Every year more and more countries introduce digital nomad visas to attract people to stay for longer periods of time, and this trend is only starting to rise. A digital nomad visa is an optimal solution to stay long term abroad as a digital nomad, expat, remote worker, or online business owner.
In this article, we describe the main elements of a digital nomad visa, the things you need to be aware of, and the developments we would like to see in the future.
What is a digital nomad visa?
Digital nomad visas are special residency programs for location-independent people, who can live around the world while sustaining themselves without relying on the local economy. It allows you to reside in a country while working remotely. Currently, 25 countries are offering digital nomad visas. The biggest difference between a digital nomad visa to other residency options are:
- Fewer requirements
- Financial independence
- It doesn’t provide a work permit
- No influence on the local economy or job market
Digital nomad visas focus too much on length of stay
Digital nomad visas mostly emphasize the length of stay. We believe digital nomad visas are focused too much on a length of stay without providing additional value to the visa holder. We think digital nomad visas should focus on adaptation to a new country, making the stay more comfortable and less challenging. This way some digital nomads might even decide to make the countries their homebase.
We would like to see a digital nomad visa that gives people the opportunity to stay in the country and leave the country for a long period of time. At the moment it’s generally not possible, because many such visas lose their validity after leaving a country for an extended period of time. They require you to stay in one place while giving up the freedom to travel, making you must always count the time you spend abroad in order to keep your visa.
In the end, the main value of the digital nomad visa is the possibility to stay longer in the country. But think about it, do you really need this benefit? In fact, many digital nomads have good passports, meaning they can go to most parts of the world without a visa and stay for some period of time.
There are countries that allow foreigners to stay for up to six months, without any obligation to visas. Mexico will let you stay for six months, while Georgia will let you stay for up to one year, visa free.
Therefore, the length of the digital nomad visa and staying in a country might not be the priority for all location-independent professionals.
Digital nomad visas require a high minimum income
One of the main requirements of digital nomad visas is to have a relatively high income or amount of money in a bank. So you need to be prepared to present some financial proof.
At the same time, it’s also a big issue of digital nomad visas, because not every person working remotely has that level of income. Hence, you can’t apply for a visa when making less than 3,000 US dollars in many cases. For a digital nomad program, it’s a quite high amount, which makes it a high barrier to entry for most people.
Countries with an affordable cost of living shouldn’t set their standards that high. Most of the digital nomads come to places like Serbia, Mexico, or Thailand to reduce their expenses.
Moreover, if digital nomads won’t have the means to prove such high income, they would loose the opportunity of getting a digital nomad visa.
Bureaucratic matters when applying for a digital nomad visa
Nomads also have seen some bureaucratic hassle related to applying for and getting a digital nomad visa. You as an applicant should go to the representative embassy of the country abroad and submit your application. This also makes digital nomad visas less attractive.
Especially, when most of the location independent people are used to flying into a country, renting an Airbnb, and figuring things out on the go. For that reason, many of us hesitate to deal with such visas, as it takes time and involves bureaucratic hassle. Make sure you are aware of all processes and requirements you will need to get through before making a final decision on such a visa.
We think that given the choice, digital nomads will just keep on going to places where they can just fly visa-free and enjoy their time.
The community aspect of being a digital nomad
As we all know, flying to a country and being a digital nomad can be a very lonely experience. In fact, loneliness is one of the biggest problems for digital nomads. People need to connect with other nomads and expats, as well as with locals who are interested in meeting foreigners.
Here at Support Adventure, we would like to see digital nomad visas giving you an opportunity to be able to stay for the next five years without being restricted by only one place.
A membership club of digital nomads and expats under the same visa program can solve this problem. It would be really good to have all the other people who are holding digital nomad visas to be a member of a club, or an online forum, where you can talk to like-minded people. Countries might also develop communities of foreigners, in-person events, and co-working spaces so we can all work together.
Moreover, governments can foster this foreign community by diverting some of the money generated from digital nomad programs. This way they will improve the social life of location independent professionals and help them to connect with each other. This could attract more foreigners to this place, hence the state will benefit financially.
An example of this can be the city Chiang Mai in Thailand, which thrives because of the digital nomad community. There are other beautiful places in Thailand to be based in as a nomad, but people prefer this city mostly because of the established community.
Of course, Chiang Mai is also very affordable, developed, and has its sightseeings, but digital nomads drive the local economy to a big extent, and without them, the city wouldn’t have as much tax revenue to build and sustain these amazing places.
Banking and taxes with digital nomad visa
Currently, these visas don’t offer an optimal solution for digital nomads in terms of banking and taxes, the two main things you need to consider when relocating as a digital nomad.
As a matter of fact, you need a good, reliable and international bank account while living abroad, that is suitable to use around the world. Unfortunately, in many cases, we lose a lot of money on ATMs fees, exchange rates, etc.
Overall, we think that all digital nomad visas should add banking service as a part of the program. A good banking solution will solve many problems for perpetual travelers.
In some cases, it will be beneficial for digital nomads to become tax residents of some countries. Usually, you will become a tax resident in a country after spending some extended time there (over 6 months).
Some nomads might also want to form a company abroad. That way they can gain some financial benefits or withdraw their foreign income. There are countries that have already made it possible (such as Serbia or Estonia).
Ultimately, the digital nomad visas should invest in the following services to accommodate nomads:
- bank accounts
- tax residency
- mailing addresses
However, having a company abroad or being a tax resident in another country can get quite complicated. Hence, you should request some professional help before making any decision.
Become a digital nomad with us
If you always dreamed about becoming a digital nomad, we can make it possible for you! To be a digital nomad, you will need a suitable job and an employer who is compliant with the fact you are working abroad.
Here at Support Adventure, we’re known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere.
We mostly have positions open for helpdesk IT support. So if you have experience or even interest in IT, don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us here!