New Visas Expected To Attract Europe’s Wealthy Citizens and Digital Nomads

The Thai government expects to receive applications for its 10-year golden visa scheme aimed at wealthy foreigners and digital nomads soon.

The plan, which specifically targets employees in the technology sectors and digital nomads or “work-from-Thailand professionals,” is estimated to contribute some 26 billion euros to the local economy over the next ten years.

Thai Board of Investment (BoI) Deputy Secretary General Narit Therdsteerasukdi told the media that recent projections indicate that at least half of long-term resident (LTR) visa applicants will be Europeans.

Authorities are confident that the LTR will attract significant interest among target groups in Europe since Thailand is a favorite destination among Europeans, he stated.

“The responses we got from the pre-launch campaign reflect strong interest. I anticipate the LTR will become even more popular after the launch,” Mr. Narit added.

The latest government reports showed that EU countries are the second largest investor in Thailand, only after Japan. The kingdom had 19.8 billion euros in outward stocks, which measure foreign direct investment (FDI) in companies located in foreign economies.

Thailand recently announced that it would start accepting applications for a new visa scheme on September 1.

The visas are intended for foreign workers, including highly skilled professionals, professionals working from Thailand, and wealthy global citizens.

As a basic requirement, all must have at least $1 million in assets and an annual income of $80,000. However, the rules change a bit between groups.

Visa applicants in the “highly-skilled professionals” category must work in a sector considered essential by the Thai government, while people in the “work-from-Thailand professionals” group must be employed by a company with at least $150 million in revenue for three years.

People applying for a visa in the “wealthy global citizens” category must invest at least $500,000 in the local economy, including property and bonds.

Previously, the Thai government launched the “Smart Visa” program and offered incentives to wealthy foreign investors in 2018. About 50% of the applicants were European, Mr. Narit added.

However, analysts believe that the Thai government is overly optimistic in its forecasts, as businessmen still want to see how the program develops and the Smart Visa scheme has only attracted 1,200 applicants since it was launched.

Thailand was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, granting LTR visas is expected to support its economic recovery.

Other Southeast Asian countries have considered similar visa schemes, including Cambodia, which recently launched a “My 2nd Home” program with incentives for foreign investors.