Smart Visa, Conditions and Application Procedures for Arbitration in Thailand
Visa issues for foreign arbitrators who will be conducting arbitration in Thailand from time to time would not be much of a problem. However, in the event that they need to be dealing with customers or lawsuits on an extended basis or frequently have to travel in and out of the country on a regular basis, a “Smart Visa” would be another interesting option. If already issued with a standard visa, foreigners can upgrade to a Smart Visa.
“Smart Visa” is not just smart by name but features several perks that may be considered as smart as well. With the Smart Visa, foreigners are allowed to stay in Thailand for a period of 4 years and are required to report to the authorities only once a year, compared to the current 90 days on a normal visa. Additionally, they are also able to make unlimited travels in and out of the Kingdom. A Smart Visa can be requested by foreigners residing outside the Kingdom and foreigners who are currently residing in Thailand in which they can request to change their standard visa to a Smart Visa.
Of course, not everyone can request a Smart Visa, as the government wants to limit this privilege to attract highly skilled individuals and investors who wish to work or invest in the S–Curve (the country’s target industry) or for the target businesses of the country (What are the target industries and businesses? Click here) to enter the country with more privileges than provided by a normal visa. Therefore, the process of applying for a Smart Visa requires more procedures than a regular visa. However, once a Smart Visa has been granted, it is guaranteed to be the “most cost-effective” option worth the added efforts for experts who are highly skilled in arbitration. The Office of the Board of Investment has defined the qualifications of a highly skilled arbitral expert as those; “who need to enter the Kingdom to conduct arbitration, representatives, defenders, and supporters of the arbitration process” only.
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Smart Visa applicants must follow the following procedures;
- The arbitrator who wishes to apply must submit their application and scan supporting documents online to the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI), or the Thailand Arbitration Center (THAC), for initial screening and review. If the qualifications and documents are complete, THAC will issue a certified document to the applicant and apply the BOI. The process is to provide facilitation for the arbitrator and help alleviate the burden of reviewing documents for the BOI.
- If the applicant is not contacted back by the staff due to incomplete documents, or there is a need to submit any additional documents, it should be considered that the application is complete, by which the whole process should take about 30 days to complete.
- After the BOI has received the online application, the BOI will notify the relevant departments and proceed to review the request.
- If approved by all relevant departments (Department of Employment, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Immigration Office), the applicant will then be eligible for a Smart Visa.
- Suppose an individual is considered to be eligible for a Smart Visa. In that case, the BOI will then notify the applicant, the Immigration Office (in the case where the application was submitted domestically), and the Thai consulate or embassy (in the case where the application was submitted from a foreign country), the results of the application and proceed to issue the appropriate visa.
- After that, the applicant will then be required to personally confirm their identity during the visa application process at the Immigration Office (in the case where it was submitted domestically) or receive a sticker to attach to their passports from the consulate or the Thai embassy (in the case where it was submitted from a foreign country).
- In addition, the applicant is required to report to the Immigration Office every year and must report to the BOI annually to report on the progress of their work in their capacity as a highly-skilled professional.
Arbitration is classified as a “T” for highly skilled experts in the arbitration category in the Smart Visa, in which case only requires only 5 – 6 documents (excluding the request form). Apart from the general documents, a medical certificate issued by any clinic or hospital within the Kingdom of Thailand, a letter of recommendation from an alternative dispute resolution agency or arbitration institution, an employment contract or service contract entered into between the arbitrator and the relevant parties, must also be attached for consideration. If the applicant is entering Thailand as an arbitrator, he/she must also show proof of the appointment, as well as statements of their work experiences and educational background, etc.
However, in the case where there is no contract, a certificate issued by an institution or agency that provides alternative dispute resolution services may be used, the details of which must also include the duration of the arbitration, agreement on the remuneration, etc.
From the above, it can be seen that applying for a Category “T” Smart Visa involves a multi-step process. However, have you ever wondered whether the numerous steps are worth the benefits that come with a Category “T” Smart Visa? Read on to see the benefits that you will be receiving.
- You will be granted a Category “T” Smart Visa for a period not exceeding the employment/service contract duration but not more than the maximum period of 4 years.
- A work permit is not required to work in an enterprise or government agency accredited by the relevant agency under the Category “T” Smart Visa eligibility criteria. In cases where changes or additions are needed, further certification is needed according to the relevant criteria.
- Report to the authorities only once a year, compared to every 90 days on a normal visa.
- Unlimited travel in and out of the Kingdom.
- Legally registered spouses and children are granted rights to stay and work in Thailand without a work permit (a child who is legally able to work must be 18 years of age or more) and only work in professions that are not prohibited for foreigners.
From all of the above mentioned, it is evident that Smart Visas involves several conditions and procedures. However, once you have one, you will gain exclusive privileges that extend to yourself and your spouse and children. Not everyone can apply or upgrade to a Smart Visa, as eligible applicants must be highly skilled individuals and investors who wish to enter, work, or invest in the S – Curve (the country’s target industry) or the country’s target businesses (to see benefits of other Smart Visa categories, click here).
After reading this article, and realized that you are eligible to apply for a Smart Visa, hesitate no further and start the application process immediately because it is very convenient to use. As for any person who is a foreign arbitrator with qualifications that correspond to the guidelines stipulated by the Office of the Board of Investment can inquire or seek advice on the issuance of the certification of arbitration from THAC without any charges. Just visit our website at www.thac.or.th, or our Facebook page; THAC