The pandemic has brought the tourism industry to a halt worldwide. Some countries are trying to remedy this by attracting digital nomads from all corners of the globe. From special visas to income tax exemptions, here is an overview of initiatives aimed at attracting (the wealthiest) international workers as the home office continues to grow. There could be a billion teleworkers in the world by 2035.
The country was the first European state to launch a visa specifically for foreign teleworkers. "Digital nomads and remote workers have long faced ambiguity when working while travelling, often circumventing the law, by practising while visiting a country on a tourist visa" according to the Estonian government website. Thus, as of 1 August 2020, the country offers self-employed people the possibility to live in Estonia for one year and work there legally. To be eligible for this new visa, several criteria must be met, including earning more than 3,500 euros per month and working for a non-Estonian organisation.
Note that visas for digital nomads (whether entrepreneurs, freelancers or employees of a foreign company teleworking) have also been introduced in the Czech Republic, Norway, Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Costa Rica, Mexico, Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Dubai and Barbados.
Since the beginning of the year, the Croatians have been offering non-European teleworkers and their families a special digital nomad visa for up toone year. It is available to workers earning more than 2,200 euros per month and provides for income tax exemption. Teleworkers are not allowed to work for a local company. The aim is to boost tourism, particularly outside the high summer season.
The "Remotely from Georgia" programme allows foreign teleworkers (from 95 countries) to stay for a minimum of six months. The scheme is open to people earning a salary of at least 1,670 euros per month. Halfway between Europe and Asia, this state of 3.7 million inhabitants where the cost of living is very low may represent an opportunity for foreign teleworkers in search of purchasing power.
Bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific, Costa Rica is the Eldorado for teleworkers. The country has enjoyed political stability and economic growth for several years. The tropical climate offers mild weather from December to April. The digital nomad visa is available to foreigners earning more than USD 3,000 per month and can last up to two years. The country has taken various measures to attract foreign teleworkers, who are exempt from paying income tax. The driving licence issued in the country of origin is also valid in Costa Rica. This is ideal for travelling around the country known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. With 20% of the population living below the poverty line, the influx of digital nomads into this Central American country has also been criticised by some observers as a new form of colonialism.
NB: Digital nomad visas issued in Europe have advantages for non-EU citizens. Apart from the health crisis, freedom of movement and residence is one of the principles of the 27 member countries of the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway, which belong to the Schengen area.