Countries around the world are developing remote work visas to help aid economic recovery
For a change of scenery, the opportunity to work from paradise, a favorable business environment or all the above, there are many good reasons to consider working in another country. With a potentially long-term shift to working from home, countries around the world are developing remote work programs to attract skilled foreign talent. In 2021, these countries are prime destinations for anyone looking for remote work opportunities.
A running list of countries offering remote work visas
United Arab Emirates
The Government of Dubai has announced a new initiative to attract foreign workers and stimulate the country’s economic growth. Dubai’s economy is considered one of the most diverse in the world, Technology and research-based firms are key drivers of the country’s economy.
Developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai has unveiled the first remote work visa in the Middle East for foreign nationals. Qualified individuals can now work in Dubai for up to one year through the program while remaining employed by a company based overseas. Certain requirements must be met to qualify, and dependents and family members are permitted to join remote workers under the visa program.
Successful applicants must have a minimum monthly salary of USD $5,000 and proof of employment with a minimum work contract of 12 months. Proof of income is also required. Business owners can show proof of company ownership instead of an employment contract.
Iceland is an increasingly attractive destination for both U.S. and European employers and their workers. The technology sector has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country’s economy. Overall, Iceland’s economy has grown steadily since 2012.
To expand opportunities for talented foreign workers, Iceland recently launched a remote work visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the country for six months. The visa program allows qualified employees to bypass normal residency requirements, which allows them to start work in Iceland sooner.
To qualify for Iceland’s new program, individuals must have a minimum monthly income of ISK 1,000,000 (USD $7,722), or ISK 1,300,000 (USD $10,037) for workers who are traveling with dependents. Proof of employment outside of Iceland and proof of health insurance are required.
While many countries are shutting their borders during the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados is welcoming visitors with open arms. The Government of Barbados has launched a new program called the Barbados Welcome Stamp. This initiative gives foreign work visitors the ability to work remotely from Barbados for up to 12 months.
To qualify, applicants must earn at least USD $50,000 per year and must demonstrate adequate health insurance coverage. Upon a successful security screening and application payment of USD $2,000 (or USD $3,000 for families), workers wait about seven days for their application’s approval. Along with its sandy shores, Barbados is an appealing work destination for its increasing ease of starting a business, with information technology, healthcare and international financial services among its strongest sectors.
Bermuda offers a win-win scenario for companies and their employees. While their workers are lured by sunny skies and beaches, employers are attracted to Bermuda for its stable currency and government, and its strategic proximity to the U.S.
The Government of Bermuda has introduced a new Work from Bermuda Certificate that allows certain students and business professionals to work or study remotely in Bermuda. Currently, the certificate permits a 12-month maximum stay, with extensions available on a case-by-case basis. The application fee is only USD $263, and applicants typically receive notice of their application’s acceptance status within one week. Foreign workers must be at least 18 years old, show proof of employment or self-employment, and have a clean criminal record to qualify.
Mexico is an ideal location for workers seeking employment in a warmer climate. It is also close to the U.S. and located in the same time zone. Additionally, the World Bank reports that Mexico is an increasingly good place to start a business. Mexico has a temporary resident visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the country for up to one year and can be renewed every year after that for three more years. The temporary visa has a four-year maximum validity.
Prospective remote workers who want to work in Mexico must prove earnings of at least USD $1,620 per month for the past six months. Alternatively, they must have no less than USD $27,000 in their bank account to be issued the temporary resident visa. Additional information is available from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico for individuals who want to explore opportunities working in the country, including a list of required documentation.
Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda, an island nation in the Caribbean, has introduced a new remote work visa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The visa, which is called the Nomad Digital Residence (NDR), allows remote workers and their accompanying family members to join them in the country. The visa has a maximum two-year validity, and visitors must have sufficient health insurance coverage for the duration of their stay.
An annual income of USD $50,000 is required, and individuals must either own a location-independent business or work remotely for a company located outside of Antigua & Barbuda. The application can be completed electronically, and applicants must provide proof of employment and pass a police background check.
The Government of the Bahamas has introduced a new remote work option for students and foreign remote workers. The new permit, called the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) permit, is offered for workers and students. Qualified individuals may spend up to 12 months in the country, and the permit can be extended for up to three years. The average application processing time is just five days, and the application can be completed electronically. Certain conditions apply, including a requirement to show sufficient amounts of income.
Costa Rica has introduced a visa called Rentista, which allows foreign nationals to stay in the country for up to two years with the opportunity to extend the visa after its initial expiration. Individuals must have an income of USD $2,500 per month to be eligible for the program or make at least USD $60,000 per year, and income must be deposited in a Costa Rican bank. Applicants must be self-employed as the visa is not intended for individuals who work for another company. Applications can be submitted through the country’s Migracion Website along with an application fee of USD $250.
Croatia launched a digital work visa in January 2021, with a maximum validity of 12 months. Individuals must already be located in Croatia to apply—applications from abroad will not be accepted. Individuals must be self-employed or have the capacity to work remotely, and they must provide proof of either situation through a client contract, employment agreement, or similar documentation.
Successful applicants must pass a criminal background check and provide proof of accommodation while in the country. Health insurance must be obtained for the duration of the individual’s stay, and applicants must earn at least €2,500 per month to qualify. Applicants must obtain an OIB identification number and apply online.
Estonia was the first country to create an e-residency program allowing foreign national entrepreneurs to license a business based in the European Union (EU) online. In June 2020, the country created its first remote work visa for freelancers and remote workers. To qualify for the remote work visa, individuals must own a location-independent business or work remotely for a company located outside of Estonia. Applicants must have an income of at least €3,504 per month, and they must have had that income level for at least the past six months.
To apply, individuals must complete an application form online and sign electronically. They must then schedule an appointment at the closest Estonian Embassy or Consulate to apply in person. Estonia offers two visa categories: Type C (short stay) that costs €80 and Type D, which is a longer-stay visa that costs €100.
Georgia developed a remote work visa designed to attract skilled foreign workers and boost the country’s economy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify, individuals must own their own location-independent business. Additionally, or alternatively, they must work for a company based outside of Georgia. Qualified individuals must prove that they can pay taxes while living in Georgia, and they must have a minimum income of USD $2,000 per month. While COVID-19 restrictions are in place, a 14-day quarantine is required upon arrival. All travelers must have travel insurance with a six-month minimum duration. Interested individuals can complete an application online.
Before packing their bags, prospective travelers should check for any COVID-19 travel restrictions on their preferred remote work destination.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Brendan Coggan, who is the Head of Global Immigration at Envoy Global.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.