Visas for 10 targeted industry professionals introduced with work permit exemptions
6 Feb 18
IMPACT – HIGH
What is the change? The Thai government is introducing a SMART visa for foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs and investors in 10 “S Curve” industries.
What does the change mean? Among the benefits, SMART visa holders will be exempt from having to apply for work permits, and their spouses and children are eligible for resident permits during the length of the primary visa holder’s stay.
- Implementation time frame: Estimated Feb. 1, pending implementing guidelines.
- Visas/permits affected: SMART visas.
- Who is affected: Foreign experts in 10 designated industries.
- Impact on processing times: The process, including issuance of relevant endorsement letters, is expected to take 30 business days.
- Business impact: The visas are intended to attract foreign talent and investment in targeted industries.
- Next steps: Implementing guidelines are still being finalized. Applicants will be required to apply for a letter of endorsement from the SMART Visa Unit of the Thai Board of Investment (through the One-Stop Visa Center) and then another endorsement of their qualifications from the designated certifying government agency for their professional field.
Background: There are four categories of SMART Visas. Applicants must work in one of the following 10 targeted industries and meet the qualification for their category.
- 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
- Medical Hub
|SMART Visa category||Qualifications||Duration||Other Benefits|
|T – Highly Skilled Experts (Talents)||Expertise in science/tech in a relevant target industry, minimum salary of 200,000 baht, and minimum 1-year contract with a Thai entity that is certified by relevant government agencies.||4 years maximum, but not exceeding duration of contract.||No work permit required, no re-entry permit required, spouses and children over 18 granted work authorization.|
|I – Investors||Direct investment of at least 20 million baht in a Thai company that uses technology as the basis for goods or services; business must be certified by a relevant government agencies.||4 years maximum.||No work permit required, no re-entry permit required, spouses granted work authorization.|
|E – Senior Executives||Minimum salary of 200,000 baht, hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and minimum 10 years of experience in relevant field, hold a senior management position such as chairman or managing director, and hold a minimum 1-year contract with a Thai entity certified as using technology as a basis for goods and services in a targeted industry.||4 years maximum, but not exceeding duration of contract.||No work permit required, no re-entry permit required, spouses and children granted work authorization.|
|S – Startups, Entrepreneurs||Participating in an incubator or accelerator program (or receiving joint venture funding) that is endorsed by a relevant government agency. Applicant must set up the company within one year and hold at least 25 percent ownership or be a director. Applicant must have fixed savings of at least 600,000 baht, at least 180,000 baht for spouse and each child, and have a health insurance policy.||1 year initial, and renewal for up to 2 years if requirements are met.||No work permit required, no re-entry permit required, spouses granted work authorization.|
BAL Analysis: The SMART visa program is a positive development aimed at attracting science and technology experts by providing work-permit exemptions for qualifying senior executives, highly skilled talents, investors and start-ups. BAL is following this development and will report additional information when the guidelines are available.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Thailand. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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