Thailand offers an Entrepreneur Visa program which aims at attracting highly skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, investors or executives that will contribute to the development of industries within the country. This growth driven program is called the Smart Visa Program.

 As an entrepreneur it is often difficult to build a new project in another country because of visa issues. You do not usually have a status which enables you to get a visa to implement your new idea in a new country. Thanks to the Smart program, more especially the Smart S visa, Thailand gives entrepreneurs a chance to develop their newly reflected project on their territory. 

Before implementing your project, you will need to understand the Smart S visa, with its benefits, then eligibility criteria, how to apply for this opportunity and finally its challenges and considerations to have when applying for this particular visa.

What is the Entrepreneurs’ visa in Thailand and its Benefits

The entrepreneurs’ visa, known as the Smart S visa, is a specific type of visa designed by the government of Thailand in order to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to develop their business in the country. This visa aims at developing the country’s industries, more specifically more future driven industries as they aim to close the gap with the main players in the world. 

As this visa has been created to attract entrepreneurs, it comes with great benefits. First, depending on the situation, the duration of this visa can be from 6 months to 2 years. Those criteria are of fundings, experience or engagement in the start-up framework, as depicted in the Smart Visa website. It is important to note that no work permit is required when having this visa, which is very rare when working in another country. On the same note, a re-entry permit is also not required. Family wise, for the whole duration of the visa the spouse and children of the entrepreneur are allowed to stay in the country and can work with a separate work permit. 

It is also key to note that immigration processes are highly facilitated. With all these benefits now in mind, it is then important to understand the eligibility criteria, as well as the process of the application.

Eligibility Criteria

Several requirements are needed when applying for the Smart S visa. First and foremost, the applicant project is required to be in one of the targeted industries listed on the Smart Visa website. All those industries are part of the “13 S-Curve industries” defined by the Thai government. A financial requirement is also mandatory as the applicant needs “a deposit of no less than 600,000 Baht or equivalent in a bank account in Thailand or in the country of his/her nationality or residence, which has been held for at least 3 months”. 

Additionally, in case the applicant is accompanied by his spouse or children “an additional amount of deposit of no less than 180,000 Baht per person” is required. There is also a need for health insurance which covers the applicant for the whole duration of his stay, as well as his spouse and children. There is also a need for participation in entrepreneurship’s program which depends on the duration of the visa as further explained on the Smart Visa website

Lastly, within one year after the initial visa is granted, the entrepreneur needs to establish a company of which he owns at least 25%, or with a board member position. 

How to apply for an Entrepreneur Visa?

After the eligibility criteria are checked, the entrepreneur needs to apply for the visa. Firstly, the applicant needs to register and submit his application on A full set of documents is required for the application to be taken into consideration, the application form is obviously the first step to look at. Then as mentioned previously a few requirements are needed and so are the proofs of these requirements (proof of financial status, health insurance for instance), a business plan is also required. 

Within 30 days after application, OSS will notify the applicant, the Immigration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the relevant agencies of the result of qualification endorsement application. Finally, a verification of your application by the relevant authorities will be made after submitting these endorsements (within 60 days) to one of the authorized places. 

Challenges and Considerations of the Entrepreneur Visa?

Entrepreneurs should still consider some important factors before getting into the process of applying for the Smart S visa. While all the requirements listed above already need a lot of preparation and consideration, the applicant should also consider all the additional or unexpected paperworks that will need to be proceeded to. Even though some of the processes are simplified thanks to this particular visa (immigration process, work permit, re-entry, etc…), entrepreneurs must still manage regular administrative tasks to meet with requirements additionally to their initial company project. Additionally, adapting to the Thai business environment and culture, and integrating the local business environment can be also a significant challenge to consider.

All things considered, the Smart S visa is a great opportunity to develop a project in Thailand as a foreigner, yet all good opportunities are quite difficult to access. A long and complex process like this has to be cautiously prepared and examined to maximize your chances of success in this wonderful project.

At Gorioux Siam, we are aware of those difficulties as well as of the Thai business environment. We will be glad to help you navigate through all of this process in order to achieve your goals in the easiest way possible. Thus, do not hesitate to contact us as the first step towards a successful entrepreneurship project in Thailand.

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