Thailand’s “Smart” Move? Expats in target industries may be eligible for long-term stay with the amendments to the Smart Visa Program

Home » Thailand’s “Smart” Move? Expats in target industries may be eligible for long-term stay with the amendments to the Smart Visa Program

The Thai government has recently enacted a new law that updates its Smart Visa program which will highly skilled expats and high net worth investors to reside in Thailand for an extended period of time. The Announcement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Re: Permission for Certain Foreigners to Reside in the Kingdom under Special Circumstances for Highly Skilled Experts, High Net Worth Investors, Senior Managers, and Startup Entrepreneurs B.E. 3 February 2566, signed into law on January 23, 2023, makes a few modifications to the original Smart Visa program, but many of its benefits and procedures remain unchanged.

The Smart Visa program was first introduced in 2018 to streamline the process for highly skilled experts, high net worth investors, executives, and entrepreneurs involved in Thailand’s targeted industries to live and work in the country. The program aims to attract expats with specialized skills and capital to bring their expertise to Thailand.

Under the new law, the Smart Visa program will be available for expats and investors involved in 18 of Thailand’s target industries, an increase from the initial 10 industries. The industries include: Automotives, Electronics, High-end tourism, Agriculture, food, and biotechnology, Automatic and robotics systems, Transportation and logistics, Petrochemicals and other chemical products, Digital goods and services, Medicine, National defense, Circular economy industries (i.e., waste-to-fuel production and water resource management), Aviation and aerospace, Human resource development in science and technology, Environmental and sustainable energy management, Technology, innovation, and startup ecosystem management, Targeted technology development, International business centers, and Alternative dispute resolution.

However, there are no changes to the application process or eligibility requirements for the SMART Visa. This means that individuals interested in obtaining a SMART Visa must still meet the same requirements and follow the same procedures.

Types of Smart Visas

The process of obtaining a SMART Visa begins with obtaining a “qualification endorsement” from a designated government agency, such as the Board of Investment, the Digital Economy Promotion Office, the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These agencies will evaluate the applicant’s skills and grant endorsement if they meet the criteria.

Once the endorsement has been granted, the applicant’s eligibility will be evaluated against other requirements. If all the requirements are met, the applicant will receive a letter of endorsement, which they can use to complete their SMART Visa application at either a Thai Consulate or the Immigration Bureau’s One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits.

For more information about the Smart Visa program, or if you are interested in acquiring a Smart Visa program, please contact us via [email protected].

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