Working from home has become more and more common during the coronavirus pandemic. Offices around the world have closed and governments have advised people to social distance and avoid going out if possible.
Now, a number of countries around the world are offering people who are working remotely the chance to do their job from a more exotic location.
As the pandemic wears on, the opportunity to get a change of surroundings while doing their work appeals to many people.
Several islands in the Caribbean region and a handful of other countries have noticed the potential of enticing this type of foreign visitors to their shores to boost their economies at a time when the tourism industry is suffering.
There are now a number of destinations with schemes and visas in place to allow foreign nationals to stay for long periods working remotely for their jobs back at home.
Which Countries Are Offering Remote Work Visas?
Various countries and territories have started granting teleworking visas for foreign nationals who would rather work remotely from an exotic location than from their own homes.
The phenomenon has been noticed in many destinations. Some tourists have stayed longer than planned, lingering after their vacation has ended. The advantage of doing work on a laptop is that it can be done from anywhere with an internet connection. This new breed of traveler/worker has been dubbed the “digital nomad”.
Teleworkers tend to be drawn to destinations with nice weather, a relaxing atmosphere, and a low cost of living. This has the advantages of reducing stress and helping to give them a positive mindset, while allowing them to support themselves abroad for long periods.
There are advantages for the countries and territories in question too, in particular the money that visitors will spend on their accommodation, food, and other necessities.
Some states and territories have introduced a special visa for digital nomads to facilitate this new trend of remote working, including the following locations:
The Remote Working Visa for Bermuda
Government authorities in Bermuda noticed that a large number of visitors were applying to extend their 90-day visas after the British Overseas Territory reopened its borders in July. There were also a significant number of overseas travelers booking villas for months and joining gyms—clear signs that they intended to stay for longer periods than the average tourist.
The majority of Bermuda’s teleworking visitors came from the East coast of North America. Many were American and Canadian business people who had been taking weekend trips to the islands for years and had decided they would make a nice setting for remote work.
Bermuda was quick to act, implementing the Work from Bermuda programme and introducing a new residential certificate visa that allows digital nomads to stay in the territory for up to one year.
To obtain this new visa, remote workers must meet the following requirements:
- Have valid health insurance
- Prove sufficient funds to cover the stay
- Pay the visa fee
The Digital Nomad Visa for Estonia
Unlike the other countries mentioned above, the northern European nation of Estonia did not introduce its Digital Nomad Visa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been planning it for 2 years.
Estonia recognized that many people wanted to work remotely from another country even before coronavirus arrived on the scene. The country commissioned a survey in the US, which revealed that 57% of people would consider living abroad if they could work remotely. Among the most commonly-cited reasons were the lower cost of living and cultural experiences.
On top of this, it was suspected that many people were already working remotely while in another country using tourist visas.
Ott Vatter, the managing director of e-Residency for the Republic of Estonia said the following:
“We launched this visa because we saw an opportunity that no country was addressing. There was a substantial amount of people who were working illegally on holiday visas, so we thought, why not have the government solve this?”
On August 1, the Digital Nomad Visa for Estonia was officially launched.
In order to apply, foreign nationals must submit the following:
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of at least €3,504 ($4,180, £3,164) of monthly income in the last 6 months
- Payment for the visa
Anyone can apply for this visa, regardless of their nationality or field of work.
Remote Worker Visas for Other Countries
Barbados introduced its own scheme for digital nomads on July 24. The “Welcome Stamp” allows foreign nationals working remotely to stay on the Caribbean island for up to 12 months.
In Europe, meanwhile, Georgia has announced a similar programme for teleworkers.
Working Remotely: the Future
Most companies have historically resisted the idea of working remotely. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, many businesses have changed this line of thinking. In order to continue operating at a time when offices have been advised or ordered to close, companies have had to adapt to survive.
By allowing their employees to work from home, businesses have not only managed to stay afloat. They have also discovered that remote work is a viable option for the future.
There is no rush to return to offices. According to a poll conducted by the research and advisory company Gartner, 80% of company leaders intend to continue to permit remote work in one form or another after they are allowed to return to their office space.
This means that teleworking could now be a fixture of working life, perhaps even the norm. For the tourism industry, meanwhile, it appears that digital nomads may be a key demographic in the future of international travel.