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It therefore comes as no surprise that an increasing number of foreign nationals are also considering Thailand as an investment residency destination. The Thailand Elite investor visa programme was consequently launched in 2003 with a view to enable foreign investors to gain access to Thailand more efficiently and without the frequent need for tourist or business visa renewals.
The programme, being one of the first of its kind the world, offers foreign nationals a number of options for obtaining long stay rights in Thailand, with a range of concierge type benefits included. Depending on the investment option chosen, foreigners can stay in the country for up to 20 years.
The country has a reputation for complex bureaucratic process. Moreover, the rules around residency immigration and visa validity has change quite frequently in recent years, making it an occasionally unpredictable second residency jurisdiction. In comparison, a country such as the Turkey Residency By Investment Programme offers a far more predictable application process, and successful applicants are able to obtain residency rights or even outright citizenship within a relatively short period of time.
The Thai Elite Programme offers non-nationals 3 membership options, with several variations on each category:
Thailand Elite Easy Access: This is a popular business visa type option for foreign professionals doing business in Thailand. Membership is valid for 5 years, and is non-transferable. There is no age restrictions for membership. Benefits include airport concierge and shuttle servies, as well as certain partner discounts and access to dedicated support call centres.
Thailand Elite Family Excursion: This membership package is targeted at foreign families of 2 people or more. The membership fee is THB 800,000, inclusive of VAT, for the primary member, and THB 700,000, inclusive of VAT, for the secondary member. Your long stay visa is valid for 5 years. Benefits include airport shuttle and concierge services, premium airport lounge access, certain partner discounts as well as access to a dedicated support call centre.
Thailand Elite Privilege Access: This membership shares most of the benefits of the Elite Family Excursion package, but is valid for 10 years instead of 5.
Thailand Elite Superiority Extension: This membership package costs THB 1 million per member and is valid for up to 20 years. It must however, be renewed every 5 years.
Yet for all Thai Elite’s benefits, the programme could not compete as a serious residency by investment programme, as it is essentially just a long stay visa. The Thai government therefore consequently also launched a property investment residency product to attract professional talent and investment.
About the Thailand Residency By Investment Programme
A property investment of THB 10 million (around USD 300,000) is required. In most cases you’ll be required to purchase a newly developed property off-plan, rather than an existing completed one. Such an investment could make you eligible to apply for a longer stay investor visa. The country also offers long stay retirement visas for foreign, financially self-sufficient individuals over the age of 50 years.
Gaining actual permanent residency, however, is a more complex and challenging process. You must have lived in Thailand continuously for at least 5 years, meaning that the non permanent residency programme is not very well suited for non-nationals looking for a Plan B option beyond their native countries.
A Thai Citizenship by Investment Programme?
At present, Thailand does not have a Citizenship By Investment Programme, and it is not anticipated that such a programme will be launched in the near future, if at all.
NB: The above article is for general informational purposes only. It is deemed accurate at the time of publication, however the accuracy of the information is not guaranteed by Maiden & Associates due to the changing nature of the requirements involved.