New Smart Visa rules in the works for digital nomads in Thailand

Digital nomads in Thailand might soon be able to apply for the Smart Visa, allowing an up to 4 years stay without a work permit. The Board of Investment, or BOI, is proposing changes to the visa requirements to allow foreign freelancers to apply for the Smart Visa. The rules have already been approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The next step is Cabinet approval.

It’s really good news for foreign freelancers who have needed to get creative when it comes to legally staying in the country. Before the pandemic, many did border runs every few months, going from tourist visa to tourist visa. Now that borders are closed, some are on tourist visas that have been extended in the country due to the pandemic. Others are on volunteer visas. Some have even paid thousands of baht and signed up for classes just to get on an education visa to stay in the country.

Under the proposal by the BOI, those currently in Thailand on a tourist visa would be able to transfer to a Smart Visa. To apply for the visa, applicants need to have an employment contract with a foreign firm for at least 6 months as well as proof of qualifications and experience.

BOI deputy secretary general Narit Therdsteerasukdi says opening the Smart Visa to foreign freelancers will draw in more talent from overseas.

“The influx of talent will create a talent pool in the country.”

The Smart Visa was launched in February 2018 and was “designed to enhance Thailand’s attractiveness in drawing science and technology experts, senior executives, investors and startups.” Since then, only 514 foreigners have been granted the Smart Visa.

Along with allowing foreign freelancers to apply, the BOI also wants to loosen requirements to allow more executives, investors and startup entrepreneurs as well as science and technology experts to apply.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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