Digital Nomad Visa - Explained by Remote Year’s Experts
Thinking about joining the digital nomad life? Take a look at our complete guide on digital nomad visas and learn everything you need to know to apply!
Have you ever dreamed of living the digital nomadic lifestyle?
After the global pandemic forced the world into lockdowns and made working from home more mainstream, becoming a digital nomad has become a possibility for more people than ever before.
It isn’t hard to understand the appeal of following your wanderlust while making a living by taking your work with you. Imagine putting in your work for the day and then exploring exciting destinations after clocking out. Plus, you also get to experience new cultures and ways of living, more fully than a tourist who’s visiting for just a few days.
The trend has become so widespread that many countries have created a visa that’s specifically designed for this special group of world travelers — the digital nomad visa.
What exactly is a digital nomad visa and how do you get one? If you’re looking to travel the world without sacrificing your monthly paycheck while working remotely, it’s important to learn about these visas and which countries offer them.
So, strap yourselves in as we tell you everything you need to know about these special visas. Who knows? This may just be the first step of a life-changing adventure.
What Is a Digital Nomad Visa?
A digital nomad visais an official document that allows you to stay in one country for up to six months at a time. In most cases, you'll need one if you want to work remotely from another country. Sometimes,it's even necessary for short-term travel.
There are many types of visas depending on where in the world you're traveling from and where you're going.
Digital Nomads vs. Remote Workers
Digital nomads and remote workers work remotely, but there are some important differences between them. These differences determine which visa you should apply for if you want to live and work abroad as a freelancer or contractor.
The nomadic lifestyle is for full-time travelers who prefer to stay in one place for a few months or a few years before moving on to the next location. Those who have learned how to become digital nomads enjoy local experiences or weekend adventures available to them while living in a foreign country and working remotely.
In contrast, people can work remotely most of the week, but must commute to the office one day a week for meetings. Remote employees typically work from their homes or nearby cafes, but can also work from their company's office if necessary.
Remote Year: Making the Nomadic Lifestyle More Accessible
Here at Remote Year we made it easier for travelers to work remotely and explore new places and popular destinations like Cape Town and Bali. If you're looking to test out remote working for a month, a good place to start is with our month-long trips. Spending a month in Chiang Mai, before meeting us in Mexico City, where you can work remotely while enjoying its beautiful beaches.
Remote Year makes it easier to see the world while working by arranging strategically located accommodations, reliable WIFI, transportation, and local experiences that you can join.
However, if you’d like to take your time and more fully immerse yourself in a region, you can choose one of the life-changing journey programs. It lets you join fellow global explorers and make unforgettable memories alongside them while we bring you to new cities for 4 to 12 months! You can join a four-month exploration in Latin America, Asia, Europe, or Africa or spend 12 months touring all four regions.
By going on one of the programs, you get to experience different cultures and learn more about yourself while traveling with other like-minded individuals.
Digital Nomad Visa vs. Tourist Visa
Digital nomad visas are available in most countries around the world. They allow you to stay in a country for at least three months but often much longer.
Digital nomads travel the world long-term and enjoy vacations while working remotely. This means they don’t have a permanent home or office and instead work from wherever they happen to be at any given moment. Digital nomads may be in a different country every two weeks, or stay for several months before setting off again.
This lifestyle allows them to explore many cities and cultures while still earning money from their chosen jobs. The ideal countries for digital nomads have friendly visa policies that allow travelers to stay for a long time without any restrictions on their activities.
The main difference between a digital nomad visa and a tourist visa is that a digital nomad visa lets you enjoy long-term travel and gives you the legal right to work in that country for a period of time without running into local or residence tax issues. You can go backpacking across Europe or spend a year living in Hungary — both are perfectly fine!
A tourist visa is a good choice if you want to travel for a short time and are planning on returning home after your trip. You can apply for this type of visa at any embassy or consulate though it's best to do so well in advance of your departure date. The process will likely take several weeks or months, depending on where you're from and where you're traveling to. Tourist visas do not allow you to work from the country and restrict your stay to only 90 days per country.
The most common type is the Schengen tourist visa which allows its holders to travel freely within 26 countries in Europe, like France and Germany, without applying for additional paperwork at each border. Any citizen of any non-European country is eligible to apply for it. If you're a U.S. citizen, for example, you can travel as a tourist or business traveler to any country in the Schengen area without applying for an additional visa. Though it isn’t a digital nomad visa, the advantages that come with it are very useful for digital nomads.
If you overstay your tourist visa by more than 90 days, there could be serious consequences for you and your employer. If you'd like to stay longer, you'll need to apply for a different type of visa.
How Do Digital Nomad Visas Work?
Remote employees are advised to review the requirements and application procedures for digital nomad visas. It’s also a good idea to check how digital nomad visas work by contacting your local embassy.
Some countries may ask you to secure your work permit before applying for your digital nomad visa. There are cases where you can apply for both documents at once. Your local embassy or consulate will be able to provide more information about how digital nomad visas work in their jurisdiction.
Digital Nomad Visa Eligibility Criteria
There are many reasons why someone might want to become a digital nomad, but we know the process can be daunting. The good news is there are resources out there for anyone who wants to learn more about the process.
To be eligible for the nomad visa, there are a few things you should know:
You'll need a valid passport.
You need proof of steady income.
Some countries require a visa application fee.
Some destination countries may require documentation of medical insurance, proof of vaccine shots, and other documents.
Have a remote job.
Minimal steady income.
Often the employer must be outside the country or being self employed.
In addition to these, there are also several factors that affect an applicant's eligibility even if the person has sufficient documentation:
Factors that may make you a threat to the country’s security
Countries With Digital Nomad Visas
Applying for your digital nomad visa takes time, but given the benefits you get to enjoy, it’s so worth it. Now that you know the basic procedure for obtaining a visa, you’ll most likely want to know where you can go with it.
There are plenty of countries offering digital nomad visas — so many that we couldn't fit them all in one blog post. Instead of trying to give you an exhaustive list, we'll list some of our favorites!
As of July 2021, 24 regions have offered programs for temporary remote workers. Although the majority of these were countries, four were British Overseas Territories. A few countries — such as Romania — announced plans to introduce digital nomad programs in their jurisdictions soon.
Below is a table of some countries with digital nomad visas:
If you're looking for the best place to work remotely, do your research and find out which ones work best for your daily routine and lifestyle. Before you travel, ensure you have everything you need for your job and trip.
Check out Remote Year's programs to make the most out of your experience! Remote Year's group travel package includes housing and access to our co-working spaces which are in the same city where you’ll be living.
Digital Nomad Visa Application Process
The guidelines for digital nomad visas vary by country. Some let you apply online, while others require you to make a personal appearance at the consulate or embassy and submit your documents in person. In some countries, digital nomad visas are issued by the same entity that issues regular work permits.
In other cases, you may need to apply for a separate work visa or permit. Whichever applies, it’s important to note that you’ll first need to get your digital nomadic visa and permit before being allowed to live and work in another country.
The process of getting a digital nomad visa may sound more complicated than it actually is, especially if you’re able to break it down into steps. Here’s what you need to plan for:
1. Fill Out Your Application Form
This part is pretty simple. You’ll need to obtain an application form for your visa. There are countries that conveniently have online copies of the application form that you can download and fill out on your computer. Others may require physical forms that need to be manually written in.
When completing these forms, make sure that the information you supply is accurate and up-to-date. Inaccurate data may lead to your application being rejected or unnecessarily delayed.
2. Book a Meeting With the Local Embassy, Visa Office, or Consulate
The local embassy, consulate, or visa office will need to meet with you as part of your visa application evaluation. You’ll then have to locate the right office and schedule an appointment with them for a face-to-face meeting.
Most of the time, the website where you downloaded your application form will have information or links that will show you the relevant local office where you need to go.
3. Get Your Documents Ready
After filling out your application form, put all your documents together so that your visa application can be processed. In some cases (e.g., legal translation or certification bearing an apostille stamp), a document may need to be translated and/or certified by someone else before it can be used in your application.
4. Submit Your Nomad Visa Application
Good news! The most time-consuming part of the application process — getting your documents together and filling out your visa application — is over. You’re now ready to submit your form and supporting documents. Some embassies, consulates, and visa offices require you to submit these documents online and later ask you to submit hard copies during your interview with them.
Be ready to pay any related fees like visa application fees. Some countries may ask for it during the online application process, while others require you to pay these fees during your face-to-face meeting.
Moving and living in a foreign country usually meant finding a new job wherever you were moving to, but now that remote work has become more popular, the tables have turned. Living abroad is much easier and more accessible than it’s ever been.
All you need to do is look for a place to live and apply for your remote worker visa, and you can make your dreams of living in a new and exciting destination come true. Once you know the process, applying for a visa isn’t that hard.
The digital nomadic lifestyle offers so many enriching benefits, such as opportunities to see new places, experience new cultures, meet new people, and get to know yourself better while testing your limits.
Those places you’ve always thought of visiting? With a digital nomad visa, they may be more within reach than you originally expected. If you have the resources, a thirst for adventure, and remote work, why not see what life is like as a digital nomad?
It may just be one of the most fulfilling and memorable chapters in your life.
How long does it take to get a digital nomad visa?
The time it takes to process your digital remote working visa varies by case and country. For example, in Mexico, the average processing time is around one month, but it can also take over three months on rare occasions.
How long is a digital nomad visa valid for?
Most digital nomad visasare valid for one to two years. If you’re interested in staying for longer periods, some countries give you the option of extending your visa as long as certain criteria are met.
When planning your trip, make sure that your visa and passport won’t expire during your stay. As a frequent traveler, it’s important to be mindful of these dates so you won’t overstay and put your travel history at risk.
How much does a digital nomad visa cost?
Remote work visas costanywhere between $200 and $2,000. Certain Caribbean countries like Antigua and Barbados charge visa application fees. If you’re applying for your entire family, you can be charged up to $3,000.
Some countries, such as Georgia, have instituted visa programs to make it easier for nomads to stay and work. Georgia’s application fee is around $35.
Do I have to pay taxes under a digital nomad visa?
Yes, US residents who work remotely and earn over the minimum filing requirement must file a federal tax return.
The United States is one of the few countries in the world with a citizenship-based tax system. This means that regardless of where you live or how long you've been gone, as long as you're still an American citizen, your US taxes are due no matter what.
Can I get a digital nomad visa without a lawyer?
Whether you need a lawyer for a digital nomad visa will depend on the destination country. For example, applying for a digital nomad visa in Thailand requires you to obtain documents that can only be procured through an experienced immigration lawyer.
Some countries will allow you to apply for a digital nomad visa without a lawyer. However, it may be more difficult and time-consuming to do everything on your own. Having an experienced immigration lawyer can help you navigate the visa application process with fewer chances of mistakes and delays.
Before applying for a remote worker visa and acquiring the services of a lawyer, however, find out what the requirements are.
Can my digital nomad visa pave the path to permanent residency or even citizenship?
There are some instances where a digital nomad visa can help you gain permanent residency or even citizenship. However, it still largely depends on the country you’re eyeing.
In Hungary, the maximum length of their digital nomad visa is for a year, so it can’t lead to permanent residency or citizenship. In Portugal, however, the governmentallows remote worker visas to be extended and approved for permanent residency.
How much do digital nomads earn?
The average income for a digital nomad is about $50,000 to $100,000 per year. That's not bad at all! But what's more interesting is the number of hours they work each week. Many digital nomads work between 30 to 50 hours each week which means they're earning about $20 to $30 per hour on average.
Which country is the best for digital nomads?
Well, what country is best depends on the person and their needs.
Some of the factors that determine a great place for digital nomads are usually places with a wide range of co-working spaces, nomad-friendly cafes, and reliable internet infrastructures.
There are many great destinations for digital nomads, but here are some of the best:
Thailand, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Costa Rica.