Authorities in Thailand and Cambodia introduced ‘Golden Visa’ with provision of granting 10-year permission of stay, which was aimed at attracting affluent foreigners have fallen flat as neither the Thai nor the Cambodian authorities have published meaningful data on completed applications and little has been heard of either scheme since the launchings in 2022.
In Thailand, the long-term residence scheme is run by the Board of Investment with options for rich retirees, global travelers and executives. Most enquirers have found the bureaucracy most complex with the principal advantage being tax concessions via a digital work permit on income earned in Thailand. The Cambodian variant is actually run by the Khmer Home Charity Association and requires cash investment in an approved property complex. Neither scheme promises a second passport although the Cambodian visa holds out the maybe “five years down the line”.
Keo Song, a Phnom Penh travel agent and visa specialist who works closely with Cambodian immigration told Pattaya Mail that he had heard next to nothing about the golden visa. “It is straightforward for foreigners to obtain a variety of annual visas and extensions (retirement, work, study and family) for about US$300, so there isn’t a market for the 10-year idea”. He added that it was open to anyone to apply for Cambodian citizenship by investing around US$300,000, a process taking three months.
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Thailand, too, has no shortage of annually renewable visas. Indeed, a 10-year O/X option was introduced (without success) as early as 2017. But the main competitor is the Elite visa which grants a multiple entry stay of five years for 600,000 baht (less than US$20,000) with various other options for up to 20 years. Although the Elite visa does not offer income tax concessions and does not carry a digital work permit, it has been far and away the best long-term seller in recent years.
Golden Investments, which specializes in residency and citizenship by investment, said “The most successful schemes, for example in some Caribbean countries, offer clear advantages – notably a second passport – in return for a cash sum”. But neither the Thai nor the Cambodian 10-year visas attract specific markets and both are blurry round the edges”. The spokesman suggested that Thailand should expand the right to a digital work permit for self-employment without having Thai partners, whilst Cambodia should clarify its half-promise of a second passport and increase the options for investment.
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