Effective 1 February 2018, the Thai Board of Investment has introduced the previously-announced SMART Visa for highly-skilled foreign workers and investors in certain industries.

What are the Benefits of the SMART Visa?

The SMART Visa 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 one year (renewable for two years) 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).

Who Qualifies?

The SMART Visa is only available to certain foreign experts, executives, investors and entrepreneurs whose qualifications are endorsed by the designated agencies from any of the ten targeted “S-Curve” industries:

 

  • Next-Generation Automotive;
  • Smart Electronics;
  • Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism;
  • Agriculture and Biotechnology;
  • Food for the Future;
  • Automation and Robotics;
  • Aviation and Logistics;
  • Biofuels and Biochemicals;
  • Digital;
  • Medical Hub.

Visa Categories:

  • SMART “T” (Talent)
    • A highly-skilled professional in the area of science or technology must have an employment contract with at least one year remaining with an S-Curve company, and earn a salary of at least THB 200,000 per month.
  • SMART “I” (Investor)
    • An investor in a company using technology in manufacturing or delivering services in the targeted industries must make an investment of at least THB 20 million.
  • SMART “E” (Executive)
    • A senior executive (such as Chairman or Managing Director) with an employment contract (with at least one year remaining) with a company using technology in manufacturing or delivering services in an S-Curve company must earn at least THB 200,000 per month and hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, with at least ten years of experience in the relevant field.
  • SMART “S” (Start-up)
    • A start-up entrepreneur must be participating in an incubator, accelerator or similar programme, or receive joint venture funding, endorsed by a government agency, in a targeted industry. They must also have a fixed savings account in Thailand or abroad with a balance of at least THB 600,000 and a remaining maturity term of at least one year. Finally, they must set up a company in a targeted industry within one year, and hold no less than 25% of the shares or assume a directorship of the company.

How to Apply

Applicants must first obtain a qualification endorsement letter from the SMART Visa Unit of the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) at the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits (OSC). This application can be submitted at the OSC or at a Thai consulate, involves verification by the designated agencies in the relevant industry and takes 30 working days.

Note that holders of a non-immigrant visa must apply for the qualification endorsement at least 90 days before the expiry of the non-immigrant visa.

Within 60 days of the issuance of the qualification endorsement letter, the qualified applicant can then proceed with applying for a SMART Visa at a Thai consulate, or at the OSC if they are already resident in Thailand.

For renewals, a new application for qualification endorsement must be made at least 90 days before the SMART Visa expires.

Employers and potential applicants in the targeted industries should contact their immigration specialist for further advice on the new SMART Visa.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.