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These Countries Just Made It Easier for Americans to Move and Work Abroad

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Colorful architecture on view in Bridgetown, Barbados

Photo by byvalet/Shutterstock

Colorful architecture on view in Bridgetown, Barbados

The good news: A number of countries have just opened their doors to digital nomads. The bad news? Reading the fine print can be exhausting—so we did the hard work for you.

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At a time when most borders around the world are shut to American travelers due to concerns over the country’s high rates of COVID-19 transmission, a number of destinations have recently decided instead to offer themselves up not as vacation destinations, but as new homes for digital nomads. 

As Annie Daly reported for AFAR, “In an increasingly connected world, more and more individuals—especially those in the creative and tech sectors, like freelance writers, web developers, and digital marketers—are taking advantage of the opportunities for remote work.” And with the rise in remote work and “location-independent” positions, the United States is seeing an uptick in digital nomads, whether they’re fleeing the big city or just looking for a change of scenery. Here are five countries that have recently touted themselves as destinations for digital nomads, plus information on how to apply. 

Barbados

In early July, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said her government was considering opening its borders to remote workers. By mid-July, they’d released a plan: Titled the “Welcome Stamp,” it allows anyone who can work remotely with internet to apply to stay in the Caribbean country for up to a year. 

Why Barbados?

Near-perfect temperatures alongside a UNESCO World Heritage site capital, plus plenty of things to do. And did we mention the beaches?

Who can apply

Anyone over 18, but applicants must be able to show they can make more than $50,000 annually. 

Cost

$2,000 for individuals; $3,000 for families

How to apply

Visit Barbados Welcome Stamp and complete the application online. Applicants must submit a birth certificate (for self/partner/children), proof of relationship of dependents, an entry visa (where applicable), two passport-sized photographs, and a copy of the data page of their passport(s). A visa will be confirmed or denied within a week. 

Bermuda

In early July, Bermuda’s Ministry of Labor introduced the One-Year Residential Certificate program, which allows visitors to research, study, or work from the North Atlantic island for up to 12 months. Applications open on August 1. 

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The program is aimed at those “who are location-independent, using technology to perform their job no matter where they are,” Bermuda’s labor minister, Hon. Jason Hayward, said in a statement about the new residency policy. “The trend towards remote working has been accelerated by COVID-19. These visitors can reside in Bermuda without seeking employment on the island and will promote economic activity for our country without displacing Bermudians in the workforce.”

Why Bermuda?

Comprising more than 180 islands and islets, the archipelago is nearly all shoreline, meaning it’s more than likely your laptop life will come with a view of pink-sand beaches.

Who can apply

Anyone over 18 with valid health insurance, proof of employment, and income from a company that does not operate in Bermuda.

Cost

$263

How to apply

Complete the Application for Residence form and submit it, along with supporting documentation, including employment references, character references, passport-sized photos, qualifications, and copy of a birth certificate. A visa will be confirmed or denied within two weeks.

Estonia

Estonia’s digital nomad visa has been a long time coming, and on August 1, the program is slated to be up and running. The Baltic nation (and EU member) teased its soon-to-launch digital nomad visa earlier this year, writing: “Digital nomads and remote workers have long faced ambiguity when working while they travel, often skirting the law by working while visiting a country with a tourist visa.

“But soon, eligible location-independent workers can apply for the chance to come to Estonia to live for up to a year with peace of mind that they can legally work.” 

Why Estonia?

Located at the crossroads between Scandinavia and Russia, Estonia has a stunning capital with a UNESCO-listed Old Town and celebrated national parks.

Who can apply

Anyone over 18 who makes at least €3,504 (roughly US$3,530) in gross monthly income and who can work remotely “for an employer registered abroad, for their company registered abroad, or as a freelancer for clients mostly abroad.”

Note that Americans are not currently allowed to travel to Estonia, but there are exceptions made for those working or studying in the country. Upon arrival in Estonia, U.S. citizens must quarantine for two weeks and take two COVID-19 tests.

Cost

The application fee is €80 for a Type C (short stay) visa and €100 for a Type D (long stay) visa. 

How to apply

Visit Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa website and subscribe to its newsletter for the latest information. According to the government, applications are opening “soon.” Once submitted, applications will be reviewed within two weeks.

Georgia

In a statement on July 16, the Economy Minister of Georgia, Natia Turnava, announced the country’s new initiative for attracting digital nomads. 

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“Georgia has the image of an epidemiologically safe country in the world and we want to use this opportunity. We are talking about opening the border in a way to protect the health of our citizens, but, on the other hand, to bring to Georgia citizens of all countries who can work remotely,” said Turnava.

Why Georgia?

Arid desert, subtropical tea plantations, snow-covered peaks, rolling vineyards, all packed into a country only slightly larger than West Virginia. Then there’s the legendary hospitality.

Who can apply

Citizens of all countries who can provide proof of employment and sign a consent form agreeing to a 14-day quarantine at their own expense upon arrival. They must also obtain travel insurance for at least six months. (Per the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, Americans will only be allowed into Georgia if they receive a six-month visa to work there—either self-employed or as a freelancer—or are the spouse of a Georgian citizen or a business traveler.)

Cost

Not yet made available.

How to apply

Though Turnava said on July 16 that an “online platform for applications has been developed” and that the “Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia will make the project public any day now,” there is no available application at this time.

Jamaica

Jamaica hasn’t formalized its remote-worker policy with any new branding, but the country allows digital nomads to work from the island, reports the Washington Post. Americans have been allowed back into the country as of June 15, but all travelers must fill out a Travel Authorization form and adhere to protocols once on the island. 

Why Jamaica?

The third-largest island in the Caribbean—and the birthplace of Bob Marley, reggae, and jerk cuisine—Jamaica offers beaches, culture, and friendly people to make you feel like you’re on permanent vacation.

Who can apply

Travelers approved for travel to Jamaica who receive a 30-day visa. They can then apply for a longer visa once on the island.

Cost

A nonrefundable fee of JMD$14,400 (US$98) must be submitted with an application for self-employed remote work. Should approval be granted, applicants will have to pay a work permit fee that varies in price depending on the duration of the stay. 

How to apply

Applications for work permits must include a cover letter with the following information: The nature and duration of the work, certified copies of the credentials of the applicant, two passport photos, the applicant’s resume, and the individual’s police record. The work permit forms can be found on the Jamaican government’s website, and the turnaround time for approval is between four to six weeks.

>> Next: An Expert Guide to Traveling the World as a Digital Nomad

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