THE Thai government has announced plans to allow well-to-do foreign residents aged over 50 to apply for 10-year visas in its push to promote the country as a medical hub.
Government spokesman Athisit Chainuwat said the new policy was approved by the interim cabinet on Tuesday, Khaosod English reported.
Although the cabinet did not announce when it would be implemented, Athisit said the new policy would replace the one-year renewable visas and needed to be renewed every five years.
However, Athisit said those who gained the visas would still have to report to the Bureau of Immigration every 90 days.
He added the applicants were mostly expected to comprise foreigners living in the Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Chonburi provinces.
Meanwhile, Coconuts Bangkok (via the Bangkok Post) reported that the expat population arrivals to the capital have seen a recent shift from European, North American, and Japanese nationals to Chinese citizens who have doubled over the last five years.
Recently, Chinese nationals make up for 13.3 percent of Thai work permit holders, an increase of 19.4 percent since last year.
Although Japanese citizens have traditionally been the largest expat community in Thailand, accounting for more than the 25 percent average of those working in the country over the years, the numbers have dropped to 22.8 this year.
The shift in the capital’s expat population has affected the rental market in the city with Chinese nationals choosing less luxurious neighborhoods that other expats preferred.
For the past two decades, Western and Japanese expats were given an average of 40,000 baht (US$1,126) monthly rental allowance, most of which was spent on pricier two-and-three-bedroom rentals to also house their families.
However, Chinese citizens were found to have preferred expat hubs that were far less expensive as they received smaller housing allowances.
Due to the influx of Chinese nationals, Bangkok’s neighborhoods such as Ratchadaphisek is seeing a drastic change the nationalities residing in the area. Due to its popularity among the Chinese expats, some have dubbed the neighborhood as Bangkok’s new Chinatown, Coconuts Bangkok reported.
The growth of the expat community in the city will likely see more expat hubs known to be popular among Chinese nationals.
This article first appeared on Asian Correspondent.