Thailand Board of Investment Announces New 4-Year Professional Visa Program

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SMART Visas are available as of February 1st for highly-skilled foreign workers who qualify.

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The new SMART Visa program allows foreigners to live and work in Thailand without obtaining a work permit and to check in with immigration once per year rather than every 90 days.

The Thailand Board of Investment recently announced a new visa program specially designed for professionals working in highly skilled industries such as healthcare, tech, and robotics, in order to encourage them to stay in Thailand. Among other benefits, the new SMART Visa program allows foreigners to live and work in Thailand without obtaining a work permit and to check in with immigration once per year rather than every 90 days. Thailand BOI has started accepting applications for the SMART Visa program as of February 1, 2018.

Four categories of professionals are eligible for Thailand BOI’s new ‘SMART Visa’ program:

1)    SMART “T” or Talents and highly-skilled professionals in the science and technology field in targeted industries, contracted for at least 1 year with a salary of at least $200,000 baht (USD $6,278.00) a month.
2)    SMART “I” or Investors in targeted industries with direct investment capital of at least $20 million baht (USD $627,000) in target industries.
3)    SMART “E” or Executives working in targeted industries with over a decade of experience and who earn salaries greater than $200,000 baht (USD $6,278) a month.
4)    SMART “S” or Startup Entrepreneurs with at least 600,000 baht (USD $18,834) in bank account deposit, who participate in an incubation or accelerator program, or a similar program endorsed by a government agency such as the National Innovation Agency (NIA), the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA).

Applicants for the SMART Visa must be certified by related government agencies such as NIA, DEPA, and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).

Investors, professionals and entrepreneurs who work in any of the industries incentivized by the Thai government can qualify for visas of either two or four years in length. These ten incentivized industries, commonly referred to as ‘S-Curve’ industries, are next-generation automotive, smart electronics, medical tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food production, robotics, aviation & logistics, biofuels and biochemical, digital technology, and medical technologies. The SMART Visa program is not expected to affect the local labor force adversely as it focuses on attracting and retaining foreign talent to work alongside Thai workers, transferring knowledge and helping these industries grow further.

Some of the advantages of Thailand BOI’s new SMART Visa program include an extended visa length from one to four years, the ability to work without a permit, less frequent check-ins with Thailand’s immigration agency (annually, rather than every 90 days), and the inclusion of family members and dependents under the same visa.

Foreigners can submit application forms for the SMART Visa program to the SMART Visa Unit, located at the One-Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permits (OSS) 18th FL, Chamchuri Square Building, Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10300. Tel. +662 209-1100 x1109-1110, or email SMARTvisa@boi.go.th. For further information, please visit this link.

The SMART Visa is part of a variety of incentives Thailand BOI has put forth to attract and retain foreign talent. Last year, BOI opened the Strategic Talent Center, a one-stop-shop for companies seeking foreign talent and for foreign workers seeking to work and live in Thailand and who work in science- and technology-related professions. The retention of this type of talent, and their work in conjunction with Thailand’s local workforce, are integral to bringing about the next incarnation of the Thai economy, popularly referred to as ‘Thailand 4.0’.

About BOI
The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) is the investment promotion agency for Thailand that facilitates foreign direct investment. BOI’s services are free of charge and customized to help business succeed in Thailand. For more information, please visit http://www.boi.go.th and http://www.thinkasiainvestthailand.com.

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David Margolis
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