Dubai: As companies continue offering hybrid and remote work policies that gained peak popularity during the worst years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have improved on or introduced new visa options for ‘digital nomads’.
A digital nomad is someone who takes advantage of the fact that they can work from anywhere as long as they have a good quality internet connection. For some, that may look like two-three weeks away from their base location, while for others it might be a couple of months or even a year.
The most important factor would be the freedom to move somewhere for at least 6 months without affecting work commitments. For some, this may require a face-to-face discussion with one’s employer first. For others, such as freelancers and contract-based employees, the transition might be easier.
When choosing a location, apart from the visa itself, one would also need to weigh other pros and cons. These criteria include safety, health insurance and facilities, technology and internet connections, minimum income requirements, and accommodation among others.
Here, we look at some beneficial visa options to check out of working from anywhere is a possibility for you.
Dubai in the UAE is one of the cities that have a perfect ecosystem for professionals from outside the UAE to come to, live and work in. You could choose Dubai if you are working for an employer or if you are self-employed.
Known as the virtual working programme, this Dubai remote work visa has a validity of one year and is contingent on a minimum monthly income of $3,500 (Dh12,845), submission of documents proving employment or an operating business, and either health insurance or travel insurance with comprehensive health coverage.
The cost of the visa is nearly Dh2,300 ($611) including the application, medical fitness requirements, visa and Emirates ID.
Launched during the pandemic, Georgia’s visa for digital nomads was introduced under the campaign ‘Remotely From Georgia’. But, this visa scheme has been around for some time, under which citizens of 95 countries can freely live, work or study in Georgia for up to one year.
The visa is free and the monthly income requirement ($2000 or approx. Dh7,340) added during the pandemic period doesn’t apply any longer. Check with the local Georgia consulate or embassy for more details.
This Mediterranean nation also introduced a special visa for digital nomads during the pandemic with a cap on the number of visas granted each year. In 2022, the cap was increased from 100 to 500. Available to non-EU/EEA citizens working for an employer registered outside Cyprus, the application cost of the visa is around €70 (around Dh284).
You need to prove a minimum monthly income of €3,500 (around Dh14,188), health and accident insurance, proof of accommodation and other documentation for the application.
According to several websites, Hungary’s digital nomad scheme – called the White Card – is one of the easier European visas for remote workers to get.
And, the best part? This long-term residence permit will allow you to travel freely through the Schengen Zone.
The White Card doesn’t allow co-dependants to join the applicant and requires a minimum monthly income of $2,000 (Dh7,340). On application, an entry visa is issued and the residence permit can be availed upon travelling to Hungary using the entry visa. The application fee is around Dh450 or €110.
Greece has Digital Nomad Visa for non-EU, EEA and Switzerland nationals (they can already live and work there freely) that can be extended for two years as a renewable residence permit after one year.
You’ll need to prove a monthly income of €3,500 (around Dh14,188) with clients/employers outside Greece. You can also bring along your dependants but the monthly income requirement will increase with each co-applicant – by 20 per cent for your spouse, and 15 per cent for each child.
And as with most of these visas – as long as you’re on this visa, you will not be allowed to work for Greek companies.
Chase the northern lights as a digital nomad in Iceland, which has a 6-month visa option for remote workers. The minimum income requirement is on the higher side here at €7,075 (nearly Dh29,000).
This visa also allows you to travel freely through the Schengen Zone, living in any one country for no more than 90 days out of any 180-day-period. The visa is a multiple-entry visa but the duration of 6 months is fixed, and will begin on the date of entry.
These are just a few options for you to consider depending on what works best for you. There are many other countries with special visas that are granted based on various terms and conditions.
For freelancers or entrepreneurs
Several European countries have visa options for freelancers who can prove that they have profitable contracts in place to sustain their lifestyles. Finland, for example, has a visa for entrepreneurs as long as they can prove financial means and fulfil other documentation criteria.
If you have a successful freelancing business and wish to work from Germany, you can apply for a freelancer visa (part of the visa for self-employed individuals) there. The visa is granted only after the submission of proof of funds and professional licences/qualifications. You’ll also need to prove that the business is economically beneficial to Germany i.e. have at least a couple of German clients.
So, depending on whether you work remotely for one employer or work as a freelancer, you can select your country of choice to work out of.
[The information in this story is based on information provided by relevant government websites and the terms are subject to change, especially since some of these visas were launched during the peak pandemic years. Always get the information confirmed through authorised government websites, consulates and/or embassies.]