Digital nomad visas are on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina’s recent introduction of a new digital nomad visa is the latest move seen among Latin American and Caribbean countries in an attempt to attract remote workers, as governments in the region more and more attuned to the economic advantages offered by this traveling population stimulated by the pandemic.

Remote workers in Argentina spend around $3,000 a month, according to Florencia Carignano, the country’s national migration director. This is about double what tourists spend, and stays are generally longer.

A trend of online workers moving around the world was already growing before the pandemic, with the term “digital nomads” gaining increasing interest online over the past eight years or so. However, the major shift to remote working caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly increased this interest, spurred by the return of international travel to relative normality.

“The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already happening” – Florencia Carignano

With a growing number of companies adopting fully remote working hours – as highlighted by Airbnb’s recent announcement that staff can be based anywhere without affecting their salaries – the number of people able to contemplate an itinerant lifestyle continues to increase. In most cases, the only ingredient these workers need from a destination is a decent internet connection.

The prospect of capitalizing on this trend and attracting medium to long-stay visitors who inject significant amounts of hard currency into the economy is particularly attractive for the many countries that have experienced economic turbulence as a result of the pandemic. . Carignano made that clear when announcing Argentina’s new visa this month.

“We want to attract people who, after the pandemic, have changed their mindset and now prioritize their freedom, want to visit new places and enjoy life in a different way,” she said. “The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already happening.”

Any country that manages to establish a strong rotation of digital nomads – who usually stay for at least a few months – will not only generate welcome foreign currency, but also considerable opportunities for local workers.

Given the potential benefits of digital nomads, it’s no wonder Argentina is just one of many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean seeking to facilitate their arrival, along with a few other similar programs from the region highlighted below.

Antigua and Barbuda

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda is offering digital nomad residency for up to two years to anyone with an annual salary of at least US$50,000 earned outside the country. This is a relatively high figure compared to minimum wage requirements for remote worker visas in Latin America, reflecting the higher cost of living in the Caribbean nation.

To access the program, which costs US$1,500, applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a clean criminal record and be able to show proof of full medical coverage.

Another Caribbean country offering a comparable program with similar costs and conditions – although for an initially shorter period – is Barbados, with its 12-month (renewable) “Welcome Stamp”.

Brazil

In January, Brazil announced its own digital nomad visa. Anyone who can prove that they are employed from abroad and able to perform their work entirely online can apply.

According to the published resolution, to obtain one of Brazil’s digital nomad visas, participants must earn at least US$1,500 per month and hold a minimum of US$18,000 in their bank account.

A digital nomad visa in Brazil is initially granted for a period of one year, but can later be extended for another year.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica passed its digital nomad law in August 2021, establishing a new migratory classification known as “remote service provider”, which also covers a partner and children under 25.

Anyone granted this visa receives permission to stay in the country for an initial period of one year, which can be extended for an additional year as long as the person has spent at least 180 days of the initial year in the country.

In particular, the holders (but not their successors in title) are exempt from all taxes, including taxes on the importation of equipment necessary for the exercise of their remote work. This also applies to vehicles, and they will be able to drive it using a license issued in their home country as long as the visa is valid.

Any country that succeeds in establishing a strong rotation of digital nomads will not only generate welcome foreign currency, but also considerable opportunities for local workers.

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Digital Nomad Visa was launched in January 2022, offering remote workers the right to stay and work in the country for up to two years.

To obtain the visa, participants must be able to prove that they have a contract in place to work with a foreign company, allowing them to perform their duties online, and they must be earning at least 1,275 USD per month.

Nature lovers beware. Holders of an Ecuadorian digital nomad visa are allowed to settle anywhere in the country except the Galapagos Islands.

Panama

Panama’s digital nomad visa was introduced by executive decree in May 2021, making it one of the first countries in the region to introduce a dedicated visa for remote workers.

As in other countries, to be eligible for the visa, applicants must be able to show that they have a contract in place to work for a company based outside of Panama or are otherwise able to support themselves. needs through online activities.

The Panama digital nomad visa has one of the highest minimum wage requirements among Latin American countries. Holders must earn at least $36,000 per year, which equates to about $3,000 per month.

Options elsewhere for digital nomads

Colombia is currently in the process of developing a digital nomad visa, which should be launched in the coming months.

Colombia is already home to a large number of digital nomads, who typically enter the country on 90-day renewable tourist visas. Many can also be found in Mexico, taking advantage of the country’s 180-day tourist visas.

With governments in the region becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities offered by digital nomads, and with many countries now targeting them with dedicated visas, it stands to reason that more will follow in the near future.

*Magda Ortiz contributed to this article.

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