Younger Chinese expats the main applicants for Elite Visa

PHOTO: Young wealthy Chinese expats are applying for the Elite Visa in droves. (via Mashable)

Thailand’s Elite Visa set its sights on attracting wealthy people to stay long-term in the kingdom. Chinese expats are taking the most advantage of it, but officials are surprised to see the average age of those applying for the long-term visa is dropping.

About 20,000 Elite Visas have been approved so far to allow people to stay long-term in Thailand, with 7,350 have been from Chinese nationals, according to Nation Thailand. In the past, long-term visas were most popular for expats over 50 years old. But the average age of the new Elite Visa applicants from China has fallen to under 40.

The president of Thai Jiaranai Group, the official seller of the Thai Elite Visa Programme in China, spoke about it recently at a reception party for Elite Visa holders. He said in the past five years, the amount of Chinese expats being approved for these Elite Visas has multiplied.

He pointed at the falling age of the average applicant as evidence that young wealthy Chinese people are big fans of Thailand. The president said that Thailand is popular among the Chinese because of its tropical environment and delicious food, as well as its central location handy for businesspeople. Expats are enticed by not having to renew stamps or visas all the time with the Elite Visa allowing them to stay long-term without hassle.

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But, with many recent reports of Chinese criminals being rounded up in Thailand, many fear the Elite Visa is a convenient way for nefarious people to make Thailand their long-term hideout. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reassures that they vet every applicant to make sure their income is earned legitimately and that they bring benefit to the Thai economy. They say that in the last 20 years of different Elite Visa programmes, no one holding that visa has been arrested for serious crimes.

The Thailand Elite Residence Programme grants hassle-free visas for a premium fee, allowing people to stay between five and 20 years. People can qualify under four different categories the government has deemed a benefit to Thailand and a big contribution to the local economy.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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