With the uprise of remote workers, the population of digital nomads has also skyrocketed, leading countries to find new ways to offset the losses caused by decreased tourism.
Estonia, which has one of the most advanced digital governments, introduced a digital nomad visa in 2018.
“We saw a gap in the visa market precisely because nomads have been forced to exist in this legal grey area between ‘tourist’ and ‘worker,’” said Alex Wellman, communications lead for Estonian e-Residency, the country’s digital resident initiative. “We took the opportunity to solve that problem with a legitimate route for location-independent workers to base here. As a society, we recognize the need for overseas talent to contribute to the development of our business ecosystem, labor market, and overall economy.”
In order to be eligible for the visa, participants have to have an employment contract with a non-Estonian company, conduct business through their own company or be a freelancer, and have a monthly income of at least $4,160 for the six months prior to applying.
Additionally, Barbados launched its Welcome Stamp program just one month prior to Estonia’s, allowing remote workers to relocate to the island for up to one year as long as they have an annual income of $50,000 and agree to purchase local health insurance.
“We are not a large nation, so the digital economy gives us our window of opportunity,” said Peter Thompson, the entrepreneur who pitched the visa. “Getting ahead as a country is not just what you know, but who you know,”