain. In Thailand, after a certain period of time has transpired and one has been in the statutorily requisite period of time in visa status and in work permit status one can apply for permanent residence in the kingdom. And once one is granted permanent residence by the immigration department, one basically doesn't really have to worry about their visas. There is a non-immigrant visa system which in most cases the visa, although now, with the advent of the 4-year Smart Visa this is going to be a little different, but in the past it's primarily been you need to go ahead and renew your visa every year, that's business visas, marriage visas, education visas, what have you, retirement visas although with the new retirement visa scheme that's going to change things a little bit more too. But that being said, the shorter-term visa categories, it's a very different thing than being PR. Once one has Permanent Residence basically there's no need to keep renewing visas and in fact if one never needs to leave the country, essentially there isn't very much one has to do to maintain their lawful status; they are just in country they are legal it's done. The lawful status is complete. That is a different status however than the Elite card.  The Elite card has an expiration date so one’s Elite Visa may last for 5 years, it may last for 20 years but it has an expiration date. Permanent Residence does not have an explicit expiration date. It doesn't expire per se. It can be revoked, in theory.  It’s not a particularly common occurrence based on my experience or what I know about immigration law and immigration practice here in Thailand, but it can happen. That being said, while it is of a permanent nature,  It doesn't in and of itself confer work authorization which is kind of a strange aspect especially coming from the American system where lawful permanent residence automatically has work authorization attached to it. One who has permanent residence in Thailand is not immediately authorized with a work permit, they don't have work authorization per se and in fact one has to get a work permit for any new job that one would go into even in PR status. What PR is nice for is the work permit rules are little bit more lax with respect to PR but that's something for the video specifically on PR. Comparing that back again to the Elite card, so PR doesn't have an expiration date Elite Card does and in fact moreover the Elite Card is and of itself, it's almost like a really long tourist visa; that's the way I look at it is the status it confers is almost akin, it's a really long stay tourist visa. That being said, I have talked to the Elite Card folks, there are arrangements that can be made for work authorization while in Elite status, it depends on the circumstances, and may even require having to deal with immigration again with respect to making sure that everything is proper with respect to not only work authorization but visa status. So the thing to take away from this video is, yes Elite status can be granted for a very long period of time; 20 years is a substantial  period of time with respect to a visa but it is not strictly speaking lawful permanent residence in Thailand. Lawful permanent residence in Thailand has a totally different set of criteria one has to adhere to in order to even  apply for PR and then thereafter, once PR is obtained or once PR is granted, there are certain things that have to be done to maintain it. Leaving the country, there are certain things that have to be undertaken in order to leave the country, Elite status is a bit more flexible when it comes to formalities but at the end of the day PR status and Elite status are very, very different qualitatively. The final thing to take away from this is, PR can be a springboard into applying for naturalization to Thai citizenship,  Elite card status , in and of itself is not, in and of itself a springboard  for jumping into, applying for naturalization to Thai citizenship. As again, it's effectively a very, very long tourist visa, it's not considered residence and therefore prerequisite, or one of the prerequisites possibly for applying for naturalization to Thai citizenship.