Working from Home Overseas: Which Countries Will Let You In?
For some, the coronavirus pandemic has moulded working life into something far more flexible than we were used to pre-COVID – with a huge portion of the world now embracing remote working.
Back in April 2020, nearly half (46.6%) of all employed Brits were working at home – and almost a year on, this has only slightly decreased to 42%. Across the pond, working from home is even more popular, with 71% of employed people in America still working from home as of December 2020.
The circumstances certainly aren’t ideal, but many are relishing not having to deal with the daily commute. A number of large companies – such as Google and Twitter – are even looking to carry on with this remote working trend during post-pandemic life.
In response to this new way of life, a handful of countries around the globe have introduced new remote working visas, which allow people to carry out their office-based jobs from overseas. The end goal? To boost local economies and provide people with an entirely new, enriching experience.
So, if you fancy cracking on with your work surrounded by cheerful beach-goers, check out the list of countries that will let you in below.
Can you picture yourself doing the usual 9-5 on a scorching, tropical beach?
Visa/programme: One Happy Workation
Like the idea of organising conference calls from a Caribbean island? With Aruba's “One Happy Workation” programme, anyone with a US passport can do so for up to 90 days.
The programme certainly beats staying within your four walls – it even suggests that “the island is your office; you can work anywhere.” Remote workers will also be offered package deals and discounted rates at local hotels, chain resorts, and rental homes.
As an added bonus, travellers won’t have to pay any income taxes, since they won’t be registered as an Aruba resident and income will be supplied by a company from outside the country.
There are a few rules, though. Workers need to stay for a minimum of a week, and should either be employed by a non-local company or self-employed.
Unfortunately, this visa is only available for US passport holders.
Visa/programme: Barbados Welcome Stamp
The beautiful country of Barbados is offering remote workers the chance to swap their apartments for white sandy beaches for a full year.
The Barbados Government announced the scheme on 30 June 2020, and it has since proved popular with Brits, Americans, and Canadians.
The offer is available to anyone – no matter where you’re from – who can meet the visa requirements. You can even bring your family along! To qualify, you must earn at least £39,760 ($50,000) per year, and have a health insurance plan in place.
This exotic experience does come at a price, though: £1,590 ($2,000) per person, or £2,385 ($3,000) for a ‘family bundle’.
Visa/programme: One Year Residency Certificate
In July 2020, Bermuda announced that it would be launching a new residency certificate policy, allowing visitors to work remotely from the island. It's also one of the few programmes that is also aimed at students.
The policy allows remote workers and students to live on the Caribbean island for up to a year, so long as they pass the following requirements:
- Must be older than 18
- Must have health insurance
- Must supply proof of employment and/or enrollment in an educational program
- Must show sufficient means and/or a continuous source of income
Unlike many other remote working visas, Bermuda’s certificate is very affordable – costing long-term visitors only £189 ($263).
For anyone not wanting to commit to such a lengthy stay, Bermuda has also extended its tourist visa from 90 to 180 days, in an effort to further boost its economy.
Work getting a bit stressful? It's nothing a quick dip in Bermuda's crystal clear ocean can't fix
4. Cayman Islands
Visa/programme: The Global Citizen Concierge Program
The Cayman Islands lifestyle would make working life utterly dreamy. Tough day in the ‘office’? Just head on down to one of the many award-winning restaurants to take your mind off it, or gaze at the sunset from a white sandy beach.
For some lucky workers, this dream can become a reality, thanks to the two-year-long Global Citizen Concierge Programme.
Much longer than the other visas we mentioned so far, right? Well, unfortunately, there’s a catch. According to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism's website, to qualify for the visa, workers must prove that they're employed outside of the Cayman Islands, and that they make at least £71,931 ($100,000) a year.
And the more people you bring along, the more you’ll be expected to earn. Couples must bring in a combined minimum of £107,897 ($150,000), and families with one or more children must make at least £129,476 ($180,000) a year.
On top of this, applicants also need a notarized bank reference, confirmation of current health insurance coverage, as well as proof of a clean criminal record.
Visa/programme: Remote Working Visa
If the novelty of working from home has well and truly worn off, perhaps Dubai’s one-year remote working visa can help you out. With thousands of influencers flocking to the city since the visa’s launch, inviting remote workers to do their 9-5 from one of the world’s most plush locations is proving very popular indeed.
Anyone who meets the requirements will be able to open a local bank account, get a local phone number and internet access, and enrol their children in one of the schools in the area. Plus, working here means you won’t have to pay any income tax.
This is, however, another scheme aimed at wealthier people. To apply, workers must prove that they earn a minimum of £3,595 ($5,000) a month by submitting proof of employment, last month's payslip, and three months of bank statements.
In total, the cost of the application itself tallies up to £206 ($287). Applicants are also required to have medical insurance, as well as a passport that is valid for at least another six months.
Visa/programme: Remotely From Georgia Programme
In 2020, the country of Georgia announced the launch of its Remotely From Georgia Programme. This initiative is aiming to bring in more remote workers and support the country's tourism industry, which has been decimated by the pandemic.
The scheme lasts for up to six months, which may be appealing to any digital nomads wanting to explore the country.
To apply, visitors must prove that they earn a minimum of $2,000 a month (so that they can pay taxes while in Georgia), proof of travel insurance, and a certificate of employment.
To avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases, visitors must have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccination, will be expected to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and will need to take a COVID-19 test after this period.
Visa/programme: Long-Term Visa for Remote Workers
Previously, only residents of the European Schengen area were able to take part in Iceland’s programme. However, in a bid to prop up the country’s economy, Iceland has extended it to anyone who doesn't need a visa to travel there.
The long-term visa will allow visitors to admire dramatic glaciers, gaze at the northern lights, and explore snow-laden landscapes for up to 180 days.
To apply, you must work for a company outside Iceland or be self-employed, have appropriate health insurance, and make at least £5,604 per month – or £7,285 if you want to bring a spouse, a partner, or any children under 18 years old.
Although this plan sounds tempting, travellers might want to hold off until 1 May 2021 – Iceland’s proposed date for vaccinated people to bypass current entry restrictions and quarantine measures.
You can keep the Monday blues at bay after a weekend of exploring Kirkjufell in Iceland
Visa/programme: The Temporary Resident Visa
Sunning yourself in southern sun and soaking in Mexican culture almost seems a little too idyllic for a Monday lunchtime, doesn’t it?
Well, Mexico’s Temporary Resident Visa is enticing people around the globe to do just that for at least one year. Once your year is up, you can even renew it for a further three years, provided that certain requirements are still met.
In order to qualify for the visa, applicants will need to bring in an income of more than £1,164 ($1,620) per month, or have a bank account balance of over £19,411 ($27,000).
Although this programme is set to boost Mexico’s economy, unfortunately, much of the country is still riddled with COVID-19. To stay on the safe side, we don't recommend going to Mexico if you're at all clinically vulnerable, and we urge you to follow social distancing guidelines when you arrive.
Visa/programme: Digital Nomads Madeira
We’ve saved one of the most interesting until last. If you’re a digital nomad looking to enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year, delicious food and wine, and unmatched hiking trails, Portugal has a few options up its sleeve.
There are different options available, depending on how long a visitor plans to stay. For all visas, applicants have to register as a freelancer in the country, and they must demonstrate that their skills are needed (it helps if they have local Portuguese clients).
But it’s Portugal’s Digital Nomads Madeira scheme that makes the country stand out from the crowd. The initiative – developed by the Regional Government of Madeira – aims to host up to 100 remote workers at a time in the town of Ponta do Sol, home to just 8,200 people.
The programme welcomes professionals for periods of between one and six months – allowing them to live like locals in communities around the island. What’s more, the lucky 100 will be provided with a free working space, access to a Slack community, and free internet from 8am to 10pm – not to mention access to a variety of fun activities.
Phase one of the project started on 1 February, and will last until 30 June. However, if all goes well, it’s hoped that other initiatives will be implemented in Madeira and other rural areas of Portugal.
There are plenty of options out there for anyone looking to shake things up a bit when it comes to working from home. And, as vaccination rollouts continue to make their way through the population, perhaps this is a new way of working we could start to see more of. It’s time to swap that desk chair for a deck chair!