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What it IsThe SMART Visa Program is a reflection of Thailand’s efforts to attract a variety of experts, senior managers, and investors to either work or invest in tech companies in Thailand. By doing so, Thailand hopes to develop the following ten industries:
- Next-Gen Automotive
- Affluent Medical and Wellness Tourism
- Food for the Future
- Agriculture and Biotech
- Medical Hub
- Aviation and Logistics
- Automation and Robotics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Smart Electronics
Who it’s ForThe SMART Visa is open to foreign experts and investors who fall into one of the four SMART Visa categories. And there are no restrictions on location to qualify. Whether you live in Thailand or abroad, you can apply for the SMART Visa.
Smart Talent VisaThe four-year SMART T Visa is available to science and technology experts who earn 200,000 baht per month and are employed by in one of the ten targeted industries.
Smart Investor VisaThe four-year SMART I Visa is available to investors who make a direct investment of 20 million baht into companies that use technology in their manufacturing process or deliver services. These companies also must be in one of the ten targeted industries.
Smart Executive VisaThe four-year SMART E Visa is available to senior managers that have at least a Bachelor’s degree, ten years work experience, and are earning a minimum of 200,000 baht per month. Similar to the SMART T and I Visas, senior managers must be employed by companies in one of the ten targeted industries.
Smart Startup VisaThe one- to two-year SMART S Visa is for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Thailand. To be eligible for this visa, you must deposit 600,000 baht in Thailand, have health insurance, and set up a company in one of the ten targeted industries within your first year. Looking for more? Read our in-depth guide to all Thailand visas.
BenefitsEach of these four SMART Visas come with a list of benefits, such as one-year check-ins at immigration (instead of ninety days), work eligibility for spouses and children without the need of work permits, and no re-entry permits. For a full list of benefits, check out the Thailand Board of Investment’s page on SMART Visas.
Where and How to ApplyThere are four steps to applying for and extending the SMART Visa. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the SMART Visa and whether the benefits outweigh the challenges or not. Ozzi Jarvinen, co-founder of Iglu, a company that hires freelance foreigners, bills their clients, and in return gets freelancers work permits and relevant visas, had this to say:
The process looks very complicated and bureaucratic. [But] we welcome this new possibility to get the four-year visa with no ninety-day notifications or re-entry permits, as that part would make our work easier…We have a lot of people in-house who would be eligible.”But when it comes to visa processes in Thailand, it’s hard to imagine there ever being as time when applying for and renewing or extending wasn’t complicated. As with most challenges of living and working in Thailand, the short-term bureaucratic hassles are usually offset by the long-term ability to live and work in Thai society.