Every year, more and more countries offer immigration programs designed for financially independent individuals. Recently, they have begun to include the so-called “digital nomads,” who are employees of foreign companies and are not tied to a specific workplace. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in various restrictions and the transfer of some staff to remote work, moving to another country can be a solution to many problems.
Of the more than thirty destinations that have opened their borders to digital nomads, almost a third are island states in the Caribbean. Many of them have parallel programs “Citizenship in exchange for investment”, but for many the minimum investment threshold (from one hundred thousand US dollars) is simply not available.
A completely different matter is the requirements for those wishing to obtain a temporary residence permit on the islands with permission to work remotely. The validity period of such a residence permit varies from six months to two years with the possibility of further extension. Basic conditions for everyone without exception: no criminal record, a long-term employment contract with a foreign employer and sufficient financial resources for permanent residence – about $50-70 thousand per year. Local health insurance is not required everywhere, but for processing the application they charge a fee of 800-2000 US dollars for the main applicant and another 300-500 euros for each family member.
As of September 2021, such programs were in place in the Bahamas, Bermuda and Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat and Curacao. In the foreseeable future, they will have to be joined by the British Virgin Islands, whose authorities announced the launch of their own program in the fall of 2020, but have not begun to implement it since then.
When going to the Caribbean islands, you should keep in mind that in addition to the obvious advantages (favorable climate, affordable prices for basic goods and services, absence of serious political and economic upheavals), living there also has equally pronounced disadvantages. First of all, these are poor transport links (long flights with 2-3 transfers and waits at airports), a low level of education and medical care, as well as routine and an almost complete lack of cultural leisure.
European programs for “digital nomads”, regardless of whether the country is part of the EU or not, have their main requirements for the financial viability of applicants. The only difference is the amount of the minimum monthly income, which starts from 2000 USD per month for Georgia and reaches €6032 per applicant in the case of Iceland.
In almost all European countries where such programs already operate, the initial residence permit is issued for a period of one year with the possibility of subsequent extension. The exceptions are Iceland (maximum 6 months) and Croatia (re-application can only be submitted six months after the expiration of the previous visa). In addition to documentary evidence of the minimum monthly income, everywhere you will need to provide a certificate of no criminal record and medical insurance, and in Malta you will also need to undergo a security check.
In addition to the states mentioned above, Serbia and Estonia are already open to “digital nomads,” while those wishing to move to Spain, Greece or Romania will have to wait a little. The programs here are at the draft stage, which may undergo certain changes. This list may be added to by North Macedonia, whose government announced the start of work on a similar law in January 2021, but since then no concrete information has appeared.
The arrival of “digital nomads” or “business angels” who do not seek jobs is also welcomed by some Asian countries, although one should be prepared for the fact that the financial qualifications in them will be quite high. Thus, in the UAE, monthly income (salary or business profit) must be at least 5,000 USD, and only then an employee of a foreign company working remotely will be able to bring his spouse and minor children with him.
While a residence permit in Dubai is issued for a period of only one year with the possibility of extension, the Thai authorities immediately introduced a ten-year visa, the draft of which was approved back in 2018. It was decided that in addition to wealthy investors and businessmen, preference in issuing such visas will be given to “digital nomads” working for large foreign companies with an annual income of at least 40 thousand US dollars. If one of them decides to buy real estate in Thailand or a plot of land, the property will become their property.
Residence permits for a period of 5 and 10 years are going to be issued by Oman, where permanently residing foreigners make up over 40% of the total population. However, the conditions of the local investment program are unknown, as well as in Indonesia, where the island of Bali, favored by tourists, will be “allocated” for “digital nomads”.
There is no certainty regarding the visa issue regarding this category of foreigners on the island of Sri Lanka. So far, citizens of other countries working remotely can only stay here for three months at a time, and it is expected that this period will be increased to nine months or one year.
Of the many countries in Latin America, only Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico provide long-term residence permits for digital nomads, and in the latter case, we are not talking specifically about remote workers. The main requirement for those wishing to become holders of a six-month visa with the possibility of extension to four years is a confirmed monthly income of at least 2,150 USD or the presence of $36 thousand USD in a bank account.
Exactly the same amount will be required in Panama (visa is issued for 9 months plus a possible extension for the same period) and Costa Rica (1+1 year). After the expiration of repeated visas, further stay in the territory of these countries in the absence of other grounds is not provided.
At the beginning of 2021, the government of Belize announced the launch of a program for “digital nomads,” which thus wanted to partially compensate for the loss of foreign tourists (primarily from the United States). However, no concrete actions were taken, and everything remained at the level of a “statement of intent.”
Among all African countries, two island states are the most advanced in implementing immigration programs for “digital nomads”: Mauritius and Cape Verde. The first program allows you to live in Mauritius for one year, provided you receive a stable monthly income that exceeds US$1,500 for the main applicant and US$500 for each dependent family member (children must be under 24 years of age). For the Cape Verde program, the financial qualification is set at 1,500 euros for a single person and 2,700 euros for a family of three, and the maximum length of stay is limited to six months (extension possible for a further six).
In the case of the Seychelles, this period can range from one month to a year, but the exact amount of income, unlike the local Citizenship by Investment program, is not indicated. Foreigners wishing to live in this archipelago must also present a contract with an overseas employer or proof of business ownership and health insurance.
Finally, foreigners working remotely can move to Zanzibar, which has become extremely popular during the Covid-19 pandemic as an island free of mandatory mask wearing and other restrictions. However, the first requirement for moving is to purchase property in this region of Tanzania, although there is no minimum cost threshold. The residence permit in Zanzibar will be valid until the owner of the property decides to sell it, and the residence must be renewed every two years.