By Anayat Durrani
Wealthy and talented foreign investors are sought by the government of Thailand. The country is seeking a million wealthy foreigners to settle in Thailand over the next five years to bolster the economy. The Long Term Residency Visa program was launched as the government seeks creative ways to boost Thailand’s low economic growth.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Thailand’s tourist authority, said the Long Term Residency visa “is aimed at enhancing Thailand’s attractiveness to high-potential foreigners, as a regional hub to live and do business in.”
The government hopes foreign investors can contribute about a trillion Thai baht over a period of five years. Applications for the scheme opened in September 2022, providing foreigners with an extendable 10-year residence visa as well as a work permit. Supasorn said they hope to “attract foreign talent and expertise that can contribute to domestic spending and support economic growth.”
How to apply for Thailand’s Long Term Residency Visa
To apply for the Long Term Residency Visa, applicants must fit into one of four categories.
First category is for those who have cash and assets worth $1 million or more. Another category is applicable to those who have a pension of at least $80,000. A third category is reserved for remote workers who have a base in Thailand, and with an annual income of at least $80,000 over the past two years. In this case, they should have five years of work experience and be employed by a company that has an annual revenue of at least $150,000 over the three years prior to the application.
The final category is for professionals making $80,000 a year who have five years of work experience.
“I think the government is trying to lure in more high-income tourists or expats as Thailand's economy depends on tourism. Their main income is tourism and export,” says Benny Moafi, founder of Ratchada Law Firm, with offices in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, to Uglobal.
Visa program aims to boost Thailand’s economy
Moafi, a Swedish national who has lived in the country for 25 years, says Thailand has many hotels that are empty or going bankrupt. He says the country needs help in boosting the local economy.
“They really need it as many low income workers are suffering because of diminished income. It will destroy other businesses as well as these workers have no money to purchase or spend in other businesses. It is like a chain connected to each other,” says Moafi.
Meanwhile, the government recently announced it is considering reversing plans to allow wealthy foreigners with a Long Term Resident visa to buy up to one rai of land in return for 40 million baht in investments for at least three years.
“As I understood from the news, the government totally backed down. They were under pressure from Thai people who don't see foreigners as a part of society,” says Moafi.
The director of the Department of Land, Chayawut Chanthorn, earlier said that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon approved withdrawing the Interior Ministry's draft regulation allowing foreigners land ownership, as reported by local media.
The policy has received widespread public concern and criticism. The government is currently weighing the pros and cons of the policy and is expected to make a decision soon.
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