The head of the Thai Condominium Association sees the Cabinet’s approval of long-term visas for wealthy foreigners as a boost for the real estate sector.
Apa Attaboonwong, whose association approved a previous long-stay visa linked to the Elite card, said the new visa regime for “digital nomads”, highly skilled workers, wealthy civil servants and wealthy retirees would lead to a recovery in condo sales, which tanked during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, condominium sales were around 450 billion baht. In 2021, sales were just 100 billion, he said.
On January 19, the Cabinet approved the creation of a 10-year visa for wealthy foreigners or digital nomads who could pay 10,000 baht per year for the first five years of the visa and have it extended for another five years at rates in force at the time.
Eligibility rules and regulations have yet to be finalized, but the Ministry of Labor and Foreign Affairs is working on a draft. It is also expected that the visa will include an immediate work permit.
In 2020, the Cabinet tried to link 5-10 year visas to the purchase of property, with the requirement to invest 10 million baht in condos or businesses and register for a new Elite Card program for 500,000 baht.
The condominium association and other real estate groups opposed the plan, calling buying an Elite card an “indirect” and unnecessarily expensive way to provide visas. Instead, the government should offer direct visas without conditions.