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Friday, March 1, 2024

Controversy Surrounding The Thailand Elite Visa Scheme.

The Elite visa in Thailand has had a controversial history since its introduction by former premier Thaksin 20 years ago.

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The visa offers multiple-entry residency for periods ranging from 5 to 20 years in exchange for a cash payment, ranging from 600,000 to 2 million baht.

Despite its lack of ongoing financial record requirements and compulsory medical insurance, the Elite visa has proven popular among property owners and retirees from various nationalities, with an estimated 20,000 holders.

While the Elite visa does not include a work permit, the Thailand Privilege program provides a fast-track option. In comparison to the 10-year Long-Term Residence visa or the 10-year O/X Retirement visa, the Elite visa has simpler documentary requirements, making it the most preferred long-term choice.

However, there are concerns that the screening process for the Elite visa may not be stringent enough, with some individuals slipping through the cracks despite the requirement for Thai police clearance. There are also worries that some Elite visas have been approved abroad at inflated costs without proper checks.

In 2022, a large number of Elite visa inquiries came from Chinese applicants. Given recent allegations of corruption within the Thai police, particularly regarding the awarding of student visas to uninterested foreigners, there are potential dangers in issuing Elite visas without proper verification. Some Elite visas allow for the immigration of spouses and dependents at minimal additional cost.

Several countries, such as the UK, have had to cancel similar semi-permanent or quasi-citizenship visas following publicized scandals. As Thailand emerges from the pandemic, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks of extended stays through the Elite visa program.

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