You might have heard of a recent trend of people moving all their work online and, instead of living in big cities or near where their job is headquartered, living around the world in exotic locales. These people are called digital nomads, and there’s been an increase in the lifestyle’s popularity over the past couple of years.
Now, some governments are looking at ways to bring that income into their local economies. According to a new Migration Policy Institute report, more than 25 countries and territories have now launched digital nomad visas. For example, in the United Arab Emirates, the government is offering a one-year digital nomad visa, which allows people to live in the UAE without necessarily working for a company there. Costa Rica also recently began accepting applications for its own digital nomad visa for those employed by foreign companies that want to live in the country.
This is a big deal for a lot of people. If you’ve ever gone through the visa process, you know it’s a lot of hassle. Plus, for an employment visa, you usually have to prove that you’ll be working for a company with some physical presence there. But the problem is that for many of these digital nomads, that obviously doesn’t work since their work and residence don’t always correspond.
Partly, governments are worried about people trying to avoid paying taxes, but for most nomads, taxes aren’t the main problem. It’s establishing a legal, semi-permanent residence in a foreign country.
For countries creating this new visa category, it can mean exposing new people to the economy with relatively little investment. Basically, a person is getting paid from outside the country and pumping money into the local economy as a resident and consumer.
“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,” said Luca Carabetta, an Italian member of Parliament.