What is the change? The Thai government has amended its SMART visa program, opening it up to new industries and easing application processes and eligibility requirements for foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs and investors.

What does the change mean? The changes have broadened the SMART visa program and allow more people to apply.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The Thai Cabinet approved the amendments in November.
  • Visas/permits affected: SMART visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs and investors in target industries.
  • Business impact: The changes are intended to help attract foreign talent and investment.

Background: Thailand launched the SMART visa program in 2018, looking to attract foreign workers in key “S Curve” industries. Officials recently added (1) alternative dispute resolution services, (2) human resource development for science and technology and (3) renewable energy and environmental management to its list of S Curve industries. They have also said they will open a fast-track service for SMART visa holders at all international airports that already have a fast-track lane.

Application requirements have also changed. For example, officials dropped the monthly income requirement in the SMART ‘T’ visa category for highly skilled professionals to 100,000 baht per month (about US$3,150) or 50,000 baht per month for those working at local start-ups. The government also changed investment thresholds for SMART ‘I’ visas for investors. Applicants now must invest at least:

  • 20 million baht per individual investor in businesses using technology in the production process or services or venture capital companies certified by the government,
  • 5 million baht in government-certified start-ups, incubator programs or accelerator programs.

Analysis & Comments: The SMART visa program was designed to attract foreign talent and investment, and the recent changes were implemented to ease processes and qualification requirements for experts, executives, entrepreneurs and investors.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.