Work permits for Thai Elite
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Work permits for Thai Elite

Thailand Elite Card plans to add work permit privileges for members who invest US$1 million in Thailand, with the end of visa amnesty pushing member applications to a record high in August and September.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the adjusted privileges have to pass cabinet approval first, but the scheme should draw more investment to the country.

The privilege for the work permit will only be granted to the top tier categories, which cost 1-2 million baht. These members must have a minimum investment of US$1 million within one year.

Investment types are the member's choice, but the government would like to focus on property investment, which has been battered by the crisis.

Members would have to follow related agency regulations on foreign investment.

The additional privilege will automatically end if they do not possess or have any investment in Thailand.

Mr Yuthasak said this scheme is a bit different from the Board of Investment's scope that focuses on investors who already have a project proposal. Thailand Elite Card targets tourists with high purchasing power who would like to seek more opportunities in Thailand.

Somchai Soongswang, president of Thailand Privilege Card (TPC), the operator of Thailand Elite Card, said the company has 11,000 members globally.

But the number of applications in August and September spiked from a monthly average of 300 to 500 as the deadline for tourist visa renewal approached.

According to the Immigration Bureau, more than 150,000 foreign nationals need to have their tourist visas renewed by Sept 26 or face fines for overstay.

Mr Somchai said not all applicants are granted membership, as they have to pass the screening process at the Immigration Bureau and in some cases national intelligence agencies in their origin countries.

The process normally takes 15-45 days and TPC granted membership to only 200 applicants per month in August and September. TPC approved 100 memberships per month before the pandemic.

He said of the nine membership tiers, the best seller is the Elite Easy Access worth 500,000 baht, with a renewable five-year multiple entry visa. These cardholders make up 47% of the total, followed by Lifetime membership (22%), Elite Superiority Extension with 20-year membership (14%) and Elite Family Excursion (9.6%).

Mr Somchai said the company may close the 2020 fiscal year on Sept 30 with a cumulative loss of 300-320 million baht, less than the 519 million baht loss from the same period last year.

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