The head of the Thai Condominium Association sees the Cabinet’s approval of long-term visas for wealthy foreigners as a boost for the property industry.
Apa Attaboonwong, whose association approved an earlier long-stay visa tied to the Elite Card, said the new visa scheme for “digital nomads”, highly skilled workers, wealthy government officials and rich pensioners would lead to a revival in condo sales, which have tanked during the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, condominium sales were about 450 billion baht. In 2021 sales were only 100 billion, he said.
The Cabinet on Jan. 19 approved creation of a 10-year visa for wealthy foreigners or digital nomads who could pay 10,000 baht a year for the first five years of the visa and have it extended for another five years at rates in effect then.
Eligibility rules and regulations have yet to be finalized, but the Labor and Foreign Affairs Ministry are working on a draft. It’s also expected that the visa will include an immediate work permit.
In 2020 the Cabinet tried to tie 5-10 year visas to purchase of property, with a requirement to invest 10 million baht in condos or businesses and enroll in a new Elite Card program for 500,000 baht.
The condo association and other real estate groups opposed the plan, calling the purchase of an Elite Card an “indirect” and needlessly expensive way to provide visas. Instead, the government should offer direct visas with no strings.