Last Updated on 3 October 2023 by Jack
With more than 30 digital nomad visas available worldwide, we are left with a bit of a conundrum. Are digital nomad visas actually for digital nomads?
These visas allow remote workers to temporarily live in a country as a digital nomad for a year or even two. But, if you’re familiar with the digital nomad lifestyle, you may be wondering why the visa term is so long.
On average, digital nomads relocate to a new city or country every three or four months. This is usually because it’s the length of a tourist visa in many countries.
So, with such long visa terms and other resident requirements such as a rental lease and paying taxes, are digital nomad visas actually for digital nomads?
While Nomads Embassy wholeheartedly supports digital nomad visas and the opportunities they provide remote workers, we understand that many digital nomads are confused by them.
To help address these concerns, answer common questions, and determine if digital nomad visas are actually for digital nomads, we wrote this article with our thoughts and experience.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who travels while working remotely.
There are many types of digital nomads. Some sell all of their possessions and live out of a suitcase while traveling the world full-time. Others convert a van into their home and are always on the move that way.
Others are part-time digital nomads. They have a home base, but either rent it out or leave it for months at a time to go and work remotely from another destination.
The term digital nomad encompasses many types of lifestyles. The two main features of a digital nomad are that they earn their income working remotely and choose to do it from different parts of the world.
Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to become a digital nomad, thanks to recent technology and job opportunities.
What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
A digital nomad visa is a temporary residence permit that allows remote workers to live in a foreign country while working for their current employer, business, or clients.
It’s important to note that a digital nomad visa does not allow you to seek local employment, and you will have to meet a minimum income requirement.
After a certain period, you may have to leave the country and reapply for the digital nomad visa if you wish to come back. However, some digital nomad visas can lead to permanent residency.
Do you see where we think a digital nomad visa could be problematic for the typical digital nomad?
Why Were Digital Nomad Visas Created?
Digital nomad visas were first introduced in 2020 during the pandemic. Due to the rise in remote work, countries saw the opportunity for people to come and live abroad without changing their jobs.
At first, they were a way to bypass border closures and restrictions. If someone applied for a digital nomad visa, they were able to come into the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the visas have become so popular that they stuck around, and more countries are starting to introduce them.
Now countries see digital nomad visas as an opportunity to boost tourism revenue thanks to these long-staying remote workers who are not taking jobs away from locals. Digital nomads pay rent, shop locally, contribute to the economy, and even pay taxes in some cases.
Are Digital Nomad Visas Actually for Digital Nomads?
Many would argue that digital nomad visas are for expats who aren’t necessarily committed to relocating abroad permanently due to the visa term length.
But as I mentioned before, the digital nomad lifestyle has so many different variations that of course digital nomads can take advantage of digital nomad visas.
Before applying for a digital nomad visa, though, digital nomads should be aware of some common requirements that could put a hold on their current nomadic lifestyle.
Stay in One Place for Six Months
Many digital nomad visas require holders to stay in the country for at least six months out of the year.
There are two reasons for this.
The first is to claim them as tax residents. The general rule is that if you stay 183 days in a country, you are automatically a tax resident.
The second is to provide the opportunity to renew your digital nomad visa for an additional term.
For many digital nomads, six months sounds like an eternity – even with a one-year digital nomad visa term. They are often ready to move to another country after just three months.
However, if you are a slow-traveling digital nomad who doesn’t mind settling down temporarily, then a digital nomad visa may be right for you.
One-Year Accommodations Agreement
Many digital nomad visas, especially those that offer an additional residence permit, require applicants to have signed a 12-month lease.
The authorities need to know where you are living when you apply for a digital nomad visa. For this reason, you need to present a long-term lease or accommodations.
Again, this makes digital nomads stay in one place for longer than they may have planned.
Unfortunately, many digital nomad visas won’t accept the lifestyle of moving around, even if it’s just throughout the country. Authorities require a set address with your name on it.
Opportunity for Permanent Residency
This is a kicker for many digital nomads.
Some digital nomad visas can lead to permanent residency and even citizenship!
But, does this mean that these digital nomad visas are actually for digital nomads?
While this opportunity can be great for families looking to move and stay abroad, the stereotypical digital nomad doesn’t necessarily need this option.
Owe Local Taxes
While there are some digital nomad visas with no tax obligation, others will require you to pay local taxes.
This could become problematic for some digital nomads if they work for an employer in their home country and live abroad. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to look into double-taxation treaties.
For self-employed individuals, it’s a good idea to establish an LLC or similar entity to not only protect their assets but have a firmer idea of where they will owe taxes with a digital nomad visa.
To set up an entity in the EU, we recommend Xolo.
To set up an LLC in the US, we recommend ZenBusiness.
Are You Still a Digital Nomad if You Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa?
Keep in mind that labels are just words. If it’s truly important to you to refer to yourself as a digital nomad, then you just have to meet two requirements.
- Work remotely
- Work remotely away from home
The digital nomad lifestyle is completely up to your interpretation!
There have been too many times we saw members in online communities argue and insult people who didn’t live a digital nomad lifestyle to their standards.
It doesn’t matter!
If you apply for a digital nomad visa and decide to live abroad in one place for a year or two, you can still call yourself a digital nomad.
If being a digital nomad makes you happy, then call yourself that!
Is a Digital Nomad Visa Right for You?
If you work remotely and want to stay in one place abroad for at least six months, then a digital nomad visa may be right for you.
Applying for a digital nomad visa is a big decision. While you don’t have to worry about finding a new job in a foreign country, moving there can be stressful, especially with the visa application process.
Nomads Embassy: The World’s First Embassy for Digital Nomads has simplified the digital nomad visa application process for our members. We have partnered with hand-selected immigration lawyers worldwide to assist you with your documents, applications, and relocating to a new country.
Curious to see which digital nomad visa you’re eligible to apply for?