For the large part of the year, the pandemic made people stay at home, embrace boredom and keep away from interacting with people and moving around, lest they risked contracting or spreading the COVID-19 infection. But from this boredom came about a unique trend of countries offering people remote work visas. In other words, some countries welcomed tourists as part of their work station programme (work + vacation), to keep their boredom at home and meet their professional deadlines from another part of the world.
This escapist deal has appealed to many people from around the world. It has also benefited countries who have tried to recuperate from their COVID-19-induced losses — which came about after borders were shut and travelling had stopped — reviving their economy through their travel sector.
As we inch closer to the end of this eventful year, here is a quick summary of some of the countries that welcomed people to come and work from the safety and comfort of a new place, boosting the local economy without displacing local residents.
* Barbados: Earlier this year, the Caribbean country — under a new government scheme, the ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ — started taking applications for international tourists, tempting them with the opportunity to work remotely on the island’s beautiful beaches for up to one year.
In order to qualify, applicants must earn at least USD 50,000 (INR 36,98,335) per year, and also have health insurance in place. Additionally, the remote work visa will require payment of either USD 2,000 (INR 1,47,933) per person or USD 3,000 (INR 2,21,900) per family.
* Georgia: Georgia’s visa program is for remote workers and those who are self-employed. According to its Ministry of Economy, the new visa has been designed for digital nomads who are planning to stay in the country for six months or more. Those who wish to apply will have to earn a minimum of USD 2,000 (INR 1,47,933) a month so that they are able to pay taxes in Georgia. They will also need health insurance for their stay.
* Dubai: The city in the United Arab Emirates has announced a ‘one-year virtual working programme’ that will allow remote workers — along with their families — to stay in the city for up to a year while working for their organisations in other countries. In order to get the visa, you are required to prove that you draw a salary of a minimum of USD 5,000 a month (INR 3,69,319) by submitting your proof of employment, previous month’s payslip, and three months’ bank statements, according to the tourism board’s website. Additionally, as an applicant, you must pay a fee of USD 287 (INR 21,204) and are required to have medical insurance that is valid in the UAE as well as a passport that doesn’t expire for at least another six months from the time of application, per instructions.
* Estonia: The Republic of Estonia launched its Digital Nomad Visa in August 2020. Claiming to be the first-of-its-kind in the European Union, the visa will allow remote workers to live and legally work in the country for up to a year, according to the Republic of Estonia’s e-Residency website.
* Portugal: Just like many other countries, Portugal’s visa program offers a temporary residence for remote workers. But to avail the opportunity, applicants will need to ensure their skills are required in the country. According to reports, they will be required to register as a freelancer in the country first. It will be helpful if they have local Portuguese clients.
* Bermuda: Another country offering remote work visas, Bermuda recently launched its new “residency certificate policy”. In order to qualify, you must not be over 18 years of age, and you must supply proof of employment and/or enrolment in an educational program. Additionally, you must possess health insurance, provide means of a continuous source of income, the Bermuda Government directs.
* Antigua and Barbuda: The Caribbean country launched a ‘Nomad Digital Residence scheme’, allowing eligible applicants to stay for up to two years. Its Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in a statement: “You can work in any part of the world from Antigua as if you were in your office or home”. But, you are only eligible if your earnings fall in a certain bracket. The programme is open to those earning at least USD 50,000 (INR 36,66,130) a year — the applications cost USD 1,500 (INR 1,09,983.90) for a single applicant, USD 2,000 (INR 1,46,645.20) per couple and USD 3,000 (INR 2,19,967.80) for a family of three.
* Germany: The country has a permit program in place, targeted at remote workers and freelancers. Its freelance visa will be for three months, and it can potentially be converted into a residency permit. Applicants are required to show proof of income, letters of recommendation from previous employers, along with travel insurance.