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.
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.
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:
||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.|
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:
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.
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