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The pandemic has been a game-changer in more ways than one. We have had to rethink not only our health practices, but how we live and work. Many of us haven’t been in the office for over a year. We have had digital conferences, made sales over the phone, and watched presentations on Zoom. We have learned that we don’t have to meet in-person to get the job done. For this reason, digital nomadism, or telecommuting for work from a foreign country, is having its heyday.
Now is a great time to be a digital nomad and countries all over the world are beginning to recognize the value of hosting remote workers who contribute to the local economy without draining its resources. This new arrangement is not without challenges, however, for both the country and the remote worker, and one of the biggest challenges lies in obtaining visas.
While it is technically possible to work from another country while you are there on a tourist visa, your trip duration in that country is generally limited to no more than 90 days. Even then, in most cases, working in a country that you are visiting on a tourist visa is difficult.
Luckily, a new type of work visa has recently emerged for digital nomads. The new visa covers remote workers who have a job that they can do from anywhere, as long as they have a WIFI connection. Online language teachers, authors, customer support associates, travel vloggers, social media managers, designers and data specialists could all benefit from a digital nomad visa.
Estonia was the first country to support this type of visa. The small northern European country kicked off an e-residency program in 2014 that allowed non-residents to take advantage of the cutting-edge digital initiatives Estonia was offering. From there, it was only a matter of time before circumstances (i.e., the pandemic) resulted in the creation of a visa that allowed digital nomads to benefit from these services while actually living and working in the country.
Other countries quickly realized that Estonia was onto something. Many of the countries now offering this type of visa were negatively impacted by the loss of tourism income due to the pandemic. They recognized that attracting a remote workforce who would contribute to the local economy without having to actually provide jobs or free healthcare to those workers would be a good way to make up for some of that loss.
Digital nomad visas generally require that you have the means to support yourself, you work for a company outside of the country or are self-employed, and that you have a travel or health insurance plan that covers you for the entire length of your stay. In many cases, the visa extends to members of your immediate family. Requirements vary by country.
Below are a few of the growing number of countries offering a digital nomad visa:
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda’s answer to the digital nomad visa trend is the Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) visa. According to the official website, it is “designed for persons whose work can be done remotely and are desirous of doing so from a safe Caribbean island with all modern amenities, including reliable and fast telecommunications to the world.” This two-year visa requires you to own a business or work for a business based outside of Antigua and Barbuda and to have an annual income of at least $50,000. You must also have a valid travel or health insurance policy for your entire stay as well as pass a background check and pay a visa fee.
Barbados offers a 12-month visa called the Barbados Welcome Stamp that “allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.” You must provide proof that you earn more than $50,000 per year from your own business or a company located outside of Barbados or have other means of support. A visa fee of $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for the remote worker and their dependents applies.
Work from this island destination with a one-year Work From Bermuda Certificate. As with other digital nomad visas, you are required to work for a company outside of Bermuda or have your own location-independent business, show proof of insurance, and pay a visa fee, but there is no minimum income requirement to qualify for this certificate.
If you want to live and work in the Cayman Islands for up to two years, their new Global Citizen Concierge Program is for you. To qualify for this program, you must work for a company outside of the Cayman Islands and make at least $100,000 annually. The salary requirements are even higher if you plan to bring a spouse and/or children with you. You will also be required to pay an application fee, provide a notarized bank reference and six months of statements, submit to a criminal background check, and show that you have health insurance for the first 30 days of your stay.
One of the latest countries to jump on the digital nomad visa trend, Croatia offers a solution that is really more of a precursor to obtaining a temporary residence permit. You can apply for this program on the official website, where you will confirm that you meet the employment, financial, background check, and health insurance requirements. You and your immediate family can stay in Croatia up to twelve months under this program.
It’s not cheap, but if you have the financial means to live in Dubai under their one-year virtual working program, you can enjoy many of the benefits that permanent residents of the United Arab Emirates are entitled to during your stay. To qualify for the program, you must show proof of income equivalent to $5,000 per month in addition to meeting travel and health insurance requirements and paying an application fee.
A pioneer in the e-residency arena, Estonia expanded options for location-independent workers who wanted to actually live in the country for up to a year with their Digital Nomad Visa. You are eligible to apply if you work remotely as a freelancer, own a business registered in a country other than Estonia, or are employed by a non-Estonian company. In addition to providing proof of employment and income, you’ll need to pay an application fee and consent to a background check. If you stay in Estonia under a Digital Nomad Visa for more than 183 days during the year, you will also be subject to taxes. Finally, you will also need to be covered under a health insurance plan throughout your stay.
Do you want to work “Remotely from Georgia?” Their new initiative welcomes entrepreneurs, freelancers, location-independent workers and their family members to stay in the country for up to a year provided they meet the minimum income requirement, pay taxes, and maintain valid travel insurance or medical insurance.
Iceland’s long-term visa for remote workers and their family members comes with a hefty price tag and is only good for 6 months. You’ll need to show proof that you make a minimum of almost $8,000 per month for an individual — more if you’re bringing your spouse and kids. You’ll also need to show that you own a business or work for a company that is not based in Iceland and that you have sufficient travel or health insurance coverage.
Mauritius recently launched a Premium Travel Visa that allows remote workers to stay in the country for up to a year. The only requirements are that you don’t work for a company registered in Mauritius, you meet a minimum monthly income threshold, and you maintain travel and health insurance during your stay. The visa is free and renewable.
Mexico has a Temporary Resident Visa that allows financially independent remote workers to stay in the country for one year, and is renewable for another three years. You will need to provide proof that you make an average monthly income of at least $1,634 over the previous six months. As with other visas of this type, you will need to own your own business or work for a company based outside of Mexico.
Get Started and Enroll in Travel Insurance Coverage
If becoming a digital nomad is one of your goals, find or create a job that allows you to work remotely and build your income to the level needed to live in the country of your dreams. Then, check out travel insurance policies that meet the requirements to qualify for this type of visa. TravelInsurance.com is a great place to start your research. We offer policies from trusted insurance companies like AIG, John Hancock, AXA, and more. You can compare the benefits with our easy-to-use comparison tool and get instant quotes and immediate coverage. Whether you’re ready to book a flight now or need some time to make the transition from working in an office or working at home to working on the beach, we can help you get the right coverage.
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