Smart Visas to start next month offering 4-year stays

Smart Visas to start next month offering 4-year stays

The government is introducing a four-year visa next month for professionals called a "Smart Visa" to attract foreign experts and high-level executives to work in the country, the cabinet announced yesterday.

It will allow the bearer and their dependents to stay in Thailand without having to report to Thai immigration every 90 days. If certain conditions are met they will not require a work permit.

The purpose is to lure skilled workers who can contribute to 10 focused industries so they can help realise the government's goal of an innovation- and technology-led economic upgrade to "Thailand 4.0", Minister of the PM's Office Kobsak Pootrakool said after yesterday's cabinet meeting.

The visa will be divided into four categories -- T for Talent, I for Investors, E for executives and S for startups.

While the first three categories offer four-year stays, entrepreneurs holding the S Smart Visa will be granted an initial one-year term that can later be extended.

Those who are eligible for the new visa scheme include applicants working in the science and technology field, investors, high-level executives and startup entrepreneurs in a list of 10 industries.

Mr Kobsak said Thais should not fret about losing their jobs to foreigners as 39 professions will be excluded from the visa applicants.

About 1,000 people are expected to apply for the Smart Visas each year, according to an estimate by the Board of Investment (BOI).

Before the applicants can put in a request for the visa at a Thai consulate or embassy their application must be approved by the BOI, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies.

This process is expected to take around 30 days, Mr Kobsak said.

Applications will open on Feb 1, he added.

The cabinet also approved yesterday a motion to extend the deadline by which migrant workers must have their nationalities verified from March until the end of June.

Thailand has been cracking down on illegally hired migrant workers in recent months to ensure their human rights are not violated and their working visas are all in order.

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