Want to Stay in Thailand Long-Term? Consider a Thai Investment Visa
Visas in Thailand are something that regularly gets debated and is something that often causes quite a lot of confusion, not to mention stress. There are number of reasons for, firstly the rules frequently change and secondly many people are unaware of the rules in the first place and often pass on inaccurate information. On top of that, visas such as the long-term investment visa often get completely overlooked and are never really considered when often it would be the best option available.
The Foreign Business Act (FBA) is another area that frequently gets misunderstood and the fact that there have been a number of crackdowns in recent years, not least with regards to preferential shares and the fact that they can be used and abused in a similar manner to nominee shareholders – something that is illegal. It should be noted that the FBA does not expressly prohibit the use of preferential shares as means of allowing foreigners to control Thai businesses, however, it is perhaps not in the spirit of the law.
This is where the Thai Investment Visa becomes a very viable alternative and option. The visa was introduced at a time when there was a noticeable clampdown on ‘visa runners’ – those stay in Thailand on Tourist Visas and leaving the country every 30 days. The main purpose of the Investment Visa, as the name would suggest, is to attract wealthy and retired and semi-retired to invest in Thailand or retire in Thailand.
Something along these lines is ideal for those who are not actually working in the Kingdom but have assets there. For instance, they may own a condominium unit or they may have a business interest. Previously, there had been no guarantee that this meant that these individuals could stay of more than 30, 60 or 90 days at any one time. This meant that theoretically it wouldn’t be possible to stay there long term so obviously, this needed to be addressed.
The Thai Investment Visa allows individuals to stay in the country for one-year if they have invested more than THB10 million in the country. You can apply for the visa when you are in Thailand, so long as you are in possession of a non-immigrant (Tourist) visa. The usual 90-day reporting is still required, however, this is a very straightforward process and one that doesn’t necessarily need to be done in person. It should also be noted that visa holders are NOT permitted to earn a wage in Thailand.
Of course, one of the most popular reasons for choosing a Thai Investment Visa is because you are interested buying property. There are three definitions of “investment” when it comes to visa eligibility and these are:
- To purchase a condominium in either freehold or leasehold with the intention of keeping it for more than 3 years, to the value of THB10 million (Technically you could pay annual rent of THB10 million and this would also be included)
- Hold THB10 million for more in a fixed deposit account issued by Thai bank that is majority Thai owned such as Bangkok Bank or Siam Commercial Bank
- The ownership of at least THB10 million worth of Thai government or Thai state enterprise bonds
It is possible to reach the THB10 million threshold by investing in a combination of the above. For instance, the condominium may have cost THB7 million but the individual has invested THB3 million in a fixed deposit account issued by Bangkok Bank.
The visa is only available to those people who have invested the above sums of money after 25 November 2008.
The above date is significant because the country had previously tried to introduce an investment visa after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The investment required at this time was THB3 million and the visa was phased out in October 2006.
The Thai Investment Visa can be renewed on an annual basis assuming that the individual still meets the criteria mentioned. There are no age limitations with the visa unlike the retirement visa, which requires individuals to be aged 50 years or over. This opens the door for younger investors to look at the opportunities that Thailand has to offer.
It is always wise to conduct your due diligence and make sure that you meet all the criteria for the visa and are likely to qualify prior to transferring any funds to Thailand. As a lot of documentation is required, we strongly advise employing the services of an immigration lawyer to assist.
Please Note: All the above information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without prior warning.