Long-Term Stay for ‘High-Potential’ Foreigners

The economic impact of COVID-19 has been severe, and Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) and domestic investment have significantly decreased over the last few months. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has subsequently proposed measures to stimulate economy and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on workers and businesses. The Cabinet approved the NESDC’s new measures and multiple agencies are involved in the process of implementing them.

The Board of Investment (BOI) is the designated government agency to implement the new measures, including a newly approved, long-term resident visa. The Ministry of Interior will determine whether an applicant meets the visa eligibility requirements. Successful applicants will be exempt from filing the ninety-day reporting with the Thai Immigration, pursuant to section 37 paragraph 5 of the Immigration Act B.E. 2522.

Long-term resident visa-holders will also be granted a work permit in Thailand, provided they meet any of the following criteria:

1.   Have a personal income (such as salary and investment income) of at least $80,000 per year for the past 2 years; or

2.   Have a personal income of $40,000 per year, at least 5 years of work experience, and:

2.1.   A master’s degree or higher education; or

2.2.   Intellectual property rights; or

2.3.   Series A funding from a venture capital firm of no less than USD 1 million (or THB 33 million) per project at this stage.

A key element related to work permits is that the visa holder will not be subject to the requirement that for every foreign worker, four Thai employees must be hired.

Various other changes to taxes and exemptions were also part of the proposals:

   Reduce the import duty tariff, to facilitate and reduce the cost of importing goods and wine, spirits, and cigar tobacco for a period of 5 years;

   Revise customs regulations relating to customs clearance of passenger goods imported and exported out of the kingdom, to consider quality and quantity as opposed to the value of the goods; and

   Prepare and draft a decree, issued under the Revenue Code, to determine the personal income tax rate for skilled group long-term resident visa holders, compared to the Eastern Economic Corridor’s (EEC) same tax measures.

Measures proposed

The first main measure proposed is a long-term resident visa, a new visa for foreigners with ‘high potential’ and who would want to become long-term residents. There 4 types of qualifications for that visa:

The second main measure is amendments to relevant laws or regulations so that more foreigners can apply for this visa. The amendments include managing visas to avoid duplication and establishing a special service unit to facilitate and reduce procedures. The implementation of the measure and its overall achievement will be reviewed every 5 years. This 5-year period also applies as the deadline for tax benefits and landholdings. The action plan for this measure is April 2021-March 2022 with remaining actions to be approved by the Cabinet. Actions could include: approving secondary rules and related regulations for this type of visa and developing a service center for the processing and management of this visa.

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