Thailand – “Smart Visa” Debuts, Opportunities for Executives, Investors, Entrepreneurs
TH–Smart Visa, Opp for Execs, Investors, Entrepreneurs
This report covers new details available on conditions and steps for acquiring a SMART Visa for Thailand.
Effective February 1, 2018, qualifying foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs, and investors working or investing in the science- and technology-targeted industries in Thailand may be eligible for a SMART visa.1
This report follows up on our earlier report (see GMS Flash Alert 2018-006, 11 January 2018) and provides further details and information on the qualifications, criteria, and privileges provided under the SMART visa program.
WHY THIS MATTERS
This is a welcome incentive that could help reduce administrative burdens and costs for those qualifying for the SMART visa and their employers. In addition, there are important benefits for accompanying family members.
10 S-Curve Industries
The SMART visa is offered to qualifying foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs, and investors who wish to enter into Thailand to work or to invest in the following 10 S-Curve industries2:
- Next-generation automotive,
- Smart electronics,
- Affluent-tourist tourism, medical tourism, and wellness tourism,
- Agriculture and biotechnology,
- Food for the future,
- Automation and robotics,
- Aviation and logistics,
- Biofuels and biochemical,
- Medical hub.
Categories, Qualifications, and Benefits under the SMART Visa
||The privileges in Smart I are the same as those in Smart T, except that children of the Smart I holders cannot work in Thailand under the SMART visa.|
||The privileges in SMART E are the same as those in SMART T, except that children of the SMART E holders cannot work in Thailand under the SMART visa.|
||The privileges in SMART S are the same as those in SMART T, except: 1. The visa will only be valid for 1 year in the first year and 2 years in the subsequent years. 2. Children of the SMART E holders cannot work in Thailand under the SMART visa.|
Spouse and Children of SMART Visa holder
|N/A||See privileges within each of the above categories.|
Smart Visa Application Process
Both foreigners residing outside Thailand and foreigners already residing in Thailand can apply for the SMART visa3, if the above qualifications are met.
Qualifying applicants must submit a SMART visa application along with supporting documents4 to the SMART Visa Unit, a newly established department under the Thailand Board of Investment (“BOI”), which is located at the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits in Bangkok. The SMART Visa Unit at the One-Stop Center will process applications, including:
- assessing technical qualifications,
- identifying and sorting through immigration issues,
- confirming whether the applied occupations are not legally prohibited by various designated agencies,
- obtaining verification and endorsement, etc.
These processes will be completed before the SMART Visa Unit will issue a qualification endorsement letter which the applicant will use to apply for the SMART visa at either the Thai Embassies or Consulates (in case one resides outside Thailand) or the Immigration Bureau at the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits (in case one resides in Thailand). The qualification endorsement letter for the SMART visa is valid for 60 days.
The total processing time is estimated at 30 working days upon receipt of a completed application dossier by the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits.
SMART visa holders must submit documents to prove their current qualification status to the SMART Visa Unit at the One-Stop Center for Visas and Work Permits on an annual basis (after receiving permission to stay in Thailand).
At first glance the SMART Visa appears to be an attractive program; however, the Immigration team with the KPMG International member firm in Thailand has reservations regarding the administrative and implementation processes.
From our review of the details of the program, it may be difficult for individuals to meet the required criteria which could delay the 30-day processing time, especially since in practice, additional documents may be required. For one, the employer companies and start-up companies must be certified by the relevant government agencies in the targeted S-Curve industries, which we anticipate is something that will take time to obtain.
Foreign start-up entrepreneurs under the SMART S visa must set up a company in Thailand in order to comply with the visa requirements. However, should the foreign entrepreneur wish to retain control of his or her company in Thailand, that entrepreneur may be required, depending on the nature of his or her business activities, to obtain a foreign business license under the Thailand Foreign Business Act. Obtaining a foreign business license could take up to three months. Furthermore, SMART visa holders would still need to prove their qualification status on an annual basis, which is no different from non-immigrant visa holders who need to renew their visas and work permits on a yearly basis (or every two or four years for those non-immigrant visa holders granted under special incentives programs issued by the BOI).
Overall, if candidates can successfully qualify and be granted a SMART visa and continue to maintain qualifications throughout the duration of the visa, the benefits under the SMART visa – such as not having to apply for a work permit or a re-entry permit or the extension of the 90-day reporting requirement to Thai Immigration to a year – could be considered well worth the administrative efforts required to obtain the SMART visa.
1 To learn more about the SMART Visa, see Thailand’s Board of Investment (in Thai), click here.
Also you may find further information on the Board of Investment Web site (in English) by clicking here.
2 For more details (in Thai), click here (PDF 54.1 KB).
3 For further information (in Thai), click here (PDF 47.1 KB).
4 For further information, click here.
THB 1 = EUR 0.02557
THB 1 = USD 0.032
THB 1 = GBP 0.0227
THB 1 = AUD 0.040
* Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Thailand.
© 2021 KPMG Phoomchai Tax Ltd., a Thailand limited liability company and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.
KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.
Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.