Asia-PacificPolicy Updates

Thai Elite Visa Set for Revamp on October 1st: Expect Price Hikes of “50-500%” Says Leading Agent

Last week, the Thailand Privilege Card Co., which manages the Thai Elite Visa program, informed its accredited agents that, on October 1st (the start of the Thai fiscal year), it would be launching an entirely new suite of membership packages in connection with the company’s rebranding plan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the program.

Following what it characterized as a “careful consideration with all stakeholders”, it would be discontinuing all the programs existing membership packages and replacing them with new memberships on October first.

Those hoping to qualify under the current rules will need to submit their applications no later than by September 15th, this year. Applications under the new rules will open 15 days later.

The company pointed out that the changes would not affect existing members and that those who have already filed their applications will be considered on the basis of the original membership packages as long as the already-submitted application have been submitted through the right channels, are not deficient in terms of documentation, and have been paid for within 30 days of receiving an approval letter.

The Thai Elite visa competes in a large and diverse Southeast Asian market (and also competes with other Thai programs) for long-term residency visas. Even relatively minor changes to program policy – to say nothing of complete program overhauls, as appears to be in the cards for October – have the capacity to substantially shift the Thai Elite program’s competitive position.

Southeast Asian Long-Stay Visa Comparison Chart

Bastien Trelcat – Managing Partner at Harvey Law Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest international investment migration-focused firm – recalls that, when the program first opened in 2003, it had only one membership option. It now has eight (or nine, if counting the special ONE real estate option), a transition the Thai Privilege Card Co. (TPCC), according to Trelcat, has managed successfully and which has resulted in tens of thousands of new international members.

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This has attracted an ever-growing number of General Sales and Services Agents (GSSAs), of which the program now has 39:

Thai Elite Visa GSSAs – August 2023
Achat Social Co., Ltd.
Alpha Trade International
Altitude Management Co., Ltd.
Angel Real Estate Consultancy Co., Ltd.
Asset and Accounting Advisors Company Ltd.
Bangkok Thai Power Co., Ltd.
BB Birdnest Trading Co., Ltd.
Chiang Mai Awards Co., Ltd.
CMS Global PTE Ltd.
Company Vauban Co. Ltd.
Concept Business Co., Ltd.
Confidense Co., Ltd.
Daimaru Trading Co. Ltd
Discover Thailand Co. Ltd.
Dreamond Co., Ltd.
Emerald Tech Advance Co., Ltd.
Globevisa Group (Hong Kong) Ltd.
H.I.S. Tours Co., Ltd.
Hawryluk Legal Advisors Co. Ltd.
HC Technical Co.,Ltd.
Henley & Partners International AG
HH Premium Visa Consulting Co., Ltd.
HLG (Thailand) Co. Ltd.
Hyolim Limited
I Am Network Co. Ltd.
KTK Corporation Co., Ltd.
L Thai Interchange Co.,Ltd
L’Heritage Co., Ltd.
Lavida Advanced Fertility and Genetics Center Limited
Mandarin Accounting Law Firm Co., Ltd.
Novany Asset Co. Ltd.
Pathfinder International Co., Ltd.
Siam Legal (Thailand) Co., Ltd
Sweet River Co., Ltd.
Thai Jiaranai Group Co. Ltd.
Thaisuk Business Consultant Co. Ltd.
TWG 1988 Company Limited
Weekend Tours and Cargo Service Ltd.
YDM (Thailand) Co., Ltd.

“Back in June, the TPCC surveyed the licensed agents and presented their ideas of what the new options might look like,” reveals Trelcat. “What I can say is that the prices are likely to increase by between 50% and 500%, depending on the membership. The program will take a form somewhat similar to airline loyalty programs; there will be different tiers with different durations, and you’ll be able to gain and redeem points, and so on. We will know more in the next few weeks.”

But Trelcat, whose firm handles a large number of Thai Elite cases, also worries program authorities could present an over-ambitious new pricing structure:

“I just hope they don’t raise prices too much,” he remarks. “The program has been bringing in great volumes of applications. And look at what happened with Malaysia’s MM2H program when they raised prices; sales plummeted. It’s an unfortunate but sad reality.”

“The Thai Elite visa is basically a long-term tourist visa,” says Philippe May, CEO of Singapore-based international RCBI advisory EC Holdings. “Thailand never offered a Plan B. It doesn’t offer any path to permanent residency, much less to citizenship. I have been discouraging people from participating in this program for years.”

But among the Elite visas regional competitors, not offering a path to citizenship or even PR is the norm rather than the exception: Only 3 out of 14 comparable Southeast Asian long-term residency programs – Indonesia KITAS and Cambodia’s M2H – offer a path to PR and citizenship.

IMI Pros who can help with Thai visas

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