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Smart Visa Making Long Stay In Thailand Easier

Smart Visa Making Long Stay In Thailand Easier

For the purpose of further promoting the Eastern Economic Corridor and a value-based, innovative, and technology-driven economy under the Thailand 4.0 policy, the Board of Investment (BOI) has launched the SMART Visa program as of February 1, 2018. The program is designed to attract more science and technology experts, senior executives, investors and startup entrepreneurs to work or invest in Thailand in relation to the targeted industries. This article is to make a summary of the program and provide our preliminary observation


Targeted Industries

The SMART Visa is designed for the targeted industries as announced by BOI under the Thailand 4.0 policy, namely:

  • Next-Generation Automotive
  • Smart Electronics
  • Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism
  • Agriculture and Biotechnology
  • Food for the Future
  • Automation and Robotics
  • Aviation and Logistics
  • Biofuels and Biochemicals
  • Digital
  • Medical Hub


Eligible People

There are 5 types of SMART Visa, applicable to different categories of persons respectively:

  • SMART “T”: Highly skilled technical professionals
  • SMART “I”: Investors
  • SMART “E”: Senior executives
  • SMART “S”: Foreign startup entrepreneurs
  • SMART “O”: Spouse and children of holders of the other types of SMART Visa



A SMART Visa offers the following privileges (compared with the non-immigrant visa) to the holder:

  • Longer term of stay: maximum 4 years for types T, I and E, and renewable for unlimited times, but not exceeding the remaining employment/service contract term; for type S, 1 year for the first term, and renewable for maximum 2 years for unlimited times
  • No work permit is required
  • Frequency for reporting to the Immigration Bureau is extended from every 90 days to every 1 year
  • No re-entry permit is required
  • Spouses and children are allowed to stay and work in Thailand without the work permit




  1. Science and technology experts
  2. Salary ≥ 200,000 baht/month
  3. Employment contract or service contract in Thailand with remaining validity term ≥ 1 year
  4. Employing companies being in the targeted industries


  1. High-level executives such as Chairman or Managing Director
  2. Holder of Bachelor’s degrees or higher with work experience ≥ 10 years
  3. Salary ≥ 200,000 baht/month
  4. Employment contract or service contract in Thailand with remaining validity term ≥ 1 year
  5. Working for companies using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and being in the targeted industries


  1. Minimum direct investment of 20 million baht
  2. Investing in companies using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and being in the targeted industries


  1.  Fixed deposit of ≥ 600,000 baht with the remaining maturity term ≥ 1 year
  2. Health insurance
  3. Participating in an endorsed incubation, accelerator program or a similar program/or obtaining joint venture with or being endorsed by a relevant Thai government agency
  4. Must set up a company in the targeted industries in Thailand within 1 year with at least 25% ownership or being a board member

Application Procedures

The procedures will take four steps:

  1. The applicant may submit application documents to the One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit (OSS) in Bangkok or the local Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate General
  2. OSS coordinates with other competent Thai government agencies to verify the qualifications; 
  3. Once verification is passed, BOI will issue an endorsement letter;
  4. The applicant can use the endorsement letter to apply for the SMART Visa from OSS or the local Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate General. 

The entire process for the qualification endorsement will take 30 working days from OSS’s receipt of complete documents. 

The applicant may convert a non-immigrant visa to a SMART Visa or renew a SMART Visa at OSS.  The conversion and renewal will follow the same requirements and procedures as those for the first-time application. 



The SMART Visa program is newly introduced to the market and there remain some deficiencies.  First, some qualifications are not clearly defined (e.g. who are “experts” and who are “high-level executives”), leaving broad discretion to the officials, which will cause uncertainty to the applicants when planning their stay in Thailand.  Second, some conditions are too burdensome. For example, the requirement for fixed saving of 600,000 baht for at least 1 year may be unrealistic for startup entrepreneurs who are often short of cash.  Third, the relatively long list of documents for the applications and the lengthy timeframe for processing make deter attempts for application. 



The SMART Visa offers a new option for high-quality foreigners to stay and work in Thailand more stably.  Having said that, there is still room for improvement.  In response to our consultation, OSS officials admitted that since the launch of the program in February 2018, no any application has been submitted yet, and that they are considering modifications in order to incentivize applications.  Juslaws will keep close follow-up on the modifications if any and post updates accordingly.

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