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Long Term Resident Visa Scheme – A Post-Pandemic Measure to Attract Wealthy and Talented Foreigners to Thailand

NO&T Asia Legal Review

*Please note that this newsletter is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. In addition, it is based on information as of its date of publication and does not reflect information after such date. In particular, please also note that preliminary reports in this newsletter may differ from current interpretations and practice depending on the nature of the report.

The Covid-19 pandemic has left a devastating effect on Thailand’s economy. To restore the economy, stimulate domestic cash flow and attract wealthy and highly skilled talent to Thailand, the Thai Cabinet approved the new “Long-Term Resident Visa” (the “LTR Visa”) as a new visa category on 14 September 2021, in order to attract wealthy and highly skilled foreigners to stay in Thailand on a long-term basis.

Background

Prior to the introduction of the LTR Visa scheme, foreigners who wished to stay in Thailand on a long-term basis after retirement were required to obtain Non-Immigrant Visa “O-X” (the “O-X Visa”). However, the O-X Visa was available to only 14 nationalities, and the holders of such O-X Visa were not permitted to work in Thailand. Although, in order to attract highly skilled professionals, visa and tax privileges have been granted under “Smart Visa” and “Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)” schemes, there were certain restrictions (e.g., the EEC scheme is restricted to only certain provinces in the EEC zone). The new LTR Visa scheme offers a more unified approach and flexible conditions for wealthy individuals, retirees, work-from-Thailand professionals and highly skilled professionals to reside in Thailand on a long-term basis without any restrictions regarding nationality or location in Thailand. Moreover, it accommodates foreigners who wish to work remotely from Thailand, or so-called “digital nomads”.

In response to the Cabinet resolutions on the LTR Visa, the Notification of the Ministry of Interior Re: Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Reside in the Kingdom as a Special Case in accordance with the Measures to Encourage the Economy and Investment by Attracting High-Potential Foreigners to Thailand (the “MOI Notification”) was enacted under the Immigration Act of 1979 and became effective from 31 August 2022. Under this MOI Notification, the Board of Investment of Thailand (the “BOI”) has been assigned as the authority to designate the qualifications to apply for the LTR Visa.

Qualifications to apply for the LTR Visa

Under the MOI Notification, “High-Potential Foreigners” who are eligible to apply for the LTR Visa are classified into 5 categories i.e., (1) Wealthy Global Citizens, (2) Wealthy Pensioners, (3) Work-from-Thailand Professionals, (4) Highly Skilled Professionals, and (5) spouses and children who are under 20 years of age of the LTR Visa holder (collectively “Dependents”). The qualifications to obtain the LTR Visa for each category are stipulated under the BOI Notification No. Por. 2/2565 Re: Qualifications, Criteria, and Conditions for the LTR Visa in accordance with the Measures to Encourage the Economy and Investment by Attracting High-Potential Foreigners to Thailand effective from 30 June 2022. A summary of the qualifications is as follows:

No. Categories Qualifications
(1) Wealthy Global Citizens
  • must invest at least USD 500,000 in Thai Government bonds, foreign direct investment in companies, or real estate in Thailand
  • must have personal income of at least USD 80,000 per year
  • must have assets in Thailand or abroad of at least USD 1,000,000
(2) Wealthy Pensioners
  • must be more than 50 years old and be a retiree
  • must have personal income or pension of at least USD 80,000 per year. In case that the applicant receives personal income or pension below USD 80,000 per year, but not below USD 40,000 per year, he/she must invest at least USD 250,000 in Thai Government bonds, foreign direct investment in companies, or real estate in Thailand.
(3) Work-from-Thailand Professionals
  • must fulfill any one of the conditions concerning personal income as follows:

    • personal income of at least USD 80,000 per year in the last 2 years; or
    • personal income of less than USD 80,000, but not below USD 40,000 per year in the last 2 years, in this case, the applicant must hold a master’s degree, or own an intellectual property, or received Series A round funding which has passed the seed funding stage for his/her business in the amount of at least USD 1,000,000.
  • must be contracted to work for employers outside Thailand who fulfill any one of the characteristics as follows:

    • a listed company in any country; or
    • a company which has been in operation for at least 3 years and has at least USD 150,000,000 of total income in the last 3 years.
  • must have at least 5 years of working experience in the relevant field within the last 10 years.
(4) Highly Skilled Professionals
  • must be contracted and seconded to work in Thailand by overseas companies or higher education institutions or research centers in Thailand or Thai Government agencies in targeted industries, such as:

    • next generation automotive industry;
    • aviation industry;
    • advanced agriculture and biotechnology industry;
    • biofuel and biochemical industry; and
    • digital industry, etc.
  • must fulfill any one of the conditions concerning personal income as follows: (the applicant who is assigned to work in higher education institutions or research centers in Thailand shall be exempted from this personal income requirement)

    • personal income of at least USD 80,000 per year in the last 2 years; or
    • personal income of less than USD 80,000, but not below USD 40,000 per year, in this case, the applicant must hold a master’s degree or higher in the field of science or technology or have the expertise to work in the field that he/she has been assigned to work in Thailand.
  • must have at least 5 years of working experience in the relevant field (except for the applicant who is assigned to work in higher education institutions or research centers in Thailand or holds a PhD degree or higher).
(5) Dependents Spouses and children who are under 20 years of age of the LTR Visa holder are eligible to apply for the LTR Visa (maximum 4 persons).

In addition to the qualifications listed above, all categories of High-Potential Foreigners must also have health insurance with at least USD 50,000 coverage or at least USD 100,000 deposit in their bank accounts (or at least USD 25,000 per each person in case of Dependents).

Privileges

The privileges which are granted under the LTR Visa scheme are as follows:

  • 10-year renewable visa with multiple re-entry permit;
  • permission to work in Thailand through the issuance of digital work permit (i.e., paperless work permit);
  • fast-track services at international airports in Thailand;
  • facilitation services at One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit;
  • exemption from the requirement to hire 4 Thais per 1 foreigner as a condition for visa extension; and
  • relaxation on the reporting requirement to the Immigration Bureau (annual report instead of the 90-day report).

In addition, tax incentives are also provided i.e., a fixed rate of 17% for the personal income tax of Highly-Skilled Professionals and a tax exemption on the personal income tax of other categories of the LTR Visa holders for the income which is generated overseas.

Validity of the LTR Visa

The LTR Visa will be valid for 10 years from the date of issuance with multiple entries. The LTR Visa holders and their Dependents will be permitted to reside in Thailand for a period of 5 years and the LTR Visa will be renewable for a maximum period of 10 years.

Application Process

The applicant for the LTR Visa may register and submit the application form and supporting documents through the BOI’s special website for the LTR Visa scheme (https://ltr.boi.go.th/index.html). The application and supporting documents will be considered by the officials within 20 working days. Once all documents have been verified, the applicant will receive a letter of qualification endorsement. The applicant shall proceed with the issuance of the LTR Visa at Thai Embassies or Consulates abroad or the immigration office in Thailand by submitting the letter of qualification endorsement, and collect the digital work permit at the One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit or at labor offices in Bangkok or other provinces in Thailand.

Further Development

The LTR Visa has been open for application since 31 August 2022. According to the information given to the press by the deputy secretary-general of the BOI, as of 14 September 2022, there are approximately 400 LTR Visa applications filed with the BOI with the majority of the applications being from wealthy pensioners※1. In addition to the privileges currently provided under the LTR Visa scheme as mentioned above, the Government is also considering allowing qualified foreigners to purchase residential property and land in Thailand. This privilege will relax the provision under the Land Code of Thailand which prohibits foreign individuals from owning land and houses in Thailand. The ministerial regulation outlining the conditions for qualified foreigners to own land will be issued later. However, as of October 2022, the exact timeline for the enactment of such regulation cannot be determined, and it can be expected that the regulation will have to undergo debate and deliberation by both the public and relevant authorities before its enactment.

This newsletter is given as general information for reference purposes only and therefore does not constitute our firm’s legal advice. Any opinion stated in this newsletter is a personal view of the author(s) and not our firm’s official view. For any specific matter or legal issue, please do not rely on this newsletter but make sure to consult a legal adviser. We would be delighted to answer your questions, if any.

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