Travel and immigration came to a halt in 2020 as countries tried to curb the COVID-19 pandemic with strict restrictions on mobility. From mid-March 2020 to the end of February of this year, more than 100,000 traffic restrictions were Posted worldwide. Global tourism has hit a historic bottom in 2020, with a billion fewer international arrivals than in 2019. The global travel and tourism sector lost nearly $ 4.5 trillion.
Digital nomadic visas allow holders to live in a country while working a job based abroad. Most countries require applicants must meet a certain monthly income threshold, have proof of health insurance and a negative test for COVID-19. Requirements are otherwise rare and most programs allow visa holders to stay in the country for up to a year.
In places that have not adopted digital visa programs for nomads, workers are limit tourist visas which prevent stays of more than a few months. Live in a long-term location while often retaining a job overseas requires corporate sponsorship and complicated bureaucratic processing.
While several pre-existing visa programs are dedicated to the self-employed and those who can live on passive income, nomadic digital visas apply to a much larger population. Paradoxically, most of them were launched during the pandemic, even as governments imposed the most severe restrictions on international movements in recent history. Even so, many officials realize that foreign visitors are good for economic recovery.
Estonia started development his digital nomad visa program in 2018, and he started take applications last august. About twenty other countries and territories have set up similar systems. Thailand and Indonesia, already destinations of choice for non-book digital nomads, are in a slow running become the first Asian country to roll out a remote worker program.
The demand is clearly there. When Barbados launched its one-year Welcome Stamp visa last June, it received over 1,000 applications in its first week. Georgia received 2,000 applications for its one-year remote work program from August to January.
Croatia adopted its nomadic digital program thanks to the Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who presented the idea to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in a open letter on Linkedin. De Jong, who has lived in Croatia for over a decade, was invited to meet with Plenković and the Interior Ministry shortly after publishing his appeal.
De Jong tells Reason that the politicians “immediately showed fully what an opportunity this is for Croatia”. He built much of his pitch around the wealth that digital nomads bring to a country: “The average monthly salary in Croatia is 905 euros. So basically every digital nomad who comes to Croatia is considered a citizen. temporary high-spending Croatia. ”With these people comes“ a nice influx of new income ”.
As welcome as this income is, de Jong thinks it is perhaps “even more important” that “digital nomads bring their experience and mindset with them.” Over the past 10 to 15 years, half a million young people have left the country. “By welcoming digital nomads,” de Jong says, “we want to reverse the brain drain”. In this way, digital nomadic visas can offer both short-term relief from the strains of the pandemic era and long-term benefits for countries struggling to attract talent.
The digital nomadic visa market is saturated enough for countries to advertise unique benefits to attract workers interested in offshoring. The Croatian visa program has a lower income threshold than Barbados and Estonia, gives digital nomads the option to purchase private health insurance, and does not collect income tax during the visa period of 12 months. Barbados, Cape Verde and Georgia also exempt digital nomads of income tax. Dominica offers duty-free products and service provider discounts. Dubai provides the COVID-19 vaccine to visa holders free of charge.
With many restrictions on global movement still in place, travelers may not be as interested in shorter trips as usual. But longer-term nomadism, de Jong predicts, “will recover faster and sooner.”
The goal posts of the reopening of the borders have been pushed back again and again, and it is easy to fear that these restrictions on movement survive the pandemic. But the growing popularity of digital nomadic visas bodes well for the long-term health of international mobility. Travelers bring talent and resources with them, and officials who embrace this idea understand the goodness of it.