Escape COVID with a remote worker visa to these countries [UPDATED]
If COVID has got you down and you’re already working remotely, why not consider living abroad for a year? Pre-pandemic, this usually meant you’d become a “digital nomad” and give up your life to travel the world and work remotely. That’s no longer the case. Now, many countries around the world are launching a remote worker visa that allow you to stay for extended periods of time if you have a remote job. If you can prove you’re employed, they know you can sustain yourself in their country, so you are welcome to stay for up to a year or more in some cases.
Dreaming of a beach? Or working from an actual castle? Here’s our round up of where you can get a remote worker visa.
Nestled in Eastern Europe, Georgia is a country with history tracing back to the 10th century and before. Often mistaken for the American state of Georgia in name only, the country of Georgia was a former part of the Russian empire.
Remote work visas in Georgia explicitly apply to freelancers, full-time employees, and business owners who can make an income regardless of their location. You have to stay for a minimum of 180 days to qualify for the visa and you can stay for over a year without needing to apply for a traditional residency visa.
Barbados is an English-speaking nation in the West Indies, a part of the Caribbean near the Dominican Republic. Still part of the Commonwealth, Barbados currently recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as their constitutional monarch. However, much like Canada, the country has a parliament and a Prime Minister governing everyday affairs.
Remote workers can get a Barbados Welcome Stamp, which allows for up to 12 months of living and working from the island. The Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said that the stamp would allow “persons to come and work from here overseas, digitally so, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are” in a speech in July 2020.
Another British overseas territory that’s part of the Commonwealth, Bermuda is a small island in the Atlantic ocean. Despite not being known as a tourist destination, the country has an incredibly high standard of living and a high GDP per capita, making it an attractive destination for people.
The 1-year residency visa was expanded when COVID hit to include anyone who can “demonstrate sufficient means and/or continuous source of annual income without the need to engage in gainful employment in Bermuda.” You can also apply for this visa if you are a student. The only other key is that you have to prove you have health insurance and can’t have been convicted of an “indictable offence.”
Another former member of Russian empire, Estonia is one of the most digital-first civilizations in the world. Despite its medieval roots and historic cities, citizens and residents of Estonia benefit from blazing fast wifi, digital elections, and an app for nearly every government service.
Branded a digital nomad visa, it applies to anyone who can provide they work via the internet (i.e. remotely) and don’t need to be in any one physical location to earn their money, whether a salary or through your business. You also have to prove that you’ve earned over 3,500 euros (about $4,200 USD or $5,000 CAD) per month for the 6 months before you apply for a visa. So if you’re earning over $50,000 per year, chances are you’ll qualify.
A beautiful island nation on the eastern coast of Africa near Madagascar and the Reunion Islands, Mauritius just launched its remote worker visa program. The country itself used to be part of the UK, but got independence in 1968. Now, over 1.2 million people call the island home.
The Premium Travel Visa is for anyone who is a remote worker and wants to stay in Mauritius but not enter its labor force. If you can prove you earn money outside of Mauritius, along with “other basic immigration requirements,” then you can be approved for a long stay in the country.
Traditionally seen in the US and Canada as an offshore haven for corporations, the Cayman Islands is also a major tourist destination. While still in the Commonwealth, the nation became self-controlling in 1959 and separated from the government of Jamaica in 1962. Now, the country is a thriving small island with a high GDP per capita and high quality of living, much like Bermuda.
The Global Citizen Concierge (GCC) visa program allows you to come and stay in the Cayman Islands for up to 2 years, provided you can prove you earn income from outside sources and won’t need to work locally. The website explicitly encourages digital nomads, which is an update since the COVID pandemic started.
Dubai made world headlines for nearly rebuilding the city from scratch coming into the 21st century. Funded by profits from oil initially, Dubai has emerged into a global economic centre for business and sports. It also boasts things like the world’s largest malls and some of the world’s tallest buildings.
Under the Work Remotely From Dubai program, you can stay in the Gulf nation for up to one year. To apply, you have to prove you have medical insurance, income of at least $5,000 USD per month, and pay the registration fee.
The land of Bjork recently expanded their remote worker visa program, called Work from Iceland. Under the terms of the visa, remote workers can stay in the country for up to six months if they can prove either employment with a foreign company or self-employment.
The catch, as reported by Travel & Leisure, is the relatively high income requirement. To qualify for the visa, you have to prove you make the equivalent of about $88,000 USD per year. By comparison, you only need to prove income of $60,000 USD per year to get Dubai’s remote worker visa.