Update on Thailand’s new visa and work permit programmes for expatriates
The Thai government has been developing a new long-term resident visa programme as part of an effort to improve the country’s position as a hub for skilled professionals, and a residence destination for high net-worth individuals. The programme is expected to comprise four new classes of long-term resident visas: (1) professionals living in Thailand but working for an overseas employer, (2) highly skilled professionals employed in Thailand, (3) high net-worth persons, and (4) high net-worth retirees.
We understand that the Thai Cabinet has recently approved the proposed programme. Details of the programme are now being vetted by relevant government agencies for finalisation. It remains to be seen how quickly the government can roll out these new long-term resident visas, as complexities are likely to arise in the implementation process.
For instance, when the BOI hosted a public hearing on the programme, representatives from the foreign chambers raised concerns surrounding the treatment of personal income tax for foreign professionals, as well as the implications for corporate income tax among foreign corporations employing professionals who are based in Thailand. We understand that the Thai Revenue Department will be involved in reviewing these tax issues prior to the programme’s finalisation.
In another development, the Thai government is also considering changes to the current expatriate work permit and business visa regime. The minimum capital requirements for expatriate work permit sponsorship, as well as the strict adherence to a Thai-to-foreign-employee headcount ratio (presently 4 Thai employees per 1 expatriate), are seen as overly burdensome to businesses when it comes to acquiring and fostering talent.
Talks are underway on either reducing the headcount requirement to a one-to-one ratio (1 Thai employee per 1 expatriate), or to develop more qualitative requirements for the employment of Thai nationals. Considering that the policy was meant to encourage businesses to co-develop local talent whilst recruiting foreign personnel, the government will review the existing requirements to better align them with such goals.
About the author
Tanva Mahitivanichcha is the lead tax partner at Grant Thornton Thailand. He presently serves as the Foreign Chamber Alliance’s representative before the Thai government’s Regulatory Guillotine Sub-Committee and a member of the Board of Directors for AustCham Thailand.