Before COVID-19, flexible work arrangements had been a trend in the ever-changing world of work, but the public health crisis has accelerated the mass-adoption of remote working to ensure business continuity in these turbulent times.
In Switzerland, the number of people working from home has doubled during the COVID-19, according to a Deloitte study. Before COVID-19, around 25% of respondents were working from home at least one a week, the survey shows. After the crisis, however, 34% believe that they will be working from home at least once a week.
In respond to the rapidly changing working environment, some countries have shifted away from traditional tourism models that rely on short-term visitors to targeting remote workers and digital nomads willing to stay for longer periods.
Several countries including Germany, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Mexico have already been providing special residency schemes and visa programs of relevance to freelancers and remote workers for a few year now. But this year, at least nine jurisdictions have introduced digital nomad visas to attract overseas professionals and more countries are slated to join in the near future.
Dubai (UAE): Virtual Working Program (Oct 2020)
Dubai announced in October 2020 a new one-year residency program targeted at overseas remote workers, digital nomads and their families.
The so-called “virtual working” program gives these professionals the possibility relocate to the emirate and continue to work for their current overseas employer, while securing key documents required to rent housing, access banking services, and settle down.
Estonia: Digital Nomad Visa (Aug 2020)
Estonia officially launched its Digital Nomad Visa in August 2020, which allows remote workers to live in Estonia for up to one-year and legally work for their employer or their own company registered abroad.
Estonia is one of the world’s most digitally developed countries. It already has a very unique e-Residency program which allows people to create and run a business online from anywhere in the world.
Bermuda: Work from Bermuda Certificate (Aug 2020)
Bermuda launched a new program in August 2020 that allows executives and students to work and study remotely from the island for a year.
The Work from Bermuda Certificate program, which involves a US$263 application fee per person, also includes the flexibility to travel back and forth home from Bermuda during the one-year period.
Georgia: Remotely from Georgia (July 2020)
Georgia launched in July 2020 a new program that allows foreign citizens to travel to and work remotely from the country. The Remotely from Georgia program is designed for freelancers, full-time employees or business owners looking to stay for at least 360 days without a visa per their passport or other travel document.
Countries in the Caribbean
Cayman Islands: Global Citizen Concierge Program (Oct 2020)
The Cayman Islands launched its Global Citizen Concierge Program in October 2020, allowing professionals and digital nomads alike to work remotely from the country for up to 24 months.
Individual applicants must prove that they’re employed outside of the Cayman Islands and that they make at least US$100,000 a year. If they are applying with an accompanying spouse or civil partner, they must make a minimum of US$150,0000 annually.
Antigua and Barbuda: Nomad Digital Residence (Sept 2020)
Antigua and Barbuda announced its new Nomad Digital Residence Program in September 2020, which allows persons and their dependents to reside on the island for up to two years and to travel in and out of the county during that period.
Individual applicants must work remotely for companies and individuals outside of Antigua and Barbuda, and must earn at least US$50,000 a year.
Aruba: One Happy Workation (Sept 2020)
Launched in September 2020, Aruba’s One Happy Workation program allows US passport holders to stay and work remotely in Aruba from one week up to 90 days.
The program offers them package deals and discounted rates at local hotels, chain resorts, and rental homes. Eligibility criteria include being employed by a company or be self-employed in their home country.
Anguilla: Digital Nomad package (Aug 2020)
Since late-August, 2020, the British territory of Anguilla has been allowing remote workers to live and work on the island for either up to three months or up to a year.
A stay under three months costs US$1,000 for individuals and US$1,500 for a family of four. Entrance fees, which double for longer stays, cover two COVID-19 tests, a digital work permit and other costs.
Barbados: Barbados Welcome Stamp (June 2020)
Barbados announced the introduction of its 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp in June 2020. The new remote work program establishes a visa to allow people to work remotely in Barbados for a maximum of 12 months.
The visa is available to anyone who meets the visa requirements and whose work is location independent, whether individuals or families.
In Croatia, the government has been working on a digital nomad visa program, which will allow internationals who are engaged in jobs independent of location and time, to work and reside in Croatia.
And in Iceland, the government recently amended regulations to allow foreign nationals remotely working for foreign companies, or self-employed, to apply for a long-term visa that allows them and their families to stay in Iceland for up to six months.
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