Will Thailand’s new residency visa achieve results?

05/02/2023 Webmaster 0 Comments

On 1 September 2022, Thailand introduced a new Long-Term Resident (LTR) visa program. The program offers a 10-year renewable visa and a range of tax and non-tax benefits to four distinct categories of foreigners. These are wealthy global citizens, wealthy pensioners, work-from-Thailand professionals and highly skilled professionals.

Thailand’s Board of Investment reckons the LTR program will attract wealthy, ‘high-potential’ and talented individuals, who in turn will stimulate economic growth, through innovation, investment and domestic spending. Thailand’s government has set a target of attracting one million foreigners into the program over the next five years.

This target seems overly optimistic. The LTR visa enters a highly competitive global industry of long-term and second-home visa programs because of its focus on attracting wealthy global citizens. But it is difficult to envisage why applicants would invest at least US$500,000 in Thai property or low-yield Thai government bonds to be approved for this visa if they are expected to hold US$1 million in assets.

Neighbouring Malaysia demonstrates the potential of this new visa policy to entice wealthy pensioners to Thailand. Since 2002, Malaysia’s My Second Home (MM2H) program has provided foreign retirees with a 10-year renewable visa to build a life in Malaysia. It is viewed as a success story in a global market of lifestyle-related visa options. Even so, between 2002 and 2017 the program attracted an average of only 2433 approved applicants per year.

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