The cabinet has greenlighted an economic stimulus and investment promotion package aimed at attracting wealthy foreigners and highly skilled professionals from overseas to help revive the economy post-COVID-19.
Benefits in the package include a 10-year Thai visa for not only approved special visitors but also their spouses and children, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, on Tuesday.
The package also includes automatic work permits, the same rates of income tax as Thai citizens, tax exemption for income earned abroad, and ownership of properties and land, he said.
Mr Wangboonkongchana said that the right to choose to pay a fixed rate of income tax at 17% within the package is being offered but only to foreign experts contributing to the development of the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.
The government expects to attract more than a million qualified people to Thailand in the next five years, beginning next year, he said.
“The government also expects these foreigners to spend on average a million baht per person per year while staying and working in Thailand, or about a trillion baht in the next five years in total,” Mr Wangboonkongchana said.
About 800 billion baht is also expected from the money invested by about 90,000 foreigners as required in the application forms for these long-term visas, he said.
Another 270 billion baht is also expected to be derived from taxes paid by these foreigners: 180 billion baht from income tax, 70 billion baht from value-added tax and 22 billion baht from taxes related to their investments, he said.
The government has four targeted groups for this long-term visa scheme with the first group being wealthy global citizens who travel frequently and have assets in several countries, he said.
To obtain a long-term Thai visa, this group would be required to invest at least US$500,000 (16.5 million baht) in Thai government bonds in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) or in real estate, he said.
The minimum income required for this group is US$80,000 per year for the past two years, while the required minimum value of assets owned is US$1 million and the minimum health insurance coverage required is US$100,000, he said.
The second target group are wealthy pensioners who are at least 50 years of age with sufficient pensions to cover their costs of living in Thailand, he said.
The people in this group are required to invest at least US$250,000 in Thai government bonds in the FDI format or in real estate, he said, adding that the minimum income required for the group is US$40,000 per person per year.
The minimum health insurance package required for this group is also US$100,000 coverage per person, he said.
The third group are the so-called work-from-Thailand professionals who are interested in living in Thailand while working remotely for their employers in other countries, he said.
The people in this third group are expected to be digital nomads and employees of large organisations who are close to retirement, he said.
The fourth and last group of foreigners expected to be interested in this long-term visa programme are highly skilled professionals who may want to come to Thailand to either work as experts in the government’s target industries, Mr Wangboonkongchana said.
Highly skilled professionals who would work as university lecturers teaching subjects related to industries of importance are also within this group, he said.
They are required to have at least five years of work experience, earn at least US$40,000 per year and hold a health insurance policy with a coverage value of US$100,000, he said.
The Board of Investment of Thailand has been assigned to set up a new centre to specifically serve this long-term visa programme, Mr Wangboonkongchana added.