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Thailand News Today | New “digital nomad” visa gets cheaper

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Thailand’s Cabinet has agreed to reduce the Long Term Resident visa fee by 50% to attract highly skilled foreigners into the kingdom. The fee for the LTR visa, which allows you to stay in Thailand for 10 years, has been reduced from ฿100,000 to ฿50,000.

Changes to the visa requirements could make the lucrative “digital nomad” lifestyle a more realistic option for foreigners who wish to work remotely in the kingdom as well.

Yesterday, the Spokesperson for Prime Minister Ratchada Thanadirek revealed that the Cabinet agreed to make changes to the LTR visa. She said highly skilled foreigners could apply for the visa and pay a one-time fee of ฿50,000 to stay in Thailand for 10 years. Ratchada said the change would come into effect 90 days after the announcement in the Royal Gazette.

The Cabinet hopes that the changes will draw in more foreign investment and boost the economy.

So who is eligible to apply for the LRT visa?

Ratchada said the potential LTR visa applications could include wealthy foreigners, retired foreigners, foreigners with “special skills” and their families, including their spouses and no more than 4 children under 20 years old). LTR visa holders can apply for work permits.

Notably, the spokesperson said that foreigners who wish to work remotely in the kingdom could apply for a visa. Working remotely from your laptop while you drink a Mai Tai on the beach is a pipedream for many foreign freelancers who can’t find a Thai visa to support their desired “digital nomad” lifestyle. An LTR visa provides remote workers with a legal route to live and work in Thailand.

And what are the requirements?

To apply, the applicant must buy health insurance covering at least US$50,000 to cover medical fees for at least the first 10 months of their stay in the kingdom OR a social security certificate covering medical expenses OR a cash deposit of at least US$100,000 in a domestic or foreign bank account for 12 months before applying for the visa.

Those going for the “high-income” designation must have an annual income of US$80,000 for two years before applying.

Those wanting to qualify as “Foreign specialists” must obtain an employment contract from a business in Thailand OR abroad. They are required to produce evidence that they have worked in the “targeted industries” for at least 5 years.

Exceptions can be made for foreigners working in Thai universities, government research institutes, and specified training institutes, or those who have a Ph.D.

The spokesperson added that Thailand aims to have up to one million foreigners staying in the country in the next five years. She said this could bring income up to 800 billion baht in foreign investment.

———

After much drama and anxiety over announcements that Thailand’s diesel price could eventually jump to 40 baht per litre, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced yesterday that the government will likely extend its subsidy programme that is due to end on May 20.

The current subsidy has helped keep the price at about 32 baht per litre, even though the actual retail price is now 40 baht per litre. Last month, Thailand’s Energy Permanent Secretary said the new ceiling price for diesel would be set at 35 baht per litre. He said the Fuel Fund Executive Committee would consider when the price would be further increased by one baht per litre up to the 35 baht per litre ceiling.

Prayut says that lowering the excise tax per litre on diesel by 3 baht has cost the government about 17 billion baht in revenue in total. He added that the Finance Ministry will forward a proposal about the subsidy to the cabinet for consideration on May 17.

But raising the price cap from 30 baht per litre to 32 baht has already brought about outrage in Thailand. Last month, angry truck drivers rallied in front of the Government House in Bangkok to demand that the price cap continues for the current Energy Minister to be removed.

The truckers called for removing biodiesel from the system, which would help reduce the price by 1.5-2 baht per litre, as biodiesel prices are as high as 56.4 baht per litre.

———-

The Thai PM has ordered all provincial administrations to prepare for Covid-19 being declared endemic, by creating operation plans for their own provinces.

According to the government spokesman, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the PM’s order follows the decision to downgrade Thailand’s Covid-19 alert level from 4 to Level 3.

Nation Thailand reports that the downgrade in alert levels comes as the number of Covid patients on ventilators begins to fall, along with the number of Covid-related deaths. Currently, the Covid situation has plateaued in 23 provinces, while infections are falling in 53 provinces.

Despite the improving situation, the PM says the public must continue to adhere to disease prevention measures and those who are still not vaccinated should come forward for inoculation as soon as possible so that Covid can be declared endemic.

According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand reported 6,230 new cases yesterday, just 4 of which were imported. The country also reported 53 deaths in the same 24-hour period. There are currently 1,481 Covid-19 patients on ventilators and 18.5%% of the country’s Covid beds are occupied.

———

Thailand’s cabinet has approved new wages for construction workers, industrial arts workers, and service workers. The new wages are expected to come into effect 90 days after the announcement was made on Tuesday.

In the construction industry, tilers, painters, draughtsmen, and board installation workers will earn between 465 and 650 a day depending on their skill level.

In the industrial arts industry decorative item and furniture assembly workers will earn between 430 to 650 a day.

In the service industry, bakers, hairdressers, and waiters will earn between 400 baht to 650 baht per day.

Meanwhile, the Thai government is currently considering increasing the country’s overall minimum wage to 492 baht a day. There has not been an increase since December 2019, when the rate for unskilled workers rose from between 308 and 330 baht to between 313 and 336 baht.

But Thai employers are still stingy about the proposed wage. Thailand’s Federation of Thai Industries says if a proposal to increase the minimum wage to 492 baht goes ahead, it will have a severe impact on such firms. Last month, representatives from more than 40 employer associations met with the labour minister to push back against the proposal.

———

As the entire Thai military gets triggered over a video on the internet, parents at one kindergarten are wondering why the school is forcing their children to wear military uniforms.

A Thai kindergarten has been slammed online for forcing students to wear 4 different uniforms, including a “military uniform” on Thursdays. The public school in the western province of Kanchanaburi informed parents they must purchase the new uniforms before the new term begins on May 17.

The preschool wants children aged 4 – 6 to wear 4 different uniforms: a ‘normal’ school uniform on Monday and Tuesday, a PE uniform on Wednesday, a soldier uniform on Thursday, and an “ASEAN” uniform on Friday, which sports an ASEAN flag.

The school posted an announcement about the uniform changes on Facebook, which gained a lot of attention from concerned netizens who expressed their dissatisfaction about the costs involved with buying 4 new sets of uniforms, especially in light of the current high costs of living.

Netizens in the comments section were mostly concerned about Thursday’s military uniform. Comments include:

“What is the point of the soldier uniform?”

“Are we living in North Korea?”

Although, getting children interested in the military is nothing new in Thailand. Every year on “Children’s Day,” it is normal for parents to take their children to military and air force shows to pose for photos in front of military tanks and artillery.

Military-related Children’s Day activities have historically been widely accepted, but have been questioned by political activists in recent times. Political artist Headache Stencil held an exhibition in Bangkok in 2020 entitled “Propaganda Children’s Day,” which featured a huge sculpture of a military tank covered in graffiti. The artist said the exhibition was designed to question the motives surrounding military-related Children’s Day activities, which he criticised as propaganda to encourage Thai children to join the army when they get older.

The school responded to the criticism by saying the purpose of the military uniform is for a military style activity called “Land Protection Army,” …. For kindergarten students….in 2022….

Since facing criticism, the school is discussing whether to cancel Friday’s ASEAN uniform as a way to help parents save money. I guess for them, promoting ASEAN is not as important as the Thai military. They also offered to pay half of the costs for parents who needed financial assistance to help reduce the burden of expenses.

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