Guest post by Lola Méndez
Living overseas is an exciting option for anyone who can work from home. During the global COVID-19 crisis more and more workers are turning to freelance projects or working from home for the foreseeable future as the pandemic has changed the way we live and work. If you’re looking to take advantage of this new-found location freedom, there are several countries that encourage American citizens to visit their countries for extended stays.
Several nations have launched extended visas with work permissions as an attractive option for digital nomads who are keen to work abroad in Europe and the Caribbean. These countries are offering temporary long-stay visas with legal permission to work virtually—most for up to a year’s time. Here’s everything you need to know about these countries that are offering one-year visas for remote workers.
Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, Saint Anne's Road, Cross Bay, Bermuda / @seitamaaphotography
The island of Bermuda launched a certificate for remote workers on August 1, 2020 to stimulate the local economy. The Work from Bermuda certificate program allows international visitors to become a Bermuda resident with the opportunity to do research, study, or work from the island for a year with the option to renew. As a Bermuda resident, you have the opportunity to enroll your children into private schools for the year, making this a great option for families. With the certificate, you can travel in and out of the island without restrictions for up to a year.
What could be better than working in paradise? However there are a few important caveats to be aware of. Applicants must be at least eighteen, have valid health insurance coverage, and pay a one-time fee of $263. To receive the certificate you must be employed (or work for yourself) with a company registered and operated outside of Bermuda and have the financial means to support yourself. This isn’t a work visa for those who want to work for local companies. If you’re headed to the island to study you need to be enrolled in a Research, Undergraduate, Graduate, or Doctorate Program.
If you earn over $50,000 a year Barbados welcomes you to come for a long-term stay in the Caribbean. The 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, which launched on July 19, 2020, allows people to work from the island for a year.
The visa application process is quite simple with clear instructions regarding which documents are required for submission. Upon approval, a non-refundable fee is due of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families. The year-long visa can be renewed. Make note that those who obtain the visa will not be liable for Barbados Income Tax.
The Estonian Digital Nomad Visa program for remote workers was launched on August 1, 2020. The visa is not to be confused with the e-Residency which doesn’t include travel privileges to stay in Estonia. The Digital Nomad Visa doesn’t provide citizenship or permanent residency, but it does allow people to stay in Estonia on a temporary basis to live and work remotely for up to a year. The visa is available for those who work for a non-Estonian employer or as a freelancer with clients mostly outside of Estonia.
The application can be downloaded online and taken with all other required documents to your region’s Estonian embassy, and then you will hear back within a month. The application fee is €80 for a short stay (type C) visa and €100 for a long stay (type D) visa. You must meet the income threshold in order to be eligible by providing evidence of your income of at least $2,750 a month during the six months preceding your application.
Gudauri Street, Tbilisi, Georgia / @vivek_mv
Georgia has been welcoming foreign digital nomads to work from the country since well before the pandemic with the country’s standard 365-day tourist and work visa. The Georgian remote work visa is one of the easiest to obtain and most cost-efficient as the cost of living in the Eurasian country is quite low. The "Remotely from Georgia" program requires a commitment to working remotely in Georgia for at least six months and up to one year.
To obtain permission for the work visa you must prove a monthly income of at least $2,000 a month and have private health insurance that’s valid in Georgia. It’s free to apply for the visa and processing takes just 10 days.
While it’s not a year-long visa, Aruba has just announced a new visa-free 90-day program, “One Happy Workation.” Previously, Americans could only stay in Aruba for tourist reasons for a month. There’s no application process but travelers will have to adhere to the island’s COVID travel protocols.
Remote workers are required to stay for at least a week to participate in the program but can stay for up to 90 days. To remove the hassle of finding your own accommodation the program has partnered with a collection of hotels and villas that have formed special long-term stay packages which include complimentary WiFi as well as all-inclusive options that include meals.
More countries are expected to follow
Many other countries are currently considering legislation that would allow foreign remote workers to legally live and work within their borders. In August 2020, Croatia announced the country is going to start a digital nomad visa program soon.
In September 2020, Costa Rica put forth a bill before congress that if passed would allow qualified remote workers to stay in the Central American country for up to a year with a tourist visa specifically for digital nomads. Applicants will likely need to demonstrate an income of at least $5,000 a month and verified healthcare coverage. The cost to apply for the visa is expected to be $300. The legislation is expected to be expedited and may officially become available in the coming months.
Anguilla is accepting online applications from remote workers who want to live in the country. For stays from three months to a year, the fee is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families of up to four persons and $250 for additional family members.
Lola Méndez is an Uruguayan-American freelance journalist. She's a full-time globetrotter who travels to develop her own worldview and has explored over 60 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel, she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow along on her responsible travel blog MissFilatelista.com, and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.