The pandemic has shaped the world of travel and work, and economic losses continue to mount in tourism-dependent countries as people remain reluctant to travel, as work-from-home remains the norm. However, some nations have a new way to combine a vacation destination and work: the digital nomad visa.
Available to workers, students, and freelancers (requirements and costs vary), digital nomad visas allow travellers to legally live and work in another country. Most regions offering digital nomad visas already have infrastructure like strong wifi, and due to their remote nature, they’re safe havens from the COVID-19 virus.
Who has Digital Nomad Visas?
According to Investopedia, there were 24 regions offering the visas as of July 2021, but not all are suitable for those without an existing employment. Some countries require applicants to have an annual income of up to US$100,000! A prerequisite for most is travel insurance and some form of income. Here are some plausible options if you’re not a high net worth individual:
Bali (5 years)
Bali has delayed its launch of the anticipated nomad visa which would enable you to work there for up to 5 years. Those earning income outside of Indonesia won’t need to pay income tax.
Bermuda (1 year)
The “Work From Bermuda Certificate” is unique in that students can apply – just provide proof of enrollment in an undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or research programme. Those planning to work remotely here (no income tax payable) will need to provide proof of employment or ownership of a business. All applicants will need to provide proof of sufficient income to support themselves. The certificate permit is valid for 1 year, renewable on a case-by-case basis.
Costa Rica (2 years~)
For their temporary residency visa, “Rentista”, prospective visitors need to have a monthly income of US$2,500 (guaranteed for two years) or make a US$60,000 deposit at a local bank. You’ll need to pay a social security fund and voluntary insurance, which is around 9-10% of your stated monthly income. The 2-year permit is renewable as long as all requirements are met.
Curaçao (6-12 months)
This Dutch Caribbean island’s “@HOME in Curaçao” programme lets you work remotely, and you don’t need to be employed if you’re a freelancer with proper contracts. To be eligible, you must prove that you can work location-independently. No income tax is payable. The 6 month residency is renewable for another 6 months.
Georgia (1 year)
The Remotely From Georgia program enables digital nomads from up to 95 countries, including Singapore, to work within the former Soviet state. You only need to submit an online application form and provide financial proof for the duration of your stay, which is 1 year.
Germany (3 months – 3 years)
Germany’s “Freiberufler” residence permit is for freelancers and self-employed workers in the Liberal sector (healthcare, law, business counselling, science/technical, linguistic & information transmitting). They must obtain German health insurance and be registered with the tax office. The 3-month permit is extendable by up to 3 years, or converted into a residence permit.
Mauritius (6 months~)
For the “Premium Travel Visa” you’ll need to prove you have the minimum funds to meet the cost of stay in Mauritius, which is US$1,500 a month; you’ll also have to pay tax if staying beyond 180 days. The visa is valid for 1 year (a tourist visa is 180 days), with the potential for renewal.
Portugal (1-5 years)
Portugal offers a residence visa for independent workers who can provide proof of sufficient means to cover your entire stay or a term of responsibility signed by a Portuguese citizen. You’ll have to show contracts for providing services or proof of business ownership. The 1-year visa can be renewed twice, each time for an additional 2 years.
Taiwan (1-3 years)
The Taiwan Employment Gold Card is a four-in-one card, combining an open-ended work permit, resident visa, alien resident certificate, and re-entry permit – you can reside in Taiwan to seek employment, work remotely, and freely change jobs. It applies to certain industries, including STEM, education, culture & arts, law, architecture, and finance. The card is valid for 1-3 years, based on the assessment of your skills.
Thailand (5-20 years)
The Thai Elite Visa is more of a “membership” programme, where you pay for the privilege to live and work there for a period of 5, 10 or 20 years depending on the membership tier. Each vary in validity, benefits, and cost. The basic Elite Easy Access visa (5 years), at 600,000 baht, gets you expedited immigration clearance, and the more you pay, the more benefits you get, including free transport to your home and discounts on services like spas and hospitals.
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