Smart Visas are available for investors, executives, talented individuals and those involved in start-up incubators and accelerators to stay in Thailand for up to four years.
There is, however, one important requirement: at the moment, SMART Visa holders must be working in one of the 10 industries targeted by the Thai government as essential to advancing the Kingdom’s economy and level of development. Expanding the new visas to other industries, however, is under consideration.
The 10 targeted industries are: Aviation and logistics; biofuels and biochemicals; robotics; digital development; next-generation automotive; medical industries; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology, and food for the future.
These industries are the foundation of Thailand 4.0, a bold and visionary 20-year national strategy. Thailand 4.0 endeavors to transform the Kingdom’s economy from one reliant on manufacturing existing products designed by others to one driven by innovation, research and development, creativity and the development of higher technologies and green industries.
No work permit needed to work in Thailand
The SMART Visa will also function as a Work Permit and the holder will receive various significant benefits.
First, SMART Visa holders can stay in the country for up to four years.
Second, they can report to the Immigration Department on a yearly basis instead of every 90 days as at present. Third, they can depart from and re-enter into the country without applying for re-entry permits.
Fourth, they can contact the One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit (OSS) at Chamchuri Square for their SMART Visa applications. In addition, SMART Visa holders’ family members will also enjoy similar benefits.
Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI‘s Secretary General, has expressed confidence that the brand new visa category, SMART Visa, approved by the Thai Cabinet on 16 January 2018 would be a key driver in promoting investment in the 10 targeted industries as well as in facilitating the country’s development towards its ambitious Thailand 4.0 goals.
“In attracting more foreign investment, in addition to investment promotion incentives, facilitation to increase convenience for investors to do business in Thailand is very important,” Ms. Asawachintachit said.
“In recent years, the Thai government has improved its services, resulting in the improvement of the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report from 46th to 26th. The SMART Visa will increase convenience in facilitating investors doing business in Thailand.”
A visa to support Thailand 4.0
To support Thailand 4.0, the government is investing over $60 billion in new, upgraded and cutting edge infrastructure. Some of it will improve logistics and increase Thailand’s connectivity with neighbors, the region and the world.
But a significant percentage of it will support the Eastern Economic Corridor, a three-province advanced development zone just east of the capital Bangkok that will be home to the 10 industries and serve as a showcase for Thailand 4.0.
Physical infrastructure represents the hardware of Thailand 4.0. Human resources are the software. Thai policymakers are now emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education to create the kind of workforce needed for the future. Thailand is determined, however, to progress toward its development goals today.
When the World Bank released its Ease of Doing Business report for 2017, the Kingdom of Thailand soared 22 places up the rankings to 26th in the world from 48th just one year earlier. The Bank recognized and rewarded the sweeping reforms undertaken by the Thai government to better serve business and the economy.