Your Complete Guide To Digital Nomad Visas

passport-visas
passport-visas

^Photo by Unsplash by Taryn Elliott

What Is A Digital Nomad Visa?

A digital nomad visa is a travel visa that allows remote workers to stay and work in a country longer than they would normally be able to if they were on a standard tourist visa.
passport-2260989_640
 ^Image by Karl Allen Lugmayer from Pixabay
Countries usually don’t name this visa, “digital nomad visa”. They name it something like, “Long-Term Resident” visa (Thailand) or, “Temporary-Stay Visa” (Portugal). These visas usually target remote workers and other desirable individuals (retirees), and make it significantly easier to stay in these countries long-term.

9 Benefits Of A Digital Nomad Visa

  1. Extended Stay: Unlike standard tourist visas with limited durations (30, 60, 90 days), digital nomad visas often permit stays ranging from several months to a year. So you’re able to stay in a single place and sink your teeth into some serious routine.
  2. Multiple Entries: With a tourist visa, your visa expires as soon as you exit the country. This is how the classic “visa run to Laos” scenario was born, where you leave the country once your tourist visa expires so you can “re-enter” on a new tourist visa and get a fresh new 30/60 days in the country. It’s fun, but exhausting and can be really challenging for someone with a steady work schedule. Most digital nomad visas are "multiple entry", which means 
  3. Earning Without Local Employment: Unlike work visas that usually require local job engagement, digital nomad visas allow individuals to work for clients or companies outside the host country.
  4. Life Integration: Work in the morning and scuba in the afternoon? This is simply not possible in nearly any part of the US. Digital nomad visas help remote workers explore more passions while advancing their career.
  5. Compliance Peace Of Mind: Having a dedicated visa ensures adherence to local work regulations.
  6. Access To Communities: Some visa programs provide access to vibrant tech or startup communities which fosters networking opportunities and potential collaborations.
  7. Cultural Exchange: Engaging with diverse communities during longer stays facilitates cultural understanding and enriching experiences. 
  8. Friends: Longer stays means making more friends. It’s just easier to make friends if you’re staying for nine months, as opposed to nine days.
  9. Mental Health: Longer stays means a more stable environment. Everyone is different, and it really depends what you’re looking for, but a more stable external environment almost always translates to better mental health.

remote-worker-by-pool

Who Are Digital Nomad Visas For?

Digital nomad visas are best suited for full-time or part-time professionals, freelancers or entrepreneurs that are looking to stay in a particular place for longer than 1 month and have the following;
  1. A fully remote job
  2. Legal permission (from employer or otherwise) to work outside their home country.
  3. The ability to juggle timezones and clients in those timezones

Countries With Digital Nomad Visas

thailand

^Photo by Erik Karits

As the concept of remote work gains momentum, several countries have embraced digital nomads, offering visas either specifically tailored to attracting them, or visas that remote workers can use to live and work in these countries. 

Below are some notable destinations with digital nomad visas, but this is by no means a complete list:

Estonia:

  • e-Residency Program: An innovative program enabling digital nomads to establish residency in Estonia and start a business there - all without ever stepping foot in Estonia.
  • Digital Nomad Visa: Allows remote workers to stay in Estonia up to 1 year.

Thailand:

Portugal:
  • Portugal's Temporary Stay Visa grants remote workers the right to live and work remotely in Portugal for up to 1 year.
Barbados:
  • The 12-Month Welcome Stamp allows remote workers to experience Caribbean life while working remotely for up to a year.
UAE
Mexico
  • Mexico's Temporary Resident visa is Mexico's version of a digital nomad visa - it's incredibly flexible with unlimited re-entires and makes it easier to buy property and vehicles.
Argentina
Uruguay
Greece
  • Greece's digital nomad visa allows workers to live and work in Greece for up to one year. And it also allows workers to bring family members with them on this visa!
Malta
  • Malta's Nomad Residence Permit is a digital nomad visa allows workers to live and work there one year, and they can renew this visa annually if they continue to meet requirements.

Digital Nomad Visa Requirements

Most digital nomad visas you apply for are going to require a couple key things like;
  • Proof of Income: Demonstrating a stable income source from remote work or freelancing that meets or exceeds the host country's minimum income threshold. This minimum threshold changes based on the country, and is usually over ~$3,000/month. 
  • Health Insurance: Providing evidence of comprehensive health insurance coverage valid for the duration of the stay. Safetywing is a good option for this. Clean Criminal Record: Submitting a police clearance certificate or equivalent document to attest that you haven’t been naughty with the law.
  • Confirmation of Remote Employment: Presenting a contract or proof of employment with an employer outside the host country, or evidence of operating an online business.

Real-Life Example: Sarah, The Digital Nomad

To illustrate how great digital nomad visas can be, I’ll use the real life example of a friend. Sarah works remotely and has built a list of clients independently as a consultant. Before she started visiting countries on digital nomad visas, Sarah started her remote work journey by visiting countries on tourist visas.

This was ok, but the constant moving and the legal gray area of the legality of working remotely in different countries took its toll. Sarah was constantly stressed and really, just not having a great time or enjoying life on the road.

Sarah's life before a digital nomad visa:
  • Short-Term Stays: Sarah had to pack up her stuff and buy plane tickets out of the country every 30/60 days.
  • Legal Uncertainty: Working remotely while operating on a tourist visa is a bit of a gray area. This uncertainty added yet another unknown to Sarah’s life.
  • Lack of Routine: Moving every 30/60 days makes it very difficult to establish routine to get work done and to find solid social groups.
With a digital nomad visa Sarah has:
  • Extended Freedom: Acquiring a digital nomad visa in Barbados granted Sarah a year-long stay, allowing her to settle into the country.
  • Peace of Mind: The Barbados digital nomad visa is specifically targeted to digital nomads, so Sarah is focused more on her work without the looming concerns of visa limitations.
  • Better Mental Health: Spending a full year in Barbados without needing to leave every 30 days means Sarah settled into a routine and created a stronger social circle.

So - is a digital nomad visa for you? Maybe. If you’re tired of bouncing around on tourist visas and/or continually making border runs, it may be the move. It’s a solid way to find your place, community and routine.

And if you're looking for gear to help you work better remotely, check out the laptop case built for hybrid and remote work by Made For Sapiens.

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