Smart visa conditions revised for experts

Smart visa conditions revised for experts

The Board of Investment (BoI) is ready to announce new conditions and incentives for the smart visa for overseas experts in an attempt to transfer technology and know-how to the country's industrial sector and encourage foreign startups to move to Thailand.

The government introduced the smart visa programme in February, designed to encourage highly skilled professionals and talent to work and invest in targeted industries in the EEC.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, the BoI secretary-general, said the cabinet acknowledged and approved the revision of the smart visa last Tuesday.

The visa added three new categories, with the first for targeted industries, such as alternative dispute resolution, human resource development for science and technology, and renewable energy and environmental management.

The second category is to increase privileges and benefits for smart visa holders, with the cabinet ordering the Immigration Bureau to open a fast-track service for foreigners holding these visas at all international airports.

The third category is to decrease minimum monthly income to 100,000 baht for general experts and 50,000 baht for experts in local startups, while the monthly income from high professionals and executives stands at a minimum of 200,000 baht, though the BoI has changed this to include all income and bonuses.

In addition, the BoI is allowing startups to receive local venture capital and revising startups' minimum investment from 20 million baht per individual investor to co-investment for multiple investors, while new startups require a minimum investment of 5 million baht.

Ms Duangjai said the smart visa for startups will have three periods -- six months, one year and two years -- instead of a one-year period with two-year renewals.

As of September, there were 1,078 inquiries about the smart visa, but only 37 people applied for one. The government approved 28 smart visas for digital and automation/robotics.

The BoI had expected to approve 1,000 applications for the smart visa this year.

The smart visa lets overseas experts stay and work in Thailand for up to four years without a request to obtain a work permit from the Labour Ministry.


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