The Rise of Remote Work Visas: The New Phenomenon Shaping the Future of Work

For freelancers who love to travel, remote-work visas have opened a vista into the world of digital nomadism. As more countries move to reduce restrictions on international travel, the number of applicants for these visas is set to increase.
Carolyne Njeri

Carolyne Njeri

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For freelancers who love to travel, remote-work permits have opened a vista into the world of digital nomadism. And as more countries move to reduce restrictions on international travel, the number of applicants for these visas is set to increase.

Although Covid-19 measures had temporarily interfered with travel, leading to a 46.4% decrease in the number of global flights compared to last year, many governments have now eased up their border laws to allow for more traveling.

To recoup from the setbacks of the pandemic, some countries are also offering remote-work visas to foreigners at lucrative fees. This type of visa will allow you to work and live from wherever you want in the host country, so long as you can show proof of salary and oblige to their tax laws.

Some countries offering these work visas include vacation destinations like Barbados, Bermuda, and the United Arab Emirates, where freelancers can apply to live and work for extended periods. However, the requirements for applicants differ from country to country. In Bermuda, for instance, an application costs $263 per person and lasts 12 months given that the applicant is employed by a foreign company or can show that they have a continuous annual income.

Also, since many companies are promising to let a majority of their employees continue to work remotely, the idea of working and living abroad is not too far from reality for some. Surveys show that more than 60% of employees would prefer to work away from the office permanently. So if your idea of remote work involves waking up to a view of the ocean or living in a historic European city, then a remote-work visa is for you.

Digital Nomadism: The Future of Work?

The Rise of Remote Work Visas: The New Phenomenon Shaping the Future of Work
Source: Shutterstock

In 2019, more than 7.3 million workers in the US considered themselves “digital nomads”. This is a group of people that live location-independent lifestyles, working while traveling the world. Thanks to technology, people can work from anywhere they want, and freelancers with wanderlust are taking advantage of the opportunity. Now that the pandemic has made remote working a necessity for some companies, even more people are experiencing the need for a change of scenery. That’s why more than 1,000 people applied for remote work visas to Barbados only a week after they were announced.

The pandemic has brought into question the validity of the traditional office setup since many employees and companies alike thrived during the work-from-home boom since March. Therefore, people are now opting to give up their office spaces in favor of beaches and mountain sceneries. The increase in the number of countries offering remote-work visas will without a doubt nudge more freelancers towards international locations for work.

Perks of a remote-work visa

The Rise of Remote Work Visas: The New Phenomenon Shaping the Future of Work
Source: wirestock

Some countries lack visa laws that cater to digital nomads and freelancers. Because these types of work lifestyles are still fairly new in most countries, legislation is yet to catch up with them. But recently, places like Georgia, Estonia, and Barbados are recognizing these types of workers and offering them special “freelance visas” or “remote-work visas” to lure them into working for their countries. Digital nomads are beneficial to their host countries as they increase tourist activity, and contribute to the economy through payment of taxes.

Here are the perks of applying for a remote work visa:

  • They last longer than tourist visas

A typical tourist visa lasts one to three months, after which you would be legally required to renew it, or risk deportation. While the term “renewal” may make it sound straightforward, in most scenarios, it translates to long lines at embassies, numerous bureaucracies, or even rejection. Remote-work visas, on the other hand, last anywhere from six months to three years, giving you enough time to work without having to constantly renew your visa. Additionally, in some countries, working on a tourist visa is illegal, so you’ll be required to apply for a special visa to allow you to work while in the country. 

  • You’ll enjoy lower costs of living

Working as a freelancer in a foreign country can be very cost-effective. This is especially true if you’re moving from a large city in a developed country, to a location in the Caribbean or the Caucasus. Countries in these regions are cheaper to live in because the cost of food, rent, transport, and the internet are generally low. As a remote-work expat, you also won’t be subjected to the exorbitant prices that normal tourists endure while on holiday. 

  • You’ll work and enjoy your vacation at the same time

For most freelancers, life involves moving from project to project all-year-round without taking a break. Because the gig economy is inherently competitive, some freelancers may get too involved in their work, neglecting to spare time for relaxation. However, even the most workaholic person cannot resist taking some time away from work if they’re working from picturesque locales. Remote visas allow you to work from wherever you choose in your host country, which makes it easier to work and travel simultaneously.

  • Faster integration into the country

Under Dubai’s one-year virtual working program, you can apply to live in the city for 12 months, be able to open a local bank account, get a local phone number and even enroll your children in schools there. Such programs are not limited to the UAE alone; many countries with remote-work visas are setting up frameworks to make it easier for digital nomads to blend in. These accelerated privileges enable freelancers to carry out their operations with ease. In comparison, tourist visas have very limited capabilities.

  • Travelling is good for your health

Although working from home is highly convenient, and more relaxing compared to your traditional work station, it may become too monotonous too fast. Cramped apartments in polluted cities hardly make for a conducive work environment. But you can easily trade in the view of the concrete jungle for one of the pristine beaches of Barbados or the snowy caps of Georgia. Moving away from the humdrum of loud cities, to calmer, more remote areas can be beneficial for your physical as well as your mental health. It can give you a chance to live a significantly less stressful lifestyle, improve your work-life balance, while at the same time allowing you to immerse yourself in new cultures.

The Takeaway

To combat the economic effects of the pandemic on tourism, some countries like Aruba, Estonia, and Georgia are offering visas to freelancers and digital nomads to encourage them to visit their countries. These remote-work visas are helpful because they allow the holder to work from whatever location they choose, and have an easier time doing business compared to tourist-visa holders. Remote-work visas are also easier to acquire than regular work visas since the holders contribute to the economy without threatening the jobs of the host country’s workforce.

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