The latest group of foreigners allowed to enter Thailand includes those with a membership of the Thailand Privilege or Elite Card. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has included them in the list which already includes medical tourists, some guest workers from neighboring countries, students, work permit holders, foreigners with Thai spouses, permanent residents (with a police red book) and some short-stay business people.
The Elite card, a multiple entry visa which permits stays of up to 20 years in return for a one-off cash fee, is now seeing applications boom in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and Thailand’s success in handling it. Agents in Australia, China, Singapore, USA and UK all report enormous interest following the CCSA decision. Current membership numbers worldwide are currently around 11,000 and are expected to double before the end of the year.
There is a variety of options within the Elite program, but the most popular is a five year visa for a one-off cash fee 500,000 baht or equivalent. Apart from free entry in and out of Thailand anytime, there are perks such as fast-track progression at the airport and discounts in nominated hotels, restaurants and clubs. However, the visa does not permit working without a permit or ownership of land. 90 days reporting is a still a requirement, although currently excused under the amnesty until September 26.
Jessataporn Sriboo, a Pattaya-based Elite agent, said, “There are many foreigners trapped abroad who want to return to Thailand and now see this visa as their route here. The big advantage is that the Elite visa is not issued by Thai embassies abroad but by the government. Applications can be made from anywhere in the world and on-line.” But he cautioned that the authorities must be ready for a surge in applications and be able to process them speedily.
A spokeswoman for Thailand Privilege said, “We are aware of the worldwide interest in Elite and will be emphasizing that a key advantage is Thailand’s first class medical facilities. Also, we will be offering testing for coronavirus in our publicity.”
Elite visa entrants to Thailand, both old and new, will still need a certificate of entry from the Thai embassy in the country where they are based and will need to pay for their own 14-days quarantine on arrival.