Thailand has extended the stay of visa holding foreign investors to up to four years. This piece of news was cheered by foreign investors, who, however, felt that the move was a minor one and have requested the government to hasten an online one-stop service’s implementation.
Stanley Kang, chairman of the JFCCT (Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand), said on 19 August that though they were satisfied with the government’s latest step to invite foreign investment into Thailand, he said that foreigners wanted the government of Thailand to come up with an electronic solution.
The government had announced on 18 August a plan to unveil four-year free visa grants for certain experts and investors who get an approval from the BOT (Board of Investment of Thailand). The foreign investors have said to been requesting the government of this Southeast Asian country to provide them an easier way to obtain work permits and allow them to stay there longer.
Kang was quoted by The Nation as saying that the establishment of an e-government platform for visas would make things easier for those investing in Thailand or trading there.
He added that the government should consider doing away with immigration forms, as all processes, including passport and ID cards, have been digitised.
While visitors to Vietnam and Malaysia are not required to fill in immigration forms when they enter those countries, the fact that Thai immigration is still asking travellers to complete paper forms was not encouraging, said Kang.
Marc Spiegel, former vice chairman of JFCCT, also welcomed the latest move of the Thai government by saying that it was a positive step, but said that they had not yet seen the details.
Rolf-Dieter Daniel, president of European Association for Business and Commerce, said that this step was applicable only to a restricted number of technicians and foreigners who invest in specified industries.
He, however, said that it was not too liberalising, as it would not attract much more investment.
Ampon Kittiampon, director for the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, stated that three categories of foreigners would get visas to stay longer, without the requirement of work permits.
The first beneficiary group would be experts such as researchers, medical personnel and aviation engineers who would be applying to work at Eastern Economic Corridor
projects. These people would be granted a four-year visa-free stay. Their spouses and children could also accompany them to stay for up to four years. These people would be required to report to the immigration office once a year as opposed to once every three months currently.
Included in the second group were investors who would receive investment privileges from the BOI and invest in 10 select high-tech industries. Investors in this group would receive visa terms varying from two to four years, which would be based on the industries they are investing in. These select industries are in the cutting-edge fields such as smart electronics, efficient agriculture, automotive, medical tourism and high-income tourism, besides aerospace, biochemical, bio-energy, biotechnology, food innovation, medical and healthcare, robotics and digital
The third group encompasses people investing in start-ups. They would obtain visas varying from two to four years based on the technologies they would be investing in. This measure is slated to be implemented by the government in January 2018.
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