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THAILAND – Smart Visa Qualifications Eased

Effective immediately, the Thai government has eased the qualifying criteria for the Smart Visa.

Smart Visa conditions have been adjusted in three areas: Eligible activities; Benefits for Smart Visa holders; and Qualifying criteria for applicants

Eligible activities

The list of eligible activities or “targeted industries” has been extended to include services in alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration, science and technology-based human resource development and renewable energy and environmental management.

Benefits

Smart Visa holders will now be able to use fast-track services at all international airports (where available).

Criteria

  • The minimum income required for highly-skilled experts has been lowered from TBH 200,000 to TBH 100,000, and to TBH 50,000 for experts in start-ups and retired experts.
  • Investments can now be made through venture capital companies.
  • In case of investment in start-ups, incubator programs or accelerator programs, the minimum investment requirement has been lowered from TBH 20 million to TBH 5 million.
  • New criteria have been introduced for three different categories of start-up entrepreneur, who now qualify for a six-month, one -year or two-year visa depending on the progress of their start-up.

Background

The Smart Visa, introduced in February 2018, is valid for up to four years (non-immigrant visas are usually valid for up to one year only) for qualifying highly-skilled professionals, senior executives and investors, and for up to two years (renewable) for start-up entrepreneurs.

Smart Visa holders are exempt from the usual requirements to:

  • obtain a work permit;
  • report to the immigration authorities every 90 days (extended to every year);
  • obtain a re-entry permit to exit and re-enter Thailand.

Spouses and children of the Smart Visa holder are also granted residence, and spouses can work in Thailand without a work permit (dependent children of at least 18 years can also work without a work permit under the Smart "T" Talent Visa).

Action items

  • Employers who may benefit from the Smart Visa are encouraged to contact their immigration specialist for case-specific advice.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2019 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.