In recent weeks, Barbados, Bermuda, Estonia and Georgia have announced new extended-stay visas for individuals who earn their income abroad.
As the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns spur remote work opportunities and crush tourism, a handful of countries are rolling out special visas for people who want to temporarily relocate. In recent weeks, Barbados, Bermuda, Estonia and Georgia have announced new extended-stay visas for individuals who earn their income abroad.
“In Barbados, of course, they want to try to get people to the island,” says Bobby Casey, managing director of Global Wealth Protection, a financial advisory service for location-independent people. Besides offshore financial services and tourism, “there is not a lot going on there,” he adds.
The global health crisis has further fueled many existing trends. Remote work jumped by 159% in the US between 2005 and 2019, according to a report by Global Workplace Analytics, a consultancy, and FlexJobs, an online job-search firm. A 2018 study by MBO Partners, a workplace solution consultancy, found that 4.8 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads—“independent workers who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world”—and an estimated 17 million more aspired to follow their lead.
They have typically been freelancers or small-scale entrepreneurs, but the pandemic-generated upsurge in remote work opens that option to a wider range of workers.
“This virus has been a huge tipping point,” says Johannes Voelkner, founder of the Nomad Cruise, which organizes floating conferences for location-independent professionals (now on hold due to health concerns). “I had been waiting for it, but I didn`t think it would come through a virus.”
Facilitating these trends are technological advances of the last 15 years, Casey says, notably the introduction of Skype in 2004, which drastically reduced telecommunications costs, and the more recent broadband explosion. The enabling technology has continued to multiply and improve, most recently in the form of robust online conferencing platforms such as Zoom.