Thailand’s SMART Visa: A Quick Guide

Home » Thailand’s SMART Visa: A Quick Guide

As part of its initiative to attract technically skilled foreigners, the Royal Thai Government has introduced the SMART Visa programme which is designed to streamline the process of enabling experts, executives, entrepreneurs, and investors to live and work in the Kingdom. The programme aims to encourage technical experts to bring their expertise and capital into the country to facilitate long-term economic growth.

SMART Visas can be split into different categories, each possessing different sets of qualifications and privileges as follows:

Smart T: for highly-skilled experts[note]“Thailand’s SMART Visa – Attracting Foreign Talents and Technology”, “SMART T”, Thailand Board of Investment (2018) (available at https://www.boi.go.th/upload/BOI-brochure%202018-smart%20visa-EN-20180125_97687_87299.pdf)[/note]

Eligibility:

  • Technical experts in a scientific or technological field
  • A minimum monthly salary of at least THB200,000
  • Must be employed at a S-Curve company with a contract of at least one year

What are Smart T Visa holders entitled to?

  • A four-year visa that is valid until the employment contract ends
  • Holders of this visa do not require a work permit if working for an endorsed company
  • Notification of residence can be done on an annual basis instead of the regular 90-day period
  • Re-entry permits are no longer necessary

Smart E: Senior executives[note]Ibid, “SMART E”[/note]

Eligibility:

  • Must hold at least a Bachelor degree or 10 years of relevant work experience in the field
  • The position held must be at the executive level
  • A minimum monthly salary of at least THB200,000
  • Must be employed at a S-Curve company with a contract of at least one year

What are Smart T Visa holders entitled to?

  • A visa valid for one year and is renewable for two years
  • Holders of this visa do not require a work permit if working for an endorsed company
  • Notification of residence can be done on an annual basis instead of the 90-day period
  • Spouses are able to work without a work permit

Smart S: Startup entrepreneurs[note]Ibid, “SMART S”[/note]

Eligibility:

  • Must have a fixed deposit of THB600,000 with a maturity of one-year or more.
  • The applicant must hold an insurance policy
  • Must be involved in an endorsed incubation program or joint venture
  • Must establish a company in the Kingdom within a year with at least 25% ownership; or a board member of a company in any of the targeted industries

What are Smart T Visa holders holder entitled to?

  • A visa valid for one year and is renewable for two years
  • Holders of this visa do not require a work permit
  • Notification of residence can be done on an annual basis instead of the 90-day period
  • Spouses are able to work without a work permit

Smart I: Investors[note]Ibid, “SMART I”[/note]

Eligibility:

  • A minimum investment of THB20 million in a technology-based company in one of the S-Curve industries.

What are Smart T Visa holders entitled to?

  • A visa valid for a maximum of four years
  • Holders of this visa do not require a work permit
  • Notification of residence can be done on an annual basis instead of the 90-day period
  • Re-entry permits are not required
  • Spouses are able to work without a work permit

The S-Curve industries[note]“SMART VISA offers more benefits to foreigners (translated from Thai)”, Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, (Aug 18, 2017) (available at https://pmdu.soc.go.th/smart-visa/3465)[/note]

The SMART Visa scheme is targeted towards individuals involved in the 10 targeted industries of the Thailand 4.0 initiative, including:

  • Robotics and automated machinery
  • Aviation and logistics
  • Biofuels and biochemicals
  • Digital services
  • Agriculture and biotechnology
  • Food
  • Wellness tourism
  • Medical tourism
  • Hi-tech automotive
  • Smart electronics

How does the application process work?

Expats who wish to apply for the SMART Visa must first apply for a ‘qualification endorsement’, where a corresponding government agency will assess the expat’s skills and provide an endorsement if the criteria are satisfied. These agencies include the Board of Investment, the Digital Economy Promotion Office, the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others.

Once the technical endorsement has been issued, other requirements will be screened. If the applicant fulfills all the requirements, they will be given a letter of endorsement which they can use for their SMART Visa application at either a Thai Consulate or the Immigration Bureau at the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits.

Who is the SMART Visa for?

It is important to note that the SMART Visa is by no means a scheme intended for digital nomads. Rather, it is an initiative to designed to attract scientists, engineers, and executives who possess the necessary skills in the 10 industries targeted by the government amid Thailand 4.0. The initiative’s strict guidelines emphasizing highly technical skills are an indication of this.

To learn more about the SMART Visa and our immigration services, please feel free to contact us using the contact form provided.

 



[wp-svg-icons icon=”quill” wrap=”i”] John Mendiola

Author

  • John Mendiola

    John is an experienced copywriter who has worked for several NGOs writing about humanitarian issues, and has been researching legal issues for 5 years. He has had articles published on a number of fields, including economics and blockchain.

Contact Us

    Shopping Basket