Has Ac­quir­ing a Per­ma­nent Res­i­dency or Sec­ond Pass­port Be­come a New Com­mod­ity for Thai Cit­i­zens?

More Thai high net worth in­di­vid­u­als ac­quire a per­ma­nent res­i­dency over­seas or sec­ond pass­port.


Glob­al­i­sa­tion has cre­ated a new class of mo­bile cit­i­zen seek­ing mul­ti­ple na­tion­al­i­ties. Thai­land’s econ­omy and over­seas in­vest­ments has grown steadily over the last 10 years. The Thai peo­ple are recog­nised for their friend­li­ness and spend­ing power and as of 1 Jan­uary2017, Thai cit­i­zens have visa-free or visa on ar­rival ac­cess to 71 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries, rank­ing the Thai pass­port 67th in terms of travel free­dom. A per­ma­nent res­i­dency (PR) or sec­ond na­tion­al­ity pro­vides high net worth in­di­vid­u­als (HNWIs) with a way to pur­sue busi­ness, fi­nan­cial and per­sonal op­por­tu­ni­ties in ge­ogra­phies with po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and bet­ter over­all qual­ity of life. An ad­di­tional pass­port can fa­cil­i­tate res­i­dency abroad, ease of travel and ac­cess to, and mo­bil­ity of, per­sonal as­sets.

Ob­tain­ing a PR or a 2nd pass­port has never been eas­ier, es­pe­cially with Cit­i­zen­ship by In­vest­ment Pro­grams (CIPs). While there are many ways to em­i­grate to a for­eign coun­try, CIPs are typ­i­cally the fastest and most straight­for­ward means to a sec­ond pass­port for most HNWIs and their fam­ily mem­bers. The spec­i­fi­ca­tions of dif­fer­ent pro­grammes vary by coun­try, al­low­ing for­eign­ers to in­vest in real es­tate projects and busi­nesses, to pur­chase prop­er­ties, or to do­nate money di­rectly to a coun­try’s governmental fund in ex­change for cit­i­zen­ship and its in­her­ent rights. On the prac­ti­cal front, in­vest­ing in an al­ter­na­tive res­i­dence or cit­i­zen­ship, or ac­quir­ing a sec­ond pass­port, is seen as an in­stru­ment of fi­nan­cial and per­sonal se­cu­rity. A grow­ing num­ber of HNWIs seek ad­di­tional pass­ports for as­set pro­tec­tion, min­i­miza­tion of taxes and bet­ter tax plan­ning, as well as an in­sur­ance in the event of eco­nomic and so­cial up­heaval or un­sta­ble, con­fis­ca­tory po­lit­i­cal regimes. Where in­sta­bil­ity reigns, as­sets are at greater risk. Who would not be tempted by the right fast-track cit­i­zen­ship pro­gramme, which can pro­vide a sec­ond pass­port that al­lows visa-free ac­cess to ma­jor re­gions and coun­tries in the world, in­clud­ing sta­ble ju­ris­dic­tions such as the Schen­gen states, the United King­dom, Sin­ga­pore, and even China? For many, such open doors are well worth the price, and even con­sid­ered a bar­gain. To­day’s HNWIs are spoiled for choice as to where they can ac­quire their new res­i­dency or cit­i­zen­ship.

Let’s start with a brief over­view of re­gions of in­ter­est for Thai cit­i­zens. The USA offers per­ma­nent res­i­dency through an in­vest­ment in a “busi­ness at risk” cur­rently set at USD500,000. Thai­land is also an E2 coun­try and Thai Cit­i­zens can en­joy a 2-year re­new­able visa to the US as long as they keep the busi­ness they cre­ated on US soil. Aus­tralia grants per­ma­nent res­i­dency with an in­vest­ment start­ing at 1.5 mil. AUD and Canada at USD 250,000 (ap­prox.). The UK is much more ex­pen­sive at GBP 2 mil.

In Europe, Malta, Cyprus and Bul­garia are three coun­tries of­fer­ing a cit­i­zen­ship by in­vest­ment op­tion, un­lock­ing the con­cept of ac­quir­ing a Euro­pean pass­port, and hence the right to re­side, live, work and study in an EU mem­ber coun­try, with Cyprus be­ing the most pop­u­lar op­tion for Thai in­vest­ment. Bul­garia re­quires 1 mil EUR into Govern­ment bonds (ap­prox.) while Malta comes in at 1.3 mil EUR in­vest­ment (in­clud­ing a EUR650,000 do­na­tion to the Govern­ment).

1 Prop­erty to be held a min­i­mum num­ber of years. In Do­minica, the prop­erty can be sold via CIP again only af­ter 5 years 2 At least 5 days dur­ing a 5-year pe­riod must be spent in the coun­try

Har­vey Law Group (HLG) is an im­mi­gra­tion and busi­ness law firm head­quar­tered in Hong Kong and serv­ing busi­nesses, in­di­vid­u­als, and gov­ern­ments across Canada, Asia, the Mid­dle East and South Amer­ica. With of­fices in Mon­treal, Hong Kong, Xi­a­men, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Bangkok, Yangon, Sin­ga­pore, Manila, Ph­nom Penh, An­tigua & Bar­buda, Do­minica, St. Kitts & Ne­vis, and Gre­nada, along with a re­gional and in­ter­na­tional net­works, HLG can pro­vide ex­cep­tional le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion to busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als around the globe.

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