Long-Term Resident (LTR) Visa
published : 27 Jul 2022 at 15:52
A New Long-Term Option
Thailand has consistently been among the top tourism destinations in the world, with Bangkok often taking the number one global destination city in the world, while Phuket and Pattaya also remain hugely popular. And although the pandemic impacted tourism worldwide, Thailand’s quarantine-free reopening in May was a welcome change for visitors anxious to explore the Land of Smiles, with a further loosening set to take place provided the decline in infection rates continues. The government and tourism organisations are working to rebalance this important sector with the country’s reopening to a new normal and the rapid shift to more environmentally conscious travel, which ranks highly among tourists worldwide, and in particular, Thai travellers who are strongly committed to sustainable journeys and respect for local communities – while travel platforms are likewise updating their sustainability information, including accommodation providers that save energy and water, support local communities and protect nature. However, beyond the conventional travel market, one aspect of the reopening that is likely to gain attention is the rollout of the Long-Term Resident (LTR) Visa, which is intended to provide an important boost to the Thai economy – and well-timed as the country opens up. To give a boost to the reopening, the government launched a set of incentives to attract long-staying foreign investors and foreigners which can help in attracting investments and skills with a longer-term win-win approach.
A Win-Win Strategy
To stimulate the economy, the goal of the LTR visa is to attract high potential foreign residents to Thailand among four groups. An estimated one million qualified new foreign residents over a five-year period (2022-2026) are expected to generate one trillion baht in spending, 800 billion baht in investments, and 270 billion baht in tax income. The benefits include not being required to notify Thai authorities every 90 days (moving to annual periods), which is standard for conventional visa and work permit holders and a mild source of frustration among visa holders. Moreover, and more importantly, the visa period is for a ten-year stretch (renewable after five years), providing significantly extended coverage and likely to be an important draw for applicants. The win-win approach is meant to attract and bring in qualified individuals with greater spending power than regular short-stay travellers, whose trips are for just a fixed period, while on the applicant side, LTR visa holders are those who know Thailand and would want to put down roots, buy homes, work in advanced sectors and make business investments making productive use of their time.
Positive knock-on effects
As the LTR visa rolls out, the four eligible groups who can qualify are high-income earners, retirees, highly-skilled workers, and professionals working remotely from Thailand. A notable benefit on the business side is the removal of the requirement for employers to hire four Thai citizens per foreigner, making the process for hiring much easier. In this regard, LTR visa holders can help the broader economy while those in the information technology and engineering fields can potentially assist Thailand in valuable technological developments, AI, and data science, in line with Industry 4.0, while health care service providers can expect to benefit from the higher number of foreigners in the country demonstrating the knock-on benefits.
Home in the Land of Smiles
With the different visa classifications currently available, the LTR visa is likely to win out among foreigners given its simplicity and competitive benefits, namely property purchase eligibility and reduced personal income tax rates. The LTR visa is also meant to boost Thailand’s competitive position within ASEAN and globally with a more streamlined process and an enhanced benefits package providing a more competitive choice to other countries around the world as well as those much closer to home, including Malaysia’s tightened Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) eligibility criteria. While many countries are looking to attract investors, remote workers and the more affluent segment, the LTR visa looks to be the right fit given the valuable benefits accorded to visa holders, the incentivised long-term approach, and the fact that Thailand remains a hugely popular country of interest to foreigners worldwide. The BOI’s Expatriate Services Division is in charge of handling all inquiries and processing the LTR visa and is coordinating with the relevant government ministries as well as the NESDC in implementing the program. Also worth noting is that the registration fee was reduced from the initial 100,000 to 50,000 baht, providing a sizeable cost-saving and an added enticement for eligible applicants looking seriously at Thailand as an option. The country is already an important base for a large number of leading multinational corporations from around the world across a range of sectors, many of which are increasingly focused on advanced technologies and industries, and more sustainable solutions. The LTR visa, which is set to contribute to longer-term economic growth, can therefore serve as an important way to crowd-in a diverse and talented group of expatriates attracted to a country that is providing a far more convenient and attractive option to grow their inbound investments while also further showcasing Thailand as the preferred location for high potential foreigners looking to transition into their new home.