Where in the world will you work next?
If there’s an ideal time to work abroad, it’s now, thanks to the thousands of companies asking their employees to work remotely.
Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom reports that around 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time. A home office can be comfortable, but wouldn’t it be a lot rosier to work on a beach in Barbados or a quaint site amongst the old-growth forests of Estonia?
Countries around the world have the dual goals of bringing in tourism dollars lost during the pandemic and opening their doors wider, inviting remote workers interested in setting up shop outside their hometown. Many of these regions are experiencing little to no coronavirus outbreaks as well, making them even more alluring to Americans in states still battling the deadly pandemic.
Working in a different country isn’t a new tactic for many Americans, but countries such as Bermuda and Georgia have recently loosened their visa restrictions to further attract a new batch of “digital nomads.”
We’re taking a look at the new working visa guidelines introduced by several countries, some destinations on the cusp of widening their immigration doors, and a handful of regions that have long been enticing remote workers.
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Beginning August 1, Bermuda (and its legendary beach appeal) is offering a one-year residency for those who want to work or study in the country.
Successful applicants need to have valid health insurance coverage and be able to demonstrate employment with a legit company, or their own company, registered and operating outside of Bermuda. To apply, you’ll have to pay $263 and the Government of Bermuda says that the turnaround time will be five working days.
The certification will be renewable on a case-by-case basis, and family members who want to join need to apply separately and pay a separate fee. Even more helpful to remote workers and freelancers is that the Bermuda government compiled a list of local work-sharing spaces you can join upon arrival.
Hotels are getting in on the new plan, too. The Hamilton Princess Hotel has a new residency program, offering a rate of $299 per night for a suite if guests book a minimum of a month (typically these rooms run at $700). The price drops the longer you stay.
Ever fancied a snorkel or beach swim before you hop into your Zoom meeting with colleagues? Barbados is joining the digital nomad trend by launching its 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp for visitors.
Barbados established guidelines for applicants, which requires that each visa holder have health insurance and earn a minimum annual salary of $50,000. “There is no penalty for visa holders who end up earning less than $50,000 by month 12 due to unforeseen circumstances,” says Eusi Skeete, Director USA at Barbados Tourism Marketing. “However, they will still be responsible for supporting themselves and their dependents.”
Skeete adds that as of September 14, 1,363 applications were submitted, representing over 2,000 individuals, and the U.S. continues to be the highest region represented, with 546 applications, followed by the U.K with 229.
Why would you choose Barbados over, say, Bermuda? Skeete extols the island’s solid infrastructure, stable economy, exemplary healthcare facilities, and “world-class education from nursery to university level.”
He adds, “Barbados also boasts the fastest mobile and fiber internet services in the Caribbean, and a range of spaces with internet connectivity for remote working, from cafés to more formal flexible workspaces by international brands such as Regus.”
One of the European country’s e-government projects, its digital nomad visa program created a tailor-made solution after surveying 1,800 people to determine the needs of these remote workers, says Ruth Annus, Estonia’s Head of Citizenship and Migration Policy Department.
This visa would enable digital nomads to work and travel in Estonia for up to one year and it would also give digital nomads access to the Schengen Area, allowing them to travel to other EU member states for up to 90 days within 180 days.
Similar to other digital nomad visa restrictions, Annus notes that an application for a visa, which costs $117, must be accompanied by documents proving that the applicant continues to work for a foreign registered employer with whom they have a contractual relationship or
- The applicant continues to do business for a foreign registered company in which they have a shareholding or
- The applicant continues to provide services mainly to clients who have a place of business abroad and with whom they have a contractual relationship.
The policy that may raise some eyebrows is that Estonia requires that your monthly income in the preceding six months prior to application reach at least $4,000.
Home to Caucasus Mountain villages, Black Sea beaches, and a massive cave monastery dating to the 12th century, Georgia is an unlikely European country to participate in these digital nomad programs.
But since mid-July when its “Remotely from Georgia” program launched, thousands of applicants have sought to transplant themselves to the country.
Travelers have to prove they are earning a minimum monthly salary of $2,000 and agree to take part in a 14-day quarantine in a hotel at their own expense upon entering the region.
Economy Minister of Georgia, Natia Turnava, said in July, “Georgia has the image of an epidemiologically safe country in the world and we want to use this opportunity. We are talking about opening the border in a way to protect the health of our citizens, but, on the other hand, to bring to Georgia citizens of all countries who can work remotely.”
Another tropical paradise allowing digital nomads to work along its sandy coastline is Anguilla, a 35-square-mile island just northwest of Antigua and Barbuda.
A stay under three months costs $1,000 for individuals and $1,500 for a family of four. Entrance fees, which double for longer stays, also cover a couple COVID-19 tests, a digital work permit, and other costs. There isn’t any info on what to do if you plan to stay longer than three months.
Unlike other hotspots, Anguilla asks only for a “brief description” of the type of work you’ll be doing while on the island.
Not to be outdone, Thailand recently announced it’s offering a special tourist visa that will let foreigners stay in the country for up to 90 days, presuming they quarantine for the first 14 days. If you want to stay longer, don’t worry: These special visas can be renewed twice, allowing for you to stay 270 days, or about nine months, in Thailand.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisaranakul told reporters of the plan, “The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht ($32,000) a month.”
Thailand has done a remarkable job at containing the coronavirus, as Insider notes: the country “seems to have successfully flattened its disease curve and reported no new coronavirus cases as of publication on Sept. 17.”
There isn’t any information yet on applicant fees or necessary documents or health screenings.
On the cusp of ushering in a new work visa for digital nomads is Croatia. This small but picturesque country hasn’t yet approved their new visa but the prime minister said he will adjust its Aliens Act to allow international visitors to work in Croatia.
It’s forecasted that this digital nomad visa will only be made available in 2021.
This region desperately needs a visitor boost, according to reports: “Croatia is among the CEE countries experiencing a decrease in population, as many people in other EU countries, particularly the young and trained, are leaving for better opportunities.”
Prague has long been luring travelers but also remote workers, thanks to its gorgeous architecture, eclectic nightlife, and low cost of living. Its Long Term Visa will allow you to stay in the Czech Republic for up to a year, but note you‘ll have to have a housing plan sorted out before applying because their processing office wants you to prove you have set accommodations to qualify.
To obtain the work visa, you need to provide the usual documents—passport, a decision to permit employment, issued by the Public Employment Service of the Czech Republic—but also a few items we don’t see too often on application forms: a headshot photo of yourself beyond what your passport displays, and “a document equivalent to an extract from the Register of Criminal Records, issued by the country, of which the foreign national is a citizen, as well as by those countries, in which the foreign national has been staying during the last three years for an uninterrupted period longer than six months.”
This is a good time to celebrate bilateral agreements. Why? These agreements allow citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel to apply for a long-term work visa from inside Portugal, within 90 days of arrival.
The application requires the kind of material similar to what the Czech Republic asks for, such as two passport-style photos, your passport, proof of means of subsistence, proof of accommodation, criminal record, and details related to return travel.
What stands out with Portugal’s program is that after five years in the country with that special visa, you can apply for a residence permit, as long as you pass an exam on Portuguese language knowledge. If you’re enjoying your time in the country by year five, it could be time to como falar portugues.
For some Americans who don’t want to be too far away from family and friends, Mexico could be an ideal destination to work remotely (especially if you’re from a wintery state and crave year-round sunshine).
If you plan on working in Mexico for more than three months, you’ll want to apply for a temporary resident visa which lets you stay in the country for up to four years. As with other regions, the application requirements include:
- Valid passport
- Copy of migratory document
- Photo ID
- Invitation from a public or private institution
- Proof of finances, education, employment, and relationship with a Mexican citizen
Planning on a very long-term stay in Mexico? At least 30 days before your current Temporary Resident Card expires, you have to apply for a renewal at the Instituto Nacional de Migración.