The Thai Elite Visa program, known for granting multiple entry stays and various privileges in Thailand for durations ranging from five to 20 years, is set to undergo significant changes in the coming months. Starting from mid-September, the current version of the program, which has long been favored by high-net-worth individuals, investors, and business executives, will become obsolete.
Consequently, new applications for Thai Elite Visas will only be accepted until September 15, along with compliance to all existing requirements. Holders of an Elite Easy Access package, available for a cash payment of THB 600,000, have the option to upgrade to either the Elite Ultimate Privilege package or the Elite Superiority Extension. However, these upgrades must be completed by August 15, 2023.
Until the deadline, Elite Visa holders who apply will not have their current privileges cancelled and will continue to enjoy them until the end of their validity.
Why the sudden change? What’s to be expected?
The change in the program has been prompted by the original aim of attracting wealthy expatriates who can contribute significantly to the Thai economy through real estate investments or involvement in the country’s growing economy.
Public concerns and recent crack downs on Thai businesses operated by foreigners without valid permits may have influenced the Thai government’s decision to implement measures for better scrutiny of Elite Visa applicants. The upcoming changes are expected to introduce stricter registration requirements, altering the application process, and preventing anyone bypassing these controls. Authorities will place greater importance on considerations such as criminal records, Interpol alerts, past visa records, and financial history. Additionally, there will be significant increases in the Elite Visa fees.
The government’s stance on work-related activities for Thai Elite Visa holders may be reviewed. Currently, the program does not grant work permits; however, certain package members, such as the ‘Flexible Plus,’ may be eligible to obtain permits from the Department of Labor by investing at least US$1 million in approved foreign ownership of real estate, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, or Thai-registered companies. The new Thai Elite Visa program is expected to provide clarification on whether visa holders will be allowed to attend business meetings or organize business events, as such activities without a work permit are currently illegal.
What should you do if you currently hold a Thai Elite Visa or are interested in applying for one?
If you currently hold a Thai Elite Visa or are interested in applying for one, it is crucial to submit all necessary documents and pay the relevant fees before the September 15 deadline. Elite Visa holders under the Elite Easy Access package seeking an upgrade must complete the process by August 15.
Given the limited time remaining, those interested in applying for an Elite Visa should promptly seek the assistance of a visa expert. This will ensure adherence to specific requirements and processes, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Silk Legal will closely monitor the developments surrounding the upcoming changes to the Thai Elite Visa program and provide further updates as they become available. If you require guidance on visa or work permit matters or wish to apply for a Thai Elite Visa before the deadline, we strongly encourage you to contact us at [email protected].