Asia-PacificIntel & Data

Thailand Elite Membership Passes 20,000 – Approvals of Chinese Nearly Tripled in 2022

Spurred by a seemingly interminable “Covid-Zero” policy, now-definitely dashed hopes of a change in top leadership, and a slew of other strong push factors, China’s investment migration market – which cooled off sharply during the first two years of the pandemic – is rapidly reviving. That trend is statistically evident from the recently published nationality figures of programs like Portugal’s Golden Visa, Ireland’s IIP, and New Zealand’s Investor Visa, as well as anecdotally from the programs that don’t.

This week, we learn that one of the biggest beneficiaries of this Chinese exodus has been Thailand's Elite residence program. During the 2022 Thai fiscal year, which ended on September 30th, program authorities approved 3,131 Chinese applicants, nearly three times as many as the 1,095 it approved in the same period last year. Overall, the program now has 7,350 Chinese members, accounting for 35.2% of the total 20,884 active participants, according to statements from Yuthasak Supasorn, Board Chairman of Thailand Privilege Card Co. in Bangkok Post.

The number of active Elite Visa holders has virtually doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. In FY2022 alone, authorities approved a record 5,582 applications, exceeding its 4,407 target for the year.

While statistics for other nationalities are not available, other sizeable applicant groups are Japanese (who made up 8% two years ago), British, Americans, and French (each made up 6% of the total in September 2020).

See also: Thailand’s Low-Tax “Long Term Resident” Visa Opens Next Month: How Does it Compare to Elite Residence?

Introduced at the beginning of 2021 as a means to inject foreign capital into pandemic-struck Thai property developers, the program's "Flex One" option, which allows applicants to qualify through the acquisition of real estate valued at THB 10 million (about US$270,000), has also seen some uptake. 22 developers now offer 77 projects that qualify under the program.

The number of General Sales and Services Agents (GSSAs), companies permitted to act as program agents, has grown considerably in the last two years, from 18 GSSAs in 2020 to 32 today. The official list of GSSAs is available here.

Overview of Long-Stay Income- or Capital-Based Visas in Southeast Asia

Min. Bank Deposit (Cheapest Option)Min. Fees (Cheapest Option)Min. Annual StayMax. Visa ValidityMin. Annual IncomeMin. InvestmentPath to PR or CitizenshipMin. Age
Malaysia M2H$212,000$1,06090 days5 years (renewable)$100,000N/AN/A35
Malaysia M2H - Sarawak$32,000$1,06030 days5 years (renewable)$18,000N/AN/A30
Malaysia PVIP$212,000$42,000N/A5 years (renewable)$100,000N/AN/A18
Cambodia M2HN/AN/AN/A10 years (renewable)N/A$100,000Citizenship in 5 years18
Indonesia M2H$130,000$192N/A10 yearsN/AN/AN/A18
Thailand Elite VisaN/A$16,000N/A20 yearsN/AN/AN/A18
Thailand LTR Visa (Group 1)N/A$1,300N/A5 years (renewable)$80,000$500,000N/A18
Thailand LTR Visa (Group 2)N/A$1,300N/A5 years (renewable)$80,000N/AN/A50
Thailand LTR Visa (Group 3)N/A$1,300N/A5 years (renewable)$40,000N/AN/A18
Thailand LTR Visa (Group 4)N/A$1,300N/A5 years (renewable)$80,000N/AN/A18
Philippines SIRVN/A$300N/AN/AN/A$75,000Citizenship possible after 10 years18