Essential Long-Term Visa Options in Thailand for Investors and Entrepreneurs

Visas in Thailand should match the purpose of your stay in the kingdom.
Typically, for long-term residence, entrepreneurs and investors choose five main options:

  1. Non-Immigrant B Visa
  2. LTR Visa
  3. SMART Visa
  4. Investment Visa
  5. Thailand Privilege (Thailand Elite)

Of course, there are other categories of visas that are suitable for long-term residence in Thailand.
In particular, these are various categories of Non-O (non-immigrant) visas (“retirement” visa for people over 50 years old, “family” visas, education visa, guardian visa, etc.). These visas are not considered in this review.

Non-Immigrant B Visa

Typically, a work permit is issued to those holding a Non-Immigrant B visa (Non-B), commonly referred to as a “business visa” or “work visa”. The term “work visa” is conditional in Thailand, implying a Non-B visa in conjunction with a work permit. Besides work, the Non-B visa is also intended for business and some other cases. Furthermore, holders of investment visas, LTR and SMART visas, as well as those married to Thai nationals or having Thai children with non-immigrant type “O” visas, can also obtain work permits. Work permits can also be acquired by those with Thai permanent residence.

Usually, a foreigner obtains a non-immigrant visa at one of the Thai embassies or consulates based on documents provided by the future Thai employer (which could be your company if you are starting a business). A key document for processing the work visa is the approval letter that the Thai employer must obtain from the Department of Employment, form WP. 3. Companies with projects approved by the Board of Investment (BOI) process BOI letters instead of WP.3. When applying for a visa, it is important to consider the requirements of the specific embassy or consulate. The validity of such a Non-B visa is 90 days.

After entering Thailand, a work permit is processed based on documents from both the employer and the employee, typically for one year.

With a Non-B and a work permit, you can obtain an extension of stay at the local Immigration office. It is a stamp in the passport with a date until which the person is legally allowed to stay in the country, usually issued for 1 year.

The Long-Term Resident (LTR) Visa

The Long-Term Resident (LTR) Visa is a visa category in Thailand designed for high-potential foreigners. It specifically targets the following groups:

  1. Wealthy Global Citizens: Individuals with at least $1 million in assets and a minimum investment of $500,000 in Thailand.
  2. Affluent Retirees: People aged 50 and above with a stable annual pension or income.
  3. Remote Workers: Professionals employed by established overseas companies and working remotely from Thailand.
  4. Highly Skilled Experts: Specialists in targeted industries employed by Thai entities, government agencies, research centers, or specialized training institutions.

The LTR Visa holder’s spouse and children under 20 can also be included, for up to four family members.

For a more detailed understanding of the LTR Visa, including its requirements, benefits, and application process, you can read a detailed post about the LTR Visa.

Thailand`s LTR Visa explained

Smart Visa

The SMART Visa program is aimed at attracting scientists, technology experts, high-level executives, investors, and startup entrepreneurs who are engaged in targeted industries (S-Curve Industries).

The SMART Visa is not intended for digital nomads or individuals working remotely.

SMART “T” (Talent) Visa

For professionals with expertise in science and technology relevant to targeted industries. Requirements include a salary of at least 100,000 Baht/month (50,000 Baht for certain experts) and an employment contract with a minimum 1-year validity. Benefits include a 4-year renewable visa and exemption from work permit requirements.

SMART “I” (Investor) Visa

Aimed at investors in technology-based businesses. Requires a minimum investment of 20 million Baht in technology businesses or 5 million Baht in a startup/incubator program. Offers a 4-year renewable visa with similar benefits to the Talent category.

SMART “E” (Executive) Visa

Designed for senior executives in technology-based companies. Criteria include a minimum income of 200,000 Baht/month, a Bachelor’s degree or above, and at least 10 years of relevant experience. Benefits include a 4-year renewable visa and exemption from certain work requirements.

SMART “S” (Startup) Visa

For entrepreneurs establishing a tech-based startup. Requirements include a 600,000 Baht deposit, health insurance, and setting up a company in targeted industries within one year. This visa is renewable for up to 2 years.

For more information on the SMART “S” Visa, read details here.


All Smart Visa types offer similar privileges. Each category allows for a maximum extension period of 4 years, with the exception of the Smart “S” Visa.

Other common privileges across all visas include:

  • Extensions of up to 4 years;
  • No work permit requirement
  • Annual reporting to the Immigration at the One-Stop Service Center;
  • No re-entry permit required;
  • Permission for spouses and children to live in Thailand. Spouses of Smart Visa holders (holding a Smart “O” visa) are allowed to work in Thailand without a work permit;
  • Access to Fast Track service at international airports in Thailand.

For the latest information, visit the Thailand Board of Investment and the Smart Visa website.

Investment Visa in Thailand


1) Transfer funds to Thailand amounting to at least 10 million baht (≈ $300,000) and invest them in one of the following instruments:

  • Purchase or lease of a new unit in a condominium from a developer (“primary market”). In the case of a lease, it must be for at least 3 years.
  • Deposit in a Thai bank, of which at least 50% of the capital is owned by Thai nationals.
  • Purchase of Thai government bonds or bonds of state-owned companies.

2) Possession of a non-immigrant visa.

3) A letter from the Thailand Investment Board confirming that the requirements have been met.

The visa is issued for a period of 1 year. Annual renewal is possible as long as the investment requirements are met.

Family members of the investor — spouse, children under 20 years old, and parents — can also obtain visas upon confirmation of kinship.

Holders of investment visas are required to submit reports on their stay every 90 days and are entitled to work in Thailand only if they have a work permit.

Thailand Privilege (Thailand Elite)

The long-term visa Thailand Privilege (formerly known as Thailand Elite) offers the opportunity to reside in Thailand for a period ranging from 5 to 20 years and more.

Read more details in a separate article at the link below.

 Thailand Privilege: The Successor to Thailand Elite

Permanent residency and Thai citizenship

Read details in separate articles at the links below.

 Thai Permanent Residency
 How to Become a Thai Citizen

Upcoming Visa for Digital Nomads

On May 28, the Thai government unveiled significant updates to its visa policy aimed at boosting tourism and the economy. Among these updates is the introduction of the new Destination Thailand Visa (DTV). The DTV is designed for remote workers, digital nomads, and tourists with interests in special areas such as Muay Thai, cooking, and more.

Please note that so far, only preliminary information is available, and many aspects are still unclear.

For more details, please read our separate post:

 Thailand Announces New Destination Thailand Visa (DTV)

If you have any questions about long-term visas in Thailand, please write to me, or use the form below.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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