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BOI confident “SMART Visa” to support targeted industries and attract more experts, executives, and investors

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) is confident that the newly launched “SMART Visa” will encourage more investment in technology- and knowledge-based industries, which have seen high growth rate in the past two years. The “SMART Visa” will make it easier for expatriate, foreign experts and investors to work and invest in Thailand long-term.

Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI’s Secretary General, has expressed confidence that the brand new visa category, SMART Visa, approved by the Cabinet on 16 January 2018 would be a key driver in promoting investment in the 10 targeted industries as well as in facilitating the country’s development towards its ambitious Thailand 4.0 goals.

“In attracting more foreign investment, in addition to investment promotion incentives, facilitation to increase convenience for investors to do business in Thailand is very important,” Ms. Asawachintachit said. “In recent years, the Thai government has improved its services, resulting in the improvement of the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report from 46th to 26th. The SMART Visa will increase convenience in facilitating
investors doing business in Thailand.”

The SMART Visa is a new visa category issued to foreigners working or investing in technology-based production activities and services as well as in the 10 targeted (S-Curve) industries: namely next-generation automotive; smart electronics; affluent medical and wellness tourism; agricultural and biotechnology; food for the future; automation and robotics; aerospace; biofuels and biochemical; digital economy and medical hub.

According to Ms. Asawachintachit, the SMART Visa comprises four categories: 1) Talents in science and technology; 2) Investors; 3) Executives; and 4) Startup entrepreneurs. Applicants will need to have the qualifications required according to pre-set criteria and be certified by the concerned government agencies. They include certification for their expertise or talents, certification of being part of the targeted industries and using technology in the production process or service, as well as certification for participation in startup incubator programs. The government agencies responsible for certifying these qualifications include the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA).

“In the past two years, investment in the targeted industries has shown strong growth. In 2016, investment value in the targeted industries was approximately 299 billion baht and increased to 392 billion baht in 2017. BOI anticipated that investment from targeted industries will exceed 400 billion baht in 2018.” she said.

The SMART Visa will also function as a Work Permit and the holder will receive various significant benefits. First, SMART Visa holders can stay in the country for up to four years. Second, they can report to the Immigration Department on a yearly basis instead of every 90 days as at present. Third, they can depart from and re-enter into the country without applying for re-entry permits. Fourth, they can contact the One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit (OSS) at Chamchuri Square for their SMART Visa applications. In addition, SMART Visa holders’ family members will also enjoy similar benefits.

The SMART Visa promotes knowledge transfer and skill development

Ms. Asawachintachit added that high-skilled expats eligible for SMART Visa will include high-level executives or professionals with special expertise. By having these professionals long-term in the country, Thailand can benefit from the transfer of knowledge and the skill development of Thai labor, especially in areas where Thailand lacks specific skill sets and knowledge. The SMART Visa will therefore increase convenience for expats and
promote the development of Thai human resource at the same time.