Integrity Legal - Law Firm in Bangkok | Bangkok Lawyer | Legal Services Thailand Back to
Integrity Legal

Legal.co.th - Resources 

Research & gain insights into Thai, American, and International Law.

 

Contact us: +66 2-266 3698

info@integrity-legal.com

ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsUpdate Regarding the 4 Year Smart Visa

Update Regarding the 4 Year Smart Visa

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, as the title suggests, we are going to be talking about updated information with respect to the so-called 4 year Smart Visa. As those viewers of this channel may recall we discussed the 4-year Smart Visa in another video but at that time it was simply a proposal, it would appear that now and enactment and issuance of these visas is very close at hand and I figured we do a video to update and recap what's going to be happening with respect to these kinds of visas.

So quoting directly from khaosodenglish.com , well I should say Khao Sod English but their website is khaosodenglish.com. The title of the article is “4 Years Smart Visas Available Starting February 1”. “Starting February 1st, eligible foreigners in Thailand can apply for new 4-year visas, officials said Wednesday. The long-awaited Smart  Visa program which will allow high earning expats to maintain professional visas without needing to report to immigration every 90 days received formal approval from the interim cabinet on Tuesday. It is intended to increase knowledge transfer and skill development in desirable fields such as Technology and Medicine. It is worth noting that that article came out, it was published January 17th, 2018. Another article on this, going back a little while, December 27th, 2017, it's not that far, is entitled, again from Khao Sod English, “More Info on 4-year Professional Visas Coming Next Month”. Quoting directly from the article, "Smart Visa holders can be investors or entrepreneurers in said specialized Industries which qualify for visas for two to four years depending on their field. Investors must have their investments approved by the Thailand Board of Investment", take note of that I am going to discuss that further at length but it is very notable, but quoting further "specialized fields are 10 fields identified by the government in its technology push under the so-called "Thailand 4.0 initiative. Five are existing Industries: automotive, electronics, medical tourism,  agrotech and food technology. Looking towards the future the other 5 Industries are Robotics, Aviation and Logistics, Biochem, Digital Technology and Medical Services and Equipment and Pharmaceuticals”. So what can we take away from this? Well it would appear that the government here in Thailand is rather serious about implementing this 4-year Smart Visa scheme. That being said and I've had a lot of interest in this, since we first did a video on it and I want to discuss it further and provide some nuance with respect to how this scheme will operate in practice. This is not going to cover everyone. This is certainly not going to cover people who come to Thailand and wish to start a small business. Clearly there is designated areas in which these visas are going to be issued so the person who wants to come to Thailand and set up a small restaurant, a small bed and breakfast, small bar, whatever small business of many types I mean, service business, accounting companies, whatever, wanting to come over here, that is not going to be covered under the scheme. Moreover I think it is notable that the writers of the article specifically point out that investors will have to go through the BOI.  I think as a practical matter you're primarily only going to see investors ultimately being granted these kinds of visas, for the most part because I don't really see how you can quantify an entrepreneur unless you can point to an actual business or investment that they are looking to get into. I could see, you know, if Mark Zuckerberg the Head of Facebook wanted to come to the Kingdom of Thailand and obtain a 4-year visa, I think he is probably going to be able to do that because he can just point to Facebook and say “yeah that's me,  I am an entrepreneur, I started Facebook”. I think the Thai authorities will look at that and say “yeah we're probably going to want to have that kind of skill set and expertise around!” The vast majority of us people are probably not going to qualify under the entrepreneurial sort of “paradigm” if you will, because I think it's very hard to nail down and it's been my experience that Immigration Officers and other officers working for Government, and this is not just Thailand this is throughout the world, they like to be able to point to a set of criteria and they like to be able to use that set of criteria to make a decision based on the facts in a given situation. As it sits, the entrepreneurial side of the scheme sounds a little bit more murky.  That's not to say we're not going to see a body of rules and regulations come about which deal specifically with entrepreneurs in this category. The thing to take away from this video is, I don't see it happening anytime soon. What I do see happening fairly quickly is if this visa is going to be used to shall we say lure, for lack of a better term, lure new investors to Thailand, encourage new investment in Thailand, then I think you're going to see situations where you have got significant investors in these specific Industries being granted Smart Visas fairly quickly. Again, subject to BOI approval, the Thailand Board of investment would be involved in that process and again that means that is going to be a set of criteria. That means there is going to be an adjudication that takes place in order to ascertain whether or not the applicant comports with that criteria for purposes of visa issuance. But that being said, the thing to take away from this video is Yes, Smart Visas are going to happen but I think it's not going to be the type of visa that every third person you see on the street is going to have, here in Bangkok or Thailand generally. I think it's going to be the type of visa that is fairly I won't say uncommon but it's not going to be a visa that is just issued willy-nilly, it's not going to be a visa that's issued in any great volume  it's going to be the type of visa that's oh it's almost sort of a novel thing. You see somebody “Oh yeah I got one of those Smart Visas” “Oh wow, it's kind of rare you meet somebody like that”. That's the situation I see as a practical matter moving forward I think you are going to see Visa, Smart Visa issuance, although again, not uncommon necessarily, it’s not going to be something you see gets issued in a broad based sort of high volume capacity.