Measures aimed at attracting wealthy long-stay foreigners to Thailand have been approved in principle by Cabinet. Seems to be a bit of deja vu, but the government says it’s targeting foreign investors, highly-skilled professionals and wealthy retirees in a bid to develop the Covid-battered economy. Long-term residence visas of up to 10 years are on offer, along with work permits for those who qualify.A government spokesperson explains that while the visa issued to qualifying people will be a 10-year visa, it must be extended after year 5. The extension will be good for another 5 years only. Foreign nationals who believe they meet the eligibility criteria must first apply for a “qualification certificate” and provide documentation and evidence of their status. Applications for a qualification certificate can be made through the Thai Board of Investment or at any Thai embassy or consulate.
Once granted the certificate, foreign nationals can then apply for the long-term residence visa for both themselves and their spouse. The visa costs 10,000 baht per year, per person and holders will still need to report their residence to the authorities – but only once a year, instead of every 90 days like most of us.More details about this story at thethaiger.comAs infections continue to decline in Thailand, the government meets tomorrow to discuss the easing of a number of restrictions. The CCSA is also expected to lower the country’s Covid alert, from Level 4 to 3. It was raised earlier this month amid concerns over the highly-contagious Omicron variant. The move followed the suspension of the Test & Go entry program, but that could potentially make a comeback as early as next month.Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the government is considering relaxing some measures and potentially expanding Thailand’s sandbox program to other destinations beyond the four southern sandbox destinations currently available… Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, and Koh Samui. The public health minister says it could be expanded to Chiang Mai and Chon Buri, as well as the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen and the central province of Samut Prakan, just south east of Bangkok.Regarding bars and nightclubs, Anutin was less enthusiastic, insisting they remain shuttered for the time being.The Thai government and Southern separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional still stand apart on several important issues related to the ongoing southern insurgency and related border matters. The two parties met last week in the first peace talks in two years. Reports say the BRN wishes to establish an autonomous region known as Patani Darussalam, which includes Thailand’s Deep South provinces near the Malaysian border of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and Songkhla.In this region, the BRN seeks an Islamic education system taught in the Malay language. Thai authorities say they won’t agree to autonomy and have stated that instead, they would consider adopting Malay as a second language.The conflict between the Thai government, and the Patani Malay people in Southern Thailand, has existed since 1909, when Patani formally became part of Thailand. The Patani Malay people are primarily Muslims, while Thailand’s majority are Buddhists. This, along with their different language (Malay) and culture, has created tensions, ongoing violence especially over the past 25 years, and over 7,000 insurgency-related deaths.Plans to expand Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport will kick off in July, according to Transport Minister. The so-called East Expansion project is expected to take around 2 and a half years to complete, at a cost of 7.8 billion baht. The project will begin in July with a bidding process to appoint a contractor.The plans have already been approved by Cabinet, Airports of Thailand, and a government committee on capacity enhancement at Suvarnabhumi. Once complete and opened in March 2025, the newly expanded area will mean Suvarnabhumi can handle up to 65 million passengers a year.Current capacity is at 45 million. The minister says the 44% increase corresponds with predictions for passenger numbers in 2025.The International Air Transport Association predicts that by 2024, Suvarnabhumi will be handling 65 million passengers a year, similar figures to those recorded before the Covid pandemic slowed passenger arrivals to a crawl.Chinese New Year is expected to be celebrated on February 1 to welcome the Year of the Tiger. But with the raising Covid-19 infection rate, especially around Bangkok, the big, noisy Chinese New Year events along Yaowarat Road, also known as Chinatown, is cancelled again this year. The Royal Jubilee Gate, or Odeon Gate, will still be decorated, and people are allowed to visit Chinese shrines, worship, and pay respect to their ancestors as normal.This year, the street will still be decorated and open to visitors, but there will be no events and large ceremonies. The shrines will still be open for visitors under the Covid-19 prevention measures.Phuket has also cancelled its Chinese New Year event from February 4 to 6 due to the cases that are increasing with 383 new Covid cases reported today. Another famous Chinese New Year event in Nakhon Sawan is still on from January 25 to February 5.One thing that will be missing in any of this year’s year’s celebrations is Chinese visitors… they’re still largely banned from travel out of China.You take your PCR test after your stay in Thailand, before you return home to the UK. You test positive and are confined in a Bangkok hospital for 10 days. Then, to add insult to injury, you’re fined 4,000 baht for overstaying your visa when you go through immigration… purely because you were confined in hospital in the days after your visa had expired.This is the sad tale, one of many, when the Test & Go program didn’t quite go to plan. Quite a high percentage of visitors from overseas have been found to test positive after their compulsory PCR tests (certainly in places like Phuket during late December and January), leaving them to an uncertain 10 days of quarantine in a hospital, ‘hospitel’, field hospital or, if they’re lucky, confined to their hotel or place of residence.A gentleman, we’ll call CM, sent The Thaiger this message….“My recent experience… On 3rd January I tested positive for covid when I took a PCR test for a return flight to the UK, I was incarcerated in a hospital room for 10 days even though I was asymptomatic. Upon release I left the country the next day but because my visa expired on 5th January I was fined 4000 baht by Immigration at the airport for overstaying. I wasn’t the only one being fined for overstaying due to quarantine incarceration, crazy Thailand.”The Thaiger also has a copy of his hospital bill from the BangPo Hospital in Bangkok and a receipt of his overstay fine from immigration at Suvarnabhumi Airport.CM has already written a formal letter of complaint to the Royal Thai Embassy in London.
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