New Smart Visa rules in the works for digital nomads in Thailand


Digital nomads in Thailand may soon be able to apply for the Smart Visa, allowing a stay of up to 4 years without a work permit. The Board of Investment, or BOI, is proposing changes to visa requirements to allow foreign freelancers to apply for the Smart Visa. The rules have already been approved by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The next step is Cabinet approval.

This is very good news for foreign freelancers who needed to get creative when it comes to legally stay in the country. Before the pandemic, many made border crossings every few months, switching from tourist visas to tourist visas. Now that the borders are closed, some are on tourist visas which have been extended in the country due to the pandemic. Others are on voluntary visas. Some even paid thousands of baht and enrolled in classes just to get a study visa to stay in the country.

According to the BOI proposal, people currently in Thailand on a tourist visa could switch to a Smart Visa. To apply for the visa, applicants must have an employment contract with a foreign company of at least 6 months as well as proof of qualifications and experience.

BOI Deputy Secretary General Narit Therdsteerasukdi said opening the Smart Visa to foreign freelancers would attract more talent from abroad.

“The influx of talent will create a talent pool in the country.”

The Smart Visa was launched in February 2018 and was “designed to enhance Thailand’s attractiveness by attracting science and technology experts, senior executives, investors and startups.” Since then, only 514 foreigners have obtained the Smart Visa.

In addition to allowing foreign freelancers to apply, the BOI also wants to relax the requirements to allow more executives, investors and start-ups as well as science and technology experts to apply.

THE SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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