By Moustafa Daly
Thailand Elite Visa for foreign investors is set to witness major changes by October 31.
Touted as the ‘VIP access to Thailand’, the current Elite Visa grants foreign investors multiple-entry, long-term visas to the Southeast Asian country for packages starting at only THB 600,000 ($17,000).
As part of its revamp, the visa’s investment threshold is expected to be hiked to at least THB 900,000 ($26,000) for a five-year, renewable visa. For a 20-year visa, the threshold will be set at THB 5 million ($143,000).
In addition to unrestricted access to Thailand, a major tourist destination, the Elite Visa also offers a number of perks, including annual health checkups, fast-tracked airport and hospitality services, and access to nationwide government services.
Thailand launched the Elite Visa in 2013 and currently has between 20,000 and 30,000 members as per local media reports. The program witnessed a boom after the Covid-19 pandemic, mainly driven by Chinese applicants who now make up at least 30% of Elite Visa holders.
The new changes are yet to be fully made public by local authorities. However, the cut-off date to apply with the current threshold is reportedly set at September 15. The new threshold is expected to kick in by October’s end.
Investors can still apply for the Thailand Elite Visa with the old conditions and threshold until September 15, 2023.
Competition for wealth intensifying in Southeast Asia
Thailand is the latest country to launch and revamp its long-term investor visas to attract wealthy foreigners.
Nearby Singapore runs one of the world’s most expensive investor visa, the Global Investor program, with an investment threshold of a minimum of $1.86 million. The program has increased in popularity since the Covid-19 pandemic driven by Chinese investors who seek an investment-friendly base not far from their home country.
Also, Malaysia runs two investor visa programs, Malaysia My Second Home and Premium Visa programs, both requiring deposits made in local banks amounting to RM 1 million ($218,000). Both programs also require proof of substantial disposable wealth.
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