economic migration


Thailand Elite Residence Program

Thailand’s exclusive residence program gives foreigners the right to live in the country for up to 20 years. It’s the first program of its kind worldwide, offering unlimited access to the jewel of Southeast Asia as well as a range of complimentary VIP privileges.

The special residence visa is issued by the Thailand Privilege Card Company Limited (TPC) — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The ‘Land of Smiles’, as it’s often referred to because of the friendly disposition of its citizens, has become one of the most sought-after destinations in Southeast Asia, with an increasing number of wealthy families and retired individuals wanting to take advantage of its temperate climate, spectacular landscape and outstanding leisure facilities.

To receive the Thailand residence visa, foreigners must be a member of Thailand Elite, an exclusive program offered by TPC.

Program Options

The Thailand Elite Residence Program offers seven program options, each varying in validity, benefits and costs.

The following are the three most popular options available:

1) Elite Ultimate Privilege — 20-year residence visa for individuals who pay a one-off fee of approximately USD 60,000, plus an annual fee of approximately USD 600.

Applicants must be aged 20 years or older.

The residence visa can be transferred once during the 20-year validity at 20% of the prevailing rate.

This package includes the following complimentary privileges:

-VIP assistant services through immigration and passport formalities, exclusive VIP lounge access and unlimited short-haul airport transfers (50–80 km) for all international flights

-Hospitality services: 24 times per calendar year for golf and spa treatments, plus one annual health check at a local private hospital

-Government concierge services: immigration, driver’s license, work permit

2) Elite Privilege Access — designed for family applications with a 10-year residence visa for each applicant.

The one-off fee is approximately USD 30,000 for the main applicant and USD 22,500 for each dependent.

Dependents may include legitimate parents, step-parents, spouse (including by civil union), children and step-children.

There is no annual fee and no age restriction.

The residence visa cannot be transferred.

The package includes complimentary privileges such as VIP transport services (limited to 18 short-haul airport transfers for international flights), government concierge services, plus one annual health check per person at a local private hospital.

3) Elite Easy Access — popular option for expats or business persons to enter and exit Thailand.

For this five-year residence visa, the one-off fee is approximately USD 15,000.

There is no annual fee and no age restriction.

The residence visa cannot be transferred, but can be upgraded to the Elite Ultimate Privilege option for approximately USD 45,000.

Procedures and Time Frame

TPC has an efficient application process. It takes less than one month to get visa issuance at designated international airports.

TPC will only approve in principle after a personal profile check has been done, which takes one week after submission of the application.

In some cases, TPC may request additional documents.

An approval letter will be issued together with the one-off fee payment request.

The residence visa will be issued within two weeks after TPC has confirmed receipt of the full application fee.

Prior to physically obtaining the visa, the approved applicant and dependents must inform TPC seven days in advance of their arrival time and airport in order to get the visa affixed at the immigration lounge.

Successful applicants of the Thailand Elite Residence Program can reside or stay in Thailand for as long as they wish up to the validity of their chosen package.

The only limitation is a requirement to inform TPC when reaching a continuous 90-day length of stay in Thailand.

Key Advantages of the Program

Residence in Thailand is possible for a few days; a few months; or an unlimited period within the validity of the chosen package. There is no minimum stay requirement

Attractive tax benefits. Successful applicants are only taxed on income sourced in Thailand — foreign sourced income is tax free as long as it is not remitted to Thailand in the same tax year in which it was earned

It is possible to acquire a tax number if you have income sourced in Thailand (for example rental income). Tax certificates are available for residents who stay more than 180 days per year in Thailand

Complimentary VIP services including a dedicated Elite personal assistant for international flights and lounge access, airport transfers, and a 24-hour member contact center which operates in several languages

A low-cost, high standard of living

Colombia’s easy second passport program for real estate investors

Last updated May 15, 2017 

Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Legendary travel author Paul Theroux famously remarked that “comfort is the enemy of observation”. And for years, US persons and others in the “first world” have made assumptions about everything from travel to living to investing based on age-old assumptions.

These include everything from “real estate never goes down” to suggesting that Phnom Penh, Cambodia doesn’t have street lights. Yes, really…

Like a socialite who has lots of money but no idea where it came from or a belief that it ever might stop coming, westerners have poured money into doomed asset classes like US real estate while thinking that the rest of the world lives in grass huts.

One victim of such propaganda is Colombia, which suffered for years under the banner of a bloody drug war, but is now easily one of the world’s most underrated hidden gems — not only for investment, but also for entrepreneurship and lifestyle — as a way to escape the US.

To this day, mention Colombia to someone who doesn’t travel much and they’ll dream up images of Pablo Escobar and harken back to the day they watched Blow.

But it just so happens that Colombia offers an excellent opportunity for what I call “emerging citizenship”.

Emerging citizenship is my term for the opportunity to get in on a second citizenship while it’s on the upswing. We’ve discussed before the concept that countries, as they become wealthier and more prominent, tend to dramatically tighten their immigration protocol.

While getting in to Singapore would have involved making a small and well-fated investment twenty or thirty years ago, today it is all but impossible to get in unless you have millions of dollars or a start-up company with the blessing of people in high places.

In fact, I warned you last April that Singapore was once again tightening its immigration policy as of September 2013. And now, for instance, it’s harder than ever to get an entrepreneur visa.

If you missed the boat, your goal should be to find the next Singapore.

That’s where emerging citizenship comes in. Singapore can afford to be picky because their 276 square miles of land has plenty of people, and the Singaporean passport grants access to 170 countries. It’s one of the best passports in the world, allowing those who hold it to enter visa-free to just about everywhere except the CIS States and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Colombia, however, does not have such a valuable passport. At least not quite.

Recently, the tax-and-spend crowd in the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to allow Colombians to travel without a visa to Europe’s borderless Schengen area. That means that, starting sometime in 2015, those holding a Colombian passport will be able to visit 26 countries in Europe visa-free.

That means Colombian passport holders can go anywhere most people would want to visit in Europe — save for the non-Schengen countries of Ireland and the United Kingdom — on top of their unfettered access to all of Central and South America.

Colombians can even visit places off-limits to westerners, like Russia. That certainly sounds pretty “emerging” to me.

Here’s the good news: obtaining residency in Colombia is straightforward and less bureaucratic than one might expect. Once residency is obtained, the timeline to naturalization is five years, with a basic Spanish requirement.

In order to obtain residency, one simply needs to invest at least US$135,000 in a Colombian company or in Colombian real estate. Unlike the economic citizenship programs in the Caribbean, that investment can be made pretty much wherever you wish. You can purchase quality property with a real yield and a real chance for appreciation, not just some “government approved” rubbish.

You can live in the real estate or rent it out. You can buy one rather livable property to qualify, or spread your cash out and buy up a bunch of dumps. You can even set up a local Colombian company with your friends, buy a bunch of properties to pool your risk, and each get residency so long as each party’s share meets the $200,000 minimum.

Your only concern is making sure you don’t fall victim to some real estate scam.

If you don’t have a six figure investment, you can qualify for a different visa with only $21,000, but the citizenship process takes five years longer. Once your investment is made, the process is relatively quick and you can be the proud holder of a Colombian passport after five years.

While I’m not opposed to the Caribbean citizenship programs for those who want or need quick citizenship to expatriate, having a Colombian passport comes with the added benefit of being from a “real country”, and Colombians are a more diverse bunch than you may realize.

If you know or are willing to learn to speak Spanish, it’s not a stretch to say that a lot of North Americans could pass for being Colombian.

It seems that every time I turn around, someone I know is investing in Colombia and making a bunch of money. Everyone from real estate developers to guys starting up English schools and even day trading education centers.

In fact, I’m so intrigued by opportunities in Colombia that I’ve previously held a boots-on-the-ground investment tour there. On top of all of the interesting developments I hear about each week, I also like the fact that Colombia is next door to what may well turn out to be the America’s answer to Singapore: Panama.

Panama already has an amazingly easy residency program called the Friendly Nations visa, but citizenship takes a little longer and the residency requirement is bit more stiff.

I set up a base in Malaysia partly because it offered more excitement and lower barrier of entry opportunities than Singapore, while being only a 45 minute flight away. In the same vein, living in Colombia gives you access to the emerging market action there with your own wealth hub down the street.

The good news is that getting Colombian residency isn’t an expensive process outside of the actual investment, making it a slam dunk.

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