Business Group Calls for 5-Year Professional Visas for Expats

Numerous expats work at a cafe at the Thailand Creative & Design Center in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — An umbrella trade group wants Thailand to offer a new type of visa for highly skilled professionals in order to attract talented foreigners.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking said Tuesday it will submit a proposal for such five-year visas to the military government later this month at a joint meeting with government agencies.

Thai Chamber of Commerce Chairman Isara Vongkusolkij believes the scheme would boost the private sector and help increase the country’s per capita income as there would be a trickle-down effect as skills are transferred to local workers. The most-needed groups are young professionals in research and IT, he said.

Expats obtaining the visa would be expected to work in Thailand at least five years and possibly be eligible for permanent residency status in the future, Isara said.


“We will need detailed background checks from their countries of origin,” Isara told Prachachat, anticipating push-back to the idea. “Now we give visas case by case, which takes time to issue, and the time permitted to stay is short, which is why Thailand doesn’t have many talented researchers and academics.”


The joint committee representing industry, trade and finance trade groups is now developing a plan for such visas together with Thailand Development Research Institute.

The goal is to increase average incomes over the next five years.

The topic will be raised at a March 18 session with the government economic committee tasked with addressing economic issues. That committee is presided over by junta chairman Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.