The Cabinet has approved for a Draft Notification of the Ministry of Interior Re: Permission for Certain Groups of Aliens to Remain in the Kingdom as a Special Case (“Draft Notification”) as proposed by the Royal Thai Police in order to assist the aliens extending their permission to stay in the Kingdom temporarily due to Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The groups of aliens permitted to extend their stay in the Kingdom under the Draft Notification are as follow:

five women sitting on tree trunk
  1. Aliens holding non-immigrant visa (include visa on arrival).
  2. Aliens allowed to stay in the Kingdom temporarily under the visa waiver program according to Section 13 of the Ministerial Regulations on Guidelines, Methods and Conditions for Examination, Exception and Change of Visa Type B.E. 2545 and its amendments.
  3. Aliens allowed to stay in the Kingdom temporarily under the Petroleum Act B.E. 2514 and its amendments, Investment Promotion Act B.E. 2520 and its amendments, Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act B.E. 2522 and its amendments or related notifications of the Ministry of Interior and that the period of permission for staying in the Kingdom will be expired on the date that this Draft Notification becomes enforced, such aliens will be allowed to extend their  period of remaining in the Kingdom until 31 December 2021.
  4. Aliens allowed to stay in the Kingdom more than 90 days and the notification for such 90 days period will be reached on the date that this Draft Notification becomes enforced, such aliens will be allowed to extend their notification until 31 December 2021.

The Cabinet has approved a Draft Ministerial Regulation on Waiver of Renewal Fee for Travel Agency Business License and License to be Tour Guide B.E. …. (“Ministerial Regulations”) proposed by Ministry of Tourism and Sports as tourism is one of the sectors most caused effected by Covid-19 pandemic and that the government would like to assist business operators and tour guides in reducing their expense in operating their businesses.

four boats on sea

The main issues of Draft Ministerial Regulation are as follow:

  1. Waiving of renewal fee for travel agency business license of 2,000 baht per time and renewal fee for travel agency business license (branch) of 1,000 Baht per time for 2 years from the date that this Ministerial Regulation become enforced.
  2. Waiving of renewal fee for license to be tour guide of 200 baht per time for 5 years from the date that this Ministerial Regulation become enforced.

On 19 October 2021, The Cabinet has approved in principle of the draft Notification of the Ministry of Interior regarding the Permission of Foreigners Granted Thailand Privilege Card to Stay in Thailand for Working as a Special Case (“Draft Notification”) and the draft Rules and Conditions for Allowing Foreigners Received Thailand Privilege Card to stay in Thailand for Working as a Special Case (“Draft Rules and Conditions”) as proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and considers this matter as an urgent matter.

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The main points of the 2 drafts are as follows:

  • Draft Notification
    1. The aliens who receive Thailand Privilege Card under the conditions as specified in  the Ministry of Interior’s Notification regarding permission of certain classes of aliens to stay in Thailand as a special case dated 22 February 2013 and have minimum investment of USD 1,000,000 per year, in a specified business, including their spouses and their under-20-year-old children, can request to change the type of visa to Non-Immigrant Visa for a term of 5 years throughout the investment period in the Flexible Plus Program.
    2. The aliens whom their types of visa have been changed as mentioned above, can apply for a work permit under the law on foreigners working management.
    3. The termination of the permission of aliens and their dependents to stay in Thailand according to this Draft Notification is under one of the following cases:
      • The minimum investment, in a specified business, does not reach USD 1,000,000 within one year from the date of entering into the program;
      • The work permit has been terminated under the law on foreigners working management; or
      • Such aliens have presumably into believing that their behavior that is danger to society, have been issued a warrant of arrest by a foreign government, being deported by the Thai government or foreign governments, or being revoked the right to stay in Thailand.
  • Draft Rules and Conditions
    1. Aliens must be a special member holding Thailand Privilege Card:
      • For the remaining members, Thailand Privilege Card must be validity at least 5 years; or
      • For the new members, they must apply for Thailand Privilege Card with a minimum card value of 1 million Baht and the validity of the card is for more than 10 years.
    2. An alien must receive a special Privilege Entry Visa (PE).
    3. An alien must invest in Thailand within 1 year from the date of requesting to join the Flexible Plus Program or from the date of approval to be a special member with a total investment value not less than USD 1,000,000 which consists of 3 types:
      • Investment in real estate according to the rights of foreigners;
      • Investment in a limited company or a public limited company; or
      • Investment in stock exchanges such as ordinary shares, debentures, or investment units which has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
    4. An alien must have all qualifications under the law on foreigners working management.

On 29 September 2021, the Cabinet has approved a draft Announcement of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Interior (MOI) regarding Limitation of Numbers of Alien Annually having residence in Thailand as proposed by MOI.

The aliens under nationality of each country having residence in Thailand of the year 2021 will be limited to not exceeding 100 persons per country and stateless aliens will be limited to not exceeding 50 persons.

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This Announcement is structured to be in accordance with Section 40 paragraph one and Section 41 of the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979) and Section 5 paragraph one of the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended by the National Council for Peace and Order Announcement No. 87/2557 dated 10 July 2014.

The Cabinet has approved in principle for the amendment of requirements in obtaining the Non-Immigrant Visa Category O-A and its renewal on the part of insurance.

The relevant authorities which are the Immigration Bureau, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will require to revise their required conditions for obtaining such Non-Immigrant Visa Category O-A and its renewal as there are problems in regard to the current requirements as follows:

  1. Foreigners who are at the age of more than 70 years old cannot purchase an insurance in Thailand resulting in an inability to apply for an extension.
  2. Forms for purchasing of insurances  in foreign countries do not align with the insurance and other funds’ benefits.
  3. Those applying for the extension of their stays wish to use insurances from abroad.        
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Hence, the new requirements for purchasing of insurance are as detailed below.

Current RequirementsNew Requirements
The purchase of Thai insurance with a sum insured for medical expenses are to be: 1 No less than 40,000 THB for outpatient; and 2 No less than 400,000 THB for inpatient. The purchases of  insurance are done online via the website of  https://longstay.tgia.org1st VISA application There will need to be a health insurance or governmental welfare for medical expenses and the insurance covering COVID-19 treatment no less than 100,000 USD or 3,000,000 THB (the adjusted health insured sum)      

Application for VISA extension The purchase of health insurance from overseas or having a foreign governmental welfare is allowed under the conditions as follows: – it is required to have a government authority certifies on a form of health insurance, i.e. an overseas Royal Thai Embassy; or – it is required to have certification of signature of an authorized person signed on the document by the ministry of foreign affairs of the country of applicant  

In case that the applicant is a risked group resulting in rejections by all insurance companies, the following additional documents are required: – The rejection letter of the purchase of health insurance – Securities, deposits, and other health insurances with an insured sum no less than 3,000,000 THB complying with the regulations of the Immigration Bureau.

Elite Membership is one of the visas schemes for tourists managed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (“TAT”) having varieties of package ranging from 5-10 years of membership.

TAT has proposed for extending its privileges to the Cabinet for approval in order to magnetize wealthy foreigners around the world to visit and stay in Thailand for long term periods.

On 8 June 2021, the Cabinet approved in principle for such proposed Flexible Plus Program as one of the national economic reliefs responding to the effect from Covid-19 pandemic. The Thailand Flexible Plus Program has 4 target groups, i.e. Wealthy Global Citizen, Wealthy Pensioner, Work-from-Thailand-Professional, and High-Skilled Professional.

Details of the project after working with the working team under supervision of the Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow was referred to the Cabinet but was rejected by the Secretariat of the Prime Minister thereafter. The Secretariat of the Prime Minister deemed that the matter is related to the Ministry of Interior and, therefore, ordered the TAT to schedule a meeting for further discussions in which the meeting was held on 9 July 2021.

stylish businesspeople in outerwear shaking hands

The proposed plan includes a new type of Long-term Resident Visa (LTR VISA) and establishment of the LTR service unit to accommodate this plan. The LTR service unit will be established in a form of private entity having a concession granted by the Ministry of Finance to specifically manage this project. The key current requirements for the Elite Flexible Plus Program, as far as the TAT can confirm to the public at this moment, are making investment in Thailand in real estate, shares both in limited companies and stock market, debentures, or depositing in the bank accounts for a minimum of 1 million USD or around 30 million THB. The investment can be diversified and collectively reaches the minimum amount or can be invested wholly in one category. Other details will be announced later once it becomes clear.

The Ministry of Interior proposed its draft Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in Thailand (No. ..)  B.E. …. (the “Draft Announcement”) to the Cabinet for its approval and that the Draft Announcement was approved in principle by the Cabinet on 23 March 2021.

Since the government has allowed foreigners, who travel by cruises or sport ships (yachts), to the Kingdom are able to apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV) at the immigration checkpoint according to the Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in the Kingdom dated 30 October 2020 and its amendment dated 9 December 2020, from such, there were many foreigners traveled to the Kingdom under such special program and that some more of them have already registered to travel to the Kingdom under the same visa program.

four boats on sea

Due to the current situation of the COVID-19 epidemic which has been improved, Thailand is currently trying to speed up its economic recovery especially in the tourist sector, the Ministry of Interior then proposed the Draft Announcement to the Cabinet in order to extend the period of time for enforcing of such STV program to be until 30 September 2021 subject to strictly adhere to the measures preventing communicable diseases.

The Ministry of Interior proposed its draft Announcement on Special Permission for Certain Groups of Foreigners to Stay in the Kingdom (the “Draft Announcement”) to the Cabinet for its approval and that it was approved by the Cabinet on 8 December 2020.

top view photo of beach

The Draft Announcement specifies that foreigners from the low-risk or moderate-risk countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, are able to apply for an extension of Special Tourist Visa (STV) for another 30 days (in total 60 days). The said extended period is for foreigners who travel by cruises or sport ships (yachts) from such low-risk or moderate-risk countries as their countries of origin and are currently locating, in transit or locating in Thailand territorial water on the date that the Draft Announcement becomes enforced.

The Draft Announcement will be passed to the Prime Minister for his signing and later it will be returned to the Secretariat of the Cabinet for publishing in the Royal Gazette.

As aliens temporarily entering into the Kingdom are required to be quarantined for 14 days and there is insufficient time for them to carry out their activities under the permitted purpose in the Kingdom during the validity period of their visas. Therefore, it is appropriate to allow for extension of the period of stay in the Kingdom of the aforementioned aliens for 15 days, totaling 45 days, effective from December 2020 to September 30, 2021.

The Cabinet on 24 December 2020 has resolved to approve a draft Announcement of the Ministry of Interior on Extension of the Period of Permission for Certain Types of Alien to Stay in the Kingdom under Special Circumstances proposed by the Ministry of Interior in regard to the above-mentioned matter.

Foreigners who hold below types of visa can stay in the Kingdom for such other 15 days.

  1. Transit Visa
    • Traveling through the Kingdom (Code TS)
    • Playing a sport (Code S)
    • Being a commander of vehicle or regular vehicle entering into a port, station or locality in the Kingdom (Code C)
  2. Tourist Visa (Code TR)
  3. Holder of passport or its substitute entering into the Kingdom temporarily for an international conference or sport event which the Thai government is the host or is approved by the relevant ministries, bureaus or departments.

As the numbers of foreign workers have been increased steadily in Thailand. However, the system and personnel to handle on the matters related to such foreigner works such as issuing of visa and work permit, notification of such foreign workers and related procedures have not been suitable, up-to-date and it also creates time-consuming to all related persons.

The Cabinet then has resolved in principle for the development of foreign worker management services as proposed by the Ministry of Labour by allowing an outsourcing service provider to manage and handle on the same. This can improve the foreign worker management services to be more systematic, convenient, modern and verifiable. Brief details of development of such foreign worker management services are as follows:

  1. Using an e-WorkPermitOS system instead of customary services for all processes in relation to issuing a work permit. It can be done via a smartphone or tablet by using mobile application.
  2. Arranging for 45 places for the e-WorkPermitOS information Center.
  3. Issuing the work permit in a plastic card and digital forms having QR-code and barcode.
  4. Providing services for 24 hours a day.
  5. Accumulating all data to be in a single database.
  6. Verifying all processes through single database.

The Ministry of Labour then is required to work together with all related authorities and then repropose this development of foreign worker management services to the Cabinet for its final approval.

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn and Parita Preamsawat