Top Destinations for Online Fintech Workers and Digital Nomads in 2023by Fintechnews Switzerland January 3, 2023
Technological advances and the COVID-19 pandemic have spurred a rapid shift in working practices, prompting a growing number of people with jobs not tied to a specific location to travel the world all the while working remotely.
These changes in the world and the rise of so-called “digital nomads” have had important ramifications for immigration systems worldwide, pushing governments to factor remote work into their immigration systems and introduce digital nomad visas.
Since Estonia introduced the world’s first remote work program in 2019, at least 25 other countries and territories have launched their own digital nomad visa programs, according to a 2022 research by the Migration Policy Institute. These schemes typically provide visa holders with a time-limited opportunity to stay in the country and include tax benefits.
Given the flurry of options available out there, travel news website Travel Off Path recently released its selection of what it believe to be the world’s top destinations for digital nomads in 2023. These locations, namely Costa Rica, Croatia, Montenegro and Colombia, were recognized for providing the best immigration policies, living conditions, high affordability and superior quality infrastructure.
Today we’ll look at the reasons why these locations are so compelling to digital nomads, delving into what long-term travelers can expect when moving to these countries, as well as the requirements and eligibility criteria to secure a digital nomad visa in each of these locations. For this list, we’ve also added Dubai, building on the recent launch of its virtual working program and its long-standing position as a world leading hub for expats.
The emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known for its extensive expat community which made up 85% of the city’s population in 2013. These people have chosen the location for its many benefits, including attractive climate, many job opportunities, low taxes, low crime rate and superior qualify infrastructure.
Today, the city is ranked among the world’s best locations for expats and digital nomads, a position the government is looking to cultivate with the launch of its virtual working program.
Announced in 2020, Dubai’s virtual working program is similar to a digital nomad visa. The scheme allows foreigners, entrepreneurs, and startup companies to live in the emirate for one year and continue to work for the organization they already work for, remotely. The visa can be renewed for a further 12 months after that.
Eligibility criteria include being a foreigner employed outside the UAE and earning a minimum salary of US$5,000 per month.
To apply for the visa, the applicant must have a passport with a validity of minimum six months, have a valid health insurance covering their residency in the UAE, and pay the US$287 fee. They also need to provide proof of employment with a contract valid for one year as well as the salary slip for the last month and bank statements for the preceding three months.
If the applicant is a company owner, they will need to provide proof of ownership of company for one year or more, have an average monthly income of US$5,000 per month, and provide bank statements of the company’s account for the preceding three months.
Benefits of the virtual working program include access to all local services including telecommunications, utilities, medical and schooling; access to Dubai’s robust and seamless digital infrastructure; global networking opportunities; and zero income tax for individuals.
Costa Rica is a leading backpacker destination in Central America, recognized for its biodiversity, incredible national parks, as well as for being the global capital of adventure tourism.
In recent months, however, the country has taken center stage in the digital nomad scene by being among the limited few countries on the American continent to offer a digital nomad visa.
Launched just this year, Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa allows visa holders to work remotely from the country. The program extends a 90-day tourist visa to a full year, exempts digital nomads from income tax, and provides them with benefits such as the ability to open a national bank account and the validation of their home country’s driver’s license. Digital nomads may also waive customs taxes on telecommunications and electronic devices necessary to fulfill remote work requirements.
Eligibility criteria include earning a minimum of US$3,000 per month originating from outside of Costa Rica. That income requirement is increased to a minimum of US$4,000 per month if the applicant wishes to apply for their dependents to legally stay in the country. Applicants will need to provide proof of employment or of entrepreneurship, proof of income, and proof of health insurance running during their whole stay in Costa Rica.
The cost of the visa is US$1,000.
Croatia, a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, has become over the years one of the most popular European tourist destinations, owning to its beautiful protected natural areas, breathtaking landscapes, pleasant climate and rich cultural heritage.
Last year, the country became among the first members of the European Union (EU) to launch a digital nomad visa, allowing remote workers to reside in the country for up to a year and bring in their close family members.
The program is open to non-EU/EEA citizens working remotely, and to those with a stable monthly income of a minimum of EUR 2,300. Visa holders are exempted from income tax.
Applicants will need to show a proof of health insurance for the duration of their stay, provide proof of income, submit a clean criminal certification, and provide a booking confirmation or rental agreement. Their travel document will need to be valid for at least three months after the digital nomad visa’s expiration date.
Though still unknown by many, the tiny country of Montenegro in the Balkans is quickly becoming an up-and-coming expat destination, owing to its mild climate, beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and relaxed lifestyle.
The location is particularly popular among adventure seekers, thanks to its rugged geography which provides optimum conditions for snow sports during winter and stunning hiking trails in the summer.
This year, the government adopted changes to the Law on Foreigners, paving the foundations for new immigration policies for digital nomads. The details are still being finalized but some information have already been released.
According to the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, entrepreneurs and remote workers will be able to choose between schemes. The D Visa will be available to those looking to spend just a couple of months in the country, allowing visa holders to reside in Montenegro for up to 180 days in total during a one-year period, with multiple entries, if needed.
Those looking to stay longer can opt for a resident permit and will be required to provide proof of employment at a foreign company. The residence permit for digital nomads will be granted for two years, with the ability to extend for another two years at maximum.
Visa holders will be able to apply for residence permits for their spouse and children on the grounds of family unification.
Colombia is a culturally rich country, boasting pristine beaches, natural parks and beautiful colonial villages. Though its past reputation has dissuaded many foreigners to set foot on its shores, that trend is changing. Colombia is now beginning to attract a growing number of digital nomads and expats looking to enjoy its rich culture, diverse topography and low cost of living.
This year, the country introduced its digital nomad visa, allowing foreign nationals the opportunity to work from Colombia for up to two years. The scheme is available to those who wish to provide services as remote workers from Colombia, provided that these individuals do not work for a company with a presence in the country. The visa is also open to people who wish to start a business in the field of digital or information technology.
Another requirement is that the person applying for this visa must have a health insurance policy with coverage for any unforeseen event that may arise while in Colombia.
The program has been deemed one of the most affordable digital nomad visas in the world, requiring applicants to earn at least US$684 per month, a threshold that’s much lower that locations like Costa Rica which requires a minimum of US$3,000 per month.
Other requirements include having a valid passport that’s not set to expire during the temporary residence, show proof of earnings, take out health insurance, undergo a background back, and pay the application fee of US$22.8.
Featured image credit: edited from freepik