In a bid to woo foreign investors, and to give Thailand a much-needed economic boost particularly in the “recreational and tourism” sectors, the Deputy Secretary-General of the
Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), Mr. Danucha Pichayanan publicly announced on September 16, 2020 that they’ve approved several amendments (in principal) to the criteria for granting foreigners “permanent residence” and “Smart Visa” status, which I’m sure you’ll all agree is extremely encouraging. (sourced from The Nation Thailand September 18, 2020) CESA, has advised the Thai Government to consider granting “permanent residence” status to foreigners if they purchase a condominium in Thailand subject to the following conditions:
- The purchase must be mortgage free, so essentially a foreigner must purchase the condominium for “cash”, which is a pretty common occurrence here in Thailand anyway as most foreigners (without a work permit) can’t qualify for a mortgage through a Thai banking institution anyway.
- The foreigner must maintain ownership of the condominium for a minimum period of 5 Years.
The article sourced from “The Nation” omitted to mention whether the CESA had stipulated that the condominium purchase should exceed a certain Thai Baht cash amount, so it’s still very much early days as more information from the CESA will most likely follow over the next few weeks and months.
Also, as a foreigner one currently needs to reside in Thailand for a minimum period of 5 Years with five back to back, One Year Visas and to pass both a written and oral Thai examination to qualify for “permanent residence”, so it’s still unclear as to whether or not the CESA will recommend that the Thai written and oral exam be dropped as a precursor for “permanent residence” in favour of simply purchasing a condominium in Thailand.
Whereas the existing “Smart Visa” which was formally launched back in February 1, 2018 is primarily centred around attracting highly skilled foreigners in key targeted industries such as the “automotive”, “medical”, “bio-tech”, “renewable energies” and “robotics” sectors with the qualifying applicant being awarded a maximum 4 Year permission to stay Visa and being exempted from the needing a valid work permit.
However based on the online chat forum on Thai Visa it seems that the number of foreigners who choose to pursue this highly specialised type of Visa has been very disappointing, which may explain why CESA has at least agreed in principal to broaden the Smart Visa criteria to that of startup entrepreneurs in non-science and technology fields and in some cases (sourced by The Nation Thailand, September 16, 2020) the CESA has agreed in principal to relax the work criteria and educational background of high raking executives and allow the holders of Smart Visas to do other jobs beside the one specified on the Smart Visa.
In summary, the amendments announced in principal by Mr. Danucha Pichayanan of the CESA represents a huge step forward for Thai-foreign relations, and should the Thai Government ever formally enact these amendments, I’m confident that it will go a long way towards attracting many more foreigners to the “Land of Smiles”, and perhaps more importantly for those of us, who are currently lucky enough to already reside in Thailand on a One Year Visa (which need to be renewed on an annual basis) a possible route towards achieving “permanent residence” status.