Digital nomads and visas: what you need to know about working abroad

Whether you dream of traveling or live vicariously, here's everything you need to know about remote work abroad.

Whether you dream of traveling or live vicariously, here’s everything you need to know about remote work abroad.

Photo by whereslugo via Unsplash

As remote work increasingly becomes a new norm, some American workers have become digital nomads, abandoning their home office to work remotely abroad.

The number of American immigrants Mexico reached a “record high” this year, the Mexico News Daily reported in early November. More than 8,000 Americans have received temporary resident visas in Mexico so far this year — an increase linked to remote workers, the outlet reported, citing data from the country’s Interior Ministry.

Whether you’re trying to figure out this new work trend or considering joining, here’s everything you need to know about digital nomad visas and the reality of remote work abroad.

What are digital nomads and digital nomad visas?

A digital nomad is someone who works remotely from outside their home country, according to Investopedia. By extension, digital nomad visas are visa programs specifically targeted or often used by these types of people to allow them to legally work abroad.

What are the pros and cons of digital nomads?

The rise of digital nomads has resulted in a complex mix of advantages and disadvantages for workers, host countries and local residents.

For host country governments, digital nomads are often a source of income because they spend money during off-peak seasons and stay longer than other tourists, Euronews reported. In Europe, educated foreign workers are also compensating for aging populations and “brain drain”.

For digital nomads, working abroad is an opportunity to travel while pursuing their careers and having a stable income, reports Investopedia. Tax implications Working overseas, however, can be complicated and vary by company and country, International Citizens reported.

For local residents, the presence of foreign teleworkers — and their higher purchasing power — often contributes to shift and gentrification, Fast Company reported. This “imbalance of power” between locals and wealthier outsiders is being labeled and criticized as neo-colonialism, the newspaper reported.

Mexico has experienced thesetraps“, reported Vox. Rising housing costs and rising inflation have only worsened with the arrival of America’s digital nomads. The “sharp” racial, ethnic and class disparities between American workers wealthier, whiter and local Mexicans have made these issues “hard to stomach,” the outlet reported.

Which countries offer digital nomad visas?

Nearly 50 countries offer digital nomad visas under a variety of names, according to a regularly updated list by Nomad Girl. Many of these countries are warm, tropical and tourist-friendly.

Here are 10 countries from five different regions offering digital nomad visas:

Remote work from Europe:

  • Malta: A small island nation suspended in the Mediterranean Sea between the southern coast of Italy and the northern coast of Libya, Malta offers a one-year stay nomadic residence permit intended for non-European teleworkers. The candidates for the visa $340 must prove that they have a rental contract and that their income exceeds $2,800 per month.

  • Portugal: A small country on the southwestern coast of Europe known for its beaches, Portugal offers a one-year renewable D7 Remote work / Digital Nomad Visa. The Visa at $93 depends on proof of monthly income and Employment contract.

Other European countries offering digital nomad visas include, by Nomad Girl and euro news: Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Montenegro, Norway, Romania and Spain.

Working remotely from Africa:

  • Mauritius: Island state off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius offers a one-year stay Premium Visa no filing fees. The visa requires proof of monthly but accurate income no minimum amount.

  • Namibia: A neighbor to the northwest of South Africa, Namibia is the first country on the African continent to offer digital nomad visas. Namibia launched its Digital nomad visa in mid-October. The six-month visa costs around $60 and requires the applicant to have a monthly income of $2,000.

Other countries in Africa and the Middle East offering digital nomad visas include, per Nomad Girl: Cape Verde, the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and the Seychelles.

Remote work from Asia:

  • Indonesia: The Southeast Asian island nation that includes Bali, Indonesia does not offer official digital nomad visa — again — but offers several tourist visas that unofficially perform the same function, Nomads Embassy reported. The two most popular options are the 30-day tourist visa renewal on arrival and the Bali B211a visa renewable for up to six months.

  • Thailand: Thailand, a Southeast Asian country, offers a 10-year contract Long-term resident visa with high education and annual income requirements. However, like those in Indonesia, American digital workers in Thailand will travel to a 60 day tourist visawhich can be renewed in the country for an additional 30 days.

Other Asian countries offering digital nomad visas include, per Nomad Girl: Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

Remote work from Central and South America:

  • Costa Rica: Costa Rica, a tropical country in Central America, offers a one year Remote workers and service providers Visa. The $100 visa requires applicants to earn at least $3,000 per month.

  • Mexico: Bordering the southern United States, Mexico offers Temporary resident visa with a minimum stay of six months and a maximum of four years. The visa costs $48 and requires a monthly income of at least $2,108, although this varies with the exchange rate.

Other countries in Central and South America offering digital nomad visas include, by Nomad Girl and Travelway of life: Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama.

Working remotely from the Caribbean:

  • The Bahamas: A chain of Caribbean islands and a popular beach vacation destination, the Bahamas has a Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay program. Applying for the one year visa costs $1,025 in total and requires a letter from the applicant’s current employer.

  • Barbados: An island in the Eastern Caribbean, Barbados has a digital nomad visa program called the Barbados welcome stamp. The one-year program costs $2,000 for individual applicants and requires an annual income of $50,000.

Other Caribbean countries offering digital nomad visas include, per Nomad Girl: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat and Saint Lucia.

Aspen Pflughoeft covers real-time news for McClatchy. She graduated from Minerva University where she studied communications, history and international politics. Previously, she reported for Deseret News.

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