A handful of small territories and nations around the globe, after successfully managing the first wave of coronavirus, are now launching year-long remote worker visas in hopes of cushioning battered economies with an influx of monied foreigners, according to the BBC. These new visa schemes posit a version 2.0 of the “digital nomad” lifestyle – one that’s slower, more calculated and, in some cases, aimed at an entirely different audience now that remote work has entered the mainstream.
Government officials in Bermuda, which reopened its borders on 1 July, noticed that tourists were asking how to extend their 90-day entry visas. Meanwhile, the tourism community saw visitors doing things they’d never done before, such as joining gyms and booking villas for months on end. “We hope this visa can be a test-drive for some business people – even if they haven’t necessarily set out on a test drive – as they might fall in love with the place and want to make it a permanent business home,” says Glenn Jones, interim CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
Bermuda is just one example of these emerging remote-work programmes. The Caribbean island of Barbados implemented a similar 12-month Welcome Stamp plan in July. Another tourism-dependent country, Georgia, also announced a project to lure digital nomads in July, though Economy Minister Natia Turnava has released few details. All places offering these new visas have seen relatively few coronavirus infections, and each has enacted strict protocols. The number of people able to apply for these kinds of visas may be growing – at least, among those whose jobs have been less affected by the global economic downturn. Marilyn Devonish, a flexible-work strategist based in London, says there’s been “a seismic shift in the way the world works, with remote and flexible working likely to become the norm after the pandemic is over once organisations learn how to effectively manage and motivate remote employees.”