Thailand’s Cabinet has approved what is arguably the biggest shake up regarding immigration policy and the rules on foreign land ownership in more than forty years.
On Tuesday (Sept 14) the Cabinet gave the green light for Thailand to offer 10 year visas in a bid to attract so-called ‘wealthy foreigners’ to relocate to the country.
Dr. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, disclosed that the Cabinet has approved in principle a host of economic and investment stimulus measures aimed at attracting high-potential foreigners to Thailand for long-term stay.
The government hopes the newly approved measures, which were first mooted back in April, will achieve three goals.
1. To attract more than 1 million foreigners to stay in Thailand as long term expats with a focus on targeting four specific groups:
a) ‘Rich’ global citizens would need to be able to prove income of at least $80,000 over the last two years and have $1 million in assets. They would also need to be able to invest at least 16 million baht in property or government bonds.
b) Digital nomads – or professionals working from Thailand – would need to be earning $80,000 for the last two years or $40,000 a year and would be self employed or employed by a company overseas but which are able to use Thailand as a location to work from. They would be able to ‘work’ in Thailand without needing a work permit. They would also need to show educational qualifications of a master’s degree or higher or at least five years experience in their field.
c) ‘Wealthy’ retirees – are defined as those who are aged 50 or over and who can invest 8 million baht in property or government baht, while also being able to show a minimum annual income of $40,000.
d) Highly skilled professionals from SET-listed companies or from a company with an annual income of more than $50 million.
2. To stimulate domestic spending by 800 billion baht as well as helping to generate 270 billion baht in additional tax revenue.
3. Enhance the expertise of workers in Thailand by attracting foreign specialist or ‘experts’ to settle in the country, which in turn will boost the Thai economy.
The approved measures consist of two main factors:
1. The issuance of a long-term visa, which will be a new type of visa for eligible of high-potential foreigners. The visa would allow foreigners to stay in Thailand for up to 10 years, without the need to submit a 90 day report.
2. Amendments to relevant laws or regulations such related to land ownership, and to allow foreigners to work for employers within Thailand without the need for a work permit. The rule of one foreigner employee to 4 full time Thai employees will also be scrapped.
The Cabinet has assigned the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) to consult with the Board of Investment Office, the Interior Ministry, the Labour Ministry, the Royal Thai Police Office to iron out the final issues before the new policy are formally put in place.
Dr. Thanakorn also revealed that the NESDB expects measures will be fully implemented over the next five fiscal years, or will in place by 2026.
The new measures will increase Thailand’s expat population by more than one million and bring a 1 trillion baht boost to the Thai economy.
Other measures that would help to attract foreigners will also be evaluated, the NESDB said, including:
Long-Term Residency (LTR vasa) benefits are valid for 10 years including dependents or spouses and children.
Obtain an autorun license after LTR approval.
Income tax exemption for income from abroad.
Long-term ownership/rent rights of real estate (including land), etc.