Remote work evolution: Unpacking the Digital Nomad Visa

Preparing for new frontiers of remote working

The Covid-19 pandemic proved that the majority of employees can work from anywhere; and now employees want the flexibility to work from wherever they choose. One of the most exciting additions to the immigration landscape has been the Digital Nomad Visa, but how can it help you and your employees to take advantage of a global shift to international remote working? Does it enhance your employee value proposition, and can you do it compliantly?

What is a Digital Nomad Visa?

A Digital Nomad Visa is a relatively new kind of visa that enables the holder to work legally—usually on a temporary basis—in a foreign country, for the benefit of their home country employer. Some existed in legislation previously, but they really took off during and following the Covid-19 pandemic, as people took advantage of a shift towards remote working.

Similar to a tourist visa, Digital Nomad Visas tend to be quick and easy to obtain, and typically don’t involve employer sponsorship. Unlike a tourist visa, they allow the holder to work, and usually permit a longer duration of stay, but conditions such as not working for a local employer usually apply. Sounds great, right? Keep reading below for more details.

Why are we seeing an increase in Digital Nomad Visas?

Faced with an ongoing skills shortage after Covid-19, employers increasingly need to be adaptable, and allowing international remote work is a great way of attracting and retaining talent.

Governments are also recognizing the economic benefits of attracting digital nomads, and there are now over 50 countries offering Digital Nomad Visas.

Our New Work Journey Survey gathered operational market insights from over 800 companies from 40 countries and 7 regions on how they are managing their remote workers.

37 percent of companies surveyed allow their employees to work temporarily from a location they are not a citizen of, but with 70 percent of these companies requiring that their people hold the right to work in order to do so, a Digital Nomad Visa is a great solution to ensure immigration compliance.

13 percent of companies surveyed are already assisting employees to obtain the right to work (a Digital Nomad Visa or otherwise), and we expect that this will increase as employers incorporate international remote work into their employee proposition.

What are the key benefits of Digital Nomad Visas

There are several benefits of Digital Nomad Visas, when compared to ‘traditional’ work permits, including:

  • Digital Nomad Visas also grant the right to work (albeit remotely) but are typically issued more quickly and with significantly less supporting documentation required.
  • Digital Nomad Visas are usually a self-sponsored option, meaning that applicants typically won’t require any input from their employer.
  • Digital Nomad Visas generally permit a longer stay in-country than might otherwise be allowable. This is particularly attractive for UK nationals looking to work remotely from a country in Europe, especially if they own property there, as they will no longer be limited to the 90/180 Schengen day threshold in that country (although tax/social security thresholds may still apply).
  • Digital Nomad Visas sometimes grant the holder income tax reliefs, in some cases removing tax obligations completely.
  • They cater for an increased demand in nomadic lifestyles and wellness supporting a more modern style of mobility.

Are there any challenges relating to Digital Nomad Visas to be aware of?

  • Minimum salary levels can be prohibitive, particularly where companies are trying to put an equitable policy in place, for example, the UAE requires applicants to have a minimum monthly salary of USD 3,500.
  • Application fees in some countries can be high, which may not be viable if employees are planning to stay just a few weeks. A number of countries, including Barbados, charge government processing fees of USD 2,000 or more.
  • Some Digital Nomad Visas, such as Norway’s Independent Contractor visa, are limited to self-employed individuals only. This means typical employees are unable to benefit.
  • Regulatory legislation, for example, in the legal or financial services sectors, may prohibit remote work even if a Digital Nomad Visa can be obtained.
  • Some Digital Nomad Visas may not be suitable for short-term remote work. Our survey results confirmed that employers are only permitting international remote work for an average of 30 days, however, a number of countries are issuing Digital Nomad Visas for a minimum duration of six months.
  • Digital Nomad Visas typically don’t offer a route to permanent residency.
  • Employee and employer tax and social security reporting and withholding requirements will likely need to be considered in a number of countries.

Where could I work?

More Digital Nomad Visas are being introduced all the time. Have a look at our latest list and start planning your trip!

View our Digital Nomads Visa Guide.

How we can help

Whether you need help drafting or refining your remote work policy, putting in place a governance framework, obtaining digital nomad visas for your employees, risk and compliance assessments, or automating the tracking of your remote population—we can help.

Contacts us

For a deeper discussion on the above, please reach out to your Vialto Partners point of contact, or alternatively:

Claire Pepper
Partner, EMEA Business Travel and Remote Work Lead

Amanda McIntyre
Partner, Global Remote Work Lead

Eleanore Burton
Manager, Business Travel and Remote Work Specialist

The information contained in this document is for general guidance on matters of interest only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Vialto is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

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