More than 25 countries and territories have now launched digital nomad visas, according to a new Migration Policy Institute report. The trend, sparked by the pandemic, began with small, tourism-dependent European and Caribbean nations. Now, larger economies like the UAE, Brazil and Italy are all launching their own initiatives.
For these countries, digital nomad visas are a way of attracting new ideas and talent to their shores as well as capitalising on the growth of remote work to inject foreign capital into the local economies.
Meanwhile, for nomads like Tremblay, the visas offer stability and a chance to become what he calls “slow-mads” – long-stay nomads who spend more time learning about the local culture “instead of treating host countries as temporary distractions”.
Requirements for the digital nomad visas vary from country to country, but typically entail proof of remote employment, travel insurance and minimum monthly earnings – all to ensure visa holders can support themselves without taking local jobs. The latter can vary from $5,000 (£4,182) a month in the UAE, to $2,770 (£2,317) in Malta or $1,500 (£1,255) in Brazil.
There’s also a fee to apply (anywhere from $200 to $2,000), while the length of stay fluctuates from six months to two years, depending on the visa. Some applicants can earn that money back through perks; Argentina, for example, plans to offer digital nomads on its new visa differential rates on accommodation, co-working spaces and internal flights with Aerolíneas Argentinas.
Luca Carabetta, an Italian parliament member of political party the Five Star Movement, says Italy is combining the best elements of other digital nomad visas to come up with its own, which he says will launch by September at the latest. One of the visa’s main champions, he expects it to attract 5% of the global nomad market, which he estimates to be around 40 million people, in its first full year.
“A digital nomad can bring to us skills in everything from architecture to engineering, so it’s a good way to open up our country to skills from abroad,” explains Carabetta. With the oldest population in Europe, he also sees the temporary visa as a way of attracting younger residents, who can use it to test-drive a more permanent life in the country. “Our ultimate goal could be to have them, yes, as guests in Italy, but also to possibly establish themselves here.”