This post was originally published on January 29, 2021.
Amid the pandemic, more companies worldwide have embraced the concept of remote work, giving employees leeway to perform their jobs from home—or a different city or country altogether.
As the concept of remote work becomes more acceptable, workers have taken this chance to expand their horizons, both literally and figuratively—just ask the people who’ve vacated Silicon Valley.
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What are remote-work visas?
In late 2020, several countries began offering visas that permit foreign nationals to live in the country if they are engaging in remote work with a company back home or anywhere else—as long as it’s not locally. It’s a win-win. The countries benefit from these foreign workers’ local spending, while the workers get to experience something different, oftentimes trading densely populated cities for scenic beaches or bucolic hills.
The countries providing such visas are scattered across continents, giving remote workers and freelancers plenty of options. Here are some of the countries offering remote-work visas worth checking out.
Top 8 countries with remote-work visas
Visa terms: Up to 360 days for free
In August 2020, Georgia launched Remotely from Georgia, a program that lets remote workers live and work in the country for at least 360 days.
The application process is relatively simple. Besides completing an online application form, remote workers will need to have had a minimum income of 2,000 USD a month for the previous 12 months, and they need to have health insurance for the first six months of their stay.
Upon their arrival in Georgia, all applicants have to quarantine for eight days at a government-approved hotel and perform a PCR test at their own expense.
Visa terms: 263 USD for a year
Like Georgia, Bermuda launched its state-wide Work From Bermuda visa for remote workers.
Applications for the island’s remote-work visa take about 30 minutes to fill out online and just five working days for approval. All applicants need to provide proof of employment at a company registered outside of Bermuda, possess adequate health insurance, and have “substantial means and/or a continuous source of annual income.”
Another pull factor to consider? Remote workers do not have to pay local income tax.
Visa terms: 80 EUR for a short-stay visa (90 days within the period of 180 days) and 100 EUR for a long-stay visa (a year)
The European country has a vibrant startup scene that attracts digital nomads and remote workers alike, so it makes total sense that they’ve launched a Digital Nomad Visa. The visa allows international citizens to work and live in Estonia for up to a year on different visa schemes.
To qualify, applicants must have proof of employment with a company registered outside Estonia, meet the minimum income threshold of 3,504 EUR in the six months preceding the application, and prove that they can work remotely. Applicants need to fill an application form and proceed to the nearest Estonian embassy or consulate for submission. Applications are reviewed within 30 days.
What’s more, holders of Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa can travel to the 25 other countries of the Schengen Area, which includes nearly all EU countries plus several others like Norway and Switzerland. Get the full list of countries here.
4. Czech Republic
Visa terms: 234 USD for a year
The Czech Republic has a unique business visa that allows remote workers to remain for up to a year. However, the application process takes longer than the other remote-work visas on this list and needs to be requested in person at an embassy or consulate. Visas are processed in around 90 to 120 working days.
Applicants will also need to prove they have 110,000 CZK (about 5,100 USD) in the bank, provide documents confirming their purpose of work, and supply a health declaration form.
5. Costa Rica
Visa terms: 250 USD for two years
Costa Rica is one of the latest countries to offer remote-work visas.
Under the scheme, applications are said to benefit from an expedited process, but the requirements aren’t as simple as some of the other countries’. Besides having to meet necessary conditions such as an income of 2,500 USD per month for the previous two years, applicants for the remote-work visa will need to apply through an immigration lawyer. All documents will have to be translated into Spanish.
Visa terms: 60 EUR for three months
As one of Europe’s most prominent startup hubs, Germany has a three-month Freiberufler (freelance) visa that could turn into a residency permit.
To qualify for the freelance visa, applicants will need to verify that their jobs are considered a liberal profession and must be of economic interest to Germany. According to Germany’s tax office, professions in the field of healthcare, law, science, amongst others are considered liberal professions. Freelancers will also need to register with Germany’s tax office.
To apply, applicants must produce recommendation letters from previous employers, proof of income, and travel insurance. For an entire list of requirements, visit Germany’s immigration site here.
Visa terms: 72 CAD for visa and 414 CAD for a migratory fee for visitors with permission to conduct remunerated activities.
Mexico has a digital nomad visa called the temporary residence visa. While the visa is open to everyone around the world, applicants will need to meet a few income requirements such as having a bank balance of 76,919 CAD for the last twelve months and income of 4,615 CAD a month for the last six months.
In addition, there are several other documents that applicants will need to file, depending on their relationship status. More information about these documents can be found here. Applicants will also need to make an appointment via their MiConsulado system.
Visa terms: 287 USD for a year
Dubai is offering free Covid-19 vaccinations in a bid to lure remote workers to take up its virtual- working program. If that’s not enough, application fees for the program are inclusive of medical coverage valid in the U.A.E.
To apply for the program, applicants will need to meet an average monthly income of 5,000 USD, and provide proof of employment and related bank information.
All applicants will need to apply on the VisitDubai site here.
All set to become a digital nomad? Don’t forget your VPN
If you’re ready to take the leap to work from a different country for a year, make sure you have ExpressVPN to help you defeat censorship, stay private on public Wi-Fi in cafes and hotels, and access all your favorite chat apps, social-media sites, and more.
So let us know in the comments: Where would you go on a remote-work visa?
Read more: Countries with SIM-card registration laws
I would most likely go to Czech Republic or Germany on a work visa, as these would be the best places to find meaningful freelance work in my field of expertise.