The Thai government has introduced a four-year visa scheme called “Smart Visa” for foreign experts with high salaries, beginning February 1.
Foreign nationals earning over THB 200,000 per month in specialty industries such as healthcare or technology are eligible to obtain the visa. Their families, spouses and children, are also eligible to accompany them. The Smart Visa holders will be eligible for four-year periods and will automatically get four-year extensions, instead of one-year extensions. Their families can also automatically receive four-year extensions.
There is no age restriction for the Smart Visa, and it is believed that around 1,000 people will be applying each year.
The Smart Visa targets individuals these 10 specialized fields:
- Medical tourism,
- Food technology,
- Aviation and logistics,
- Digital technology,
- Medical services, equipment and pharmaceuticals.
The scheme is divided into four categories:
- First category: T for Talent – it includes successful professionals that are employed, with contracts at least 1 year long and a monthly salary of Bt200,000.
- Second category: I for Investors – is for investors in targeted industries with investment capital of no less than Bt20 million.
- Third Category: E for executives – includes high-level executives who work in the targeted industries and have over 10 years of experience. They also need to be employed, with contracts at least 1 year long and a monthly salary of Bt200,000.
- Fourth Category: S for startups – targets investors of companies that invest in targeted industries. The S (startups) Smart Visa category, differently from the others will have a an initial one year visa, that can later be extended.
The Smart Visa program was first proposed in March 2016 by an umbrella federation of trade groups. Its goal is to lure experts and entrepreneurs with technical knowledge to stay longer in Thailand.
The beautiful nature of the South-East Asian country, which includes many beaches and the low living costs attract many visitors. Only in 2017 the country welcomed 35 million visitors.