Why Are Digital Nomad Visas On The Rise?

28 February 2023

With economies in the EU showing promising signs of resilience, job opportunities will open up for global contractors, especially digital nomads and remote workers.

There is real momentum behind digital nomad visas, as countries and governments across the EU seek to bring in much-needed skills and encourage a start-up culture to bolster their standing in key fields such as tech. They also know that the spending power of these remote workers will serve as an economic stimulus to the local economy.

Despite the economic landscape and challenges, the demand for specialist skills is only set to continue given the dearth of talent across so many industries. Many people re-assessed their careers during the pandemic, and continue to look for the added flexibility and work-life balance that comes from taking up opportunities in countries that offer improved quality of life, lower cost of living plus the mix of stunning locations and good weather.

There are now over 50 countries offering digital nomad visas. Examples outside Europe include Thailand, Brazil and Mexico. Barbados first introduced its in 2020 – called the ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’, it is valid for 12 months (but can be renewed after the first year) although certain requirements need to be met, such as being able to demonstrate annual earnings in excess of $50,000.

Digital nomad visas are also proving popular in the EU and are being offered by countries such as Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Luxembourg meanwhile has changed its requirements for holders of the ‘Blue Card’, the work and residence permit that allows highly skilled non-EU citizens to work in the bloc. This can then lead to residence and EU citizenship. There has been a raise in the salary threshold for normal occupations to €84,780 and €67,824 for shortage occupations. All non-EU workers need to have temporary authorisation and a residence permit to stay in Luxembourg. The application can be requested by the employer on behalf of the worker.

Another country that has recently introduced a digital nomad visa is Spain targeting non-EU nationals, allowing them to live and work in the country for up to five years. As part of the government’s ‘Startup Act’ of 2021, the visa was approved in November 2022 to facilitate entrepreneurship in the tech sector. Non-EU nationals can work remotely for companies based outside Spain and are allowed to earn up to 20% of their income from Spanish firms.

The visa is available to both contractors and freelancers who are self-employed as well as remote workers employed by a single company. They must have been working for their clients and companies (which must have been trading for over a year) for at least three months. In the case of the latter, a contract of employment must be provided and proof that their job can be done remotely.

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