Thailand joins global race to lure wealthy foreigners with residency visas

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): As Covid-19 recedes globally, many countries are granting special long-term visas to affluent foreigners in a bid to boost tourism and attract talented professionals to accelerate their economic recovery.

Thailand launched the updated Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa on September 1, joining Japan, Singapore, the UK and the United Arab Emirates in granting long-stay rights to targeted foreigners – although the conditions vary from country to country.

Since last month, Thailand has halved the fee for its 10-year LTR visa from 100,000 baht to 50,000 baht to attract four groups of foreigners – the wealthy, the retired, those who want to work in Thailand and the experts.

The government expects the LTR visa to bring in at least a million people a year, significantly boosting post-Covid economic recovery.

Specific conditions have been set for each group. Affluent applicants must have combined assets of at least US$1 million and an income of at least US$80,000 per year. They must also invest at least $500,000 in Thailand properties or other assets.

Meanwhile, Retirees and Experts must earn at least $80,000 per year, while the latter must have at least five years of work experience at a specialized level in a targeted industry.

Those who want to work in Thailand must earn at least $80,000 a year and have at least five years of experience in legally registered businesses with a total turnover of $150 million over the past three years.

The visa also covers up to four family members, including dependents under the age of 20.

Elsewhere, Japan has launched the High End Talent Visa to attract skilled labor in agriculture, construction and other areas where demand for foreign workers is high. Applicants must pass a language test and other relevant training. The visa has unlimited validity.

Singapore plans to launch the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass (ONE Pass) in January next year.

The pass is valid for five years but can be renewed. Applicants must have a fixed income of at least 700,000 baht per month and must demonstrate that they have worked for an overseas-based company for at least 1 year, or will work for a Singapore-based company.

Individuals with outstanding achievement in arts and culture, sports, science and technology, academia and research are eligible for the ONE Pass, even if they do not meet the salary criteria.

The UK launched its High Potential Individual Visa in May this year. The visa is valid for two years but can be converted into a long-term work visa if the conditions are met.

Applicants must have graduated from an eligible institute outside the UK within the last five years and have obtained a B1 score or above in the English language test. A criminal record check is also required.

The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, launched the five-year green visa for the United Arab Emirates last month to attract highly skilled workers, digital nomads and investors. Eligible candidates must earn at least 150,000 baht per month and hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Business owners can also apply provided their income exceeds 3.5 million baht in the past two years.

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