It’s been several months since the United States began advising or mandating that more than two-thirds of American employees work from home, and for many, the monotony of dialing into video calls from your couch has begun to lose its luster. With major U.S. corporations like Google and Facebook announcing their employees will be fully remote until at least summer of next year, and Twitter, Slack, and Shopify announcing they will allow employees to work remotely indefinitely, many Americans who have been working from home since March are craving a major change of scenery.
Unfortunately, packing up a laptop and heading to the beach might not be as easy as it once was. Many countries are currently closed to U.S. passport holders, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Several countries, however, are welcoming Americans with open arms, and extending long-term remote work visas to Americans who are currently employed in the U.S. If you’re an American feeling comfortable enough to relocate for a few months or even a full year, here are a few options for where to set up that new standing desk.
This summer, Barbados launched its Barbados Welcome Stamp program, allowing Americans to live and work on the island —known for its idyllic beaches and excellent surf conditions—for up to a full year. The application, which costs $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for a “family bundle” that would include a spouse and any children under the age of 26, requires a passport, a description of the applicant’s current employment, and an income declaration stating that the applicant will “expect to earn an income of $50,000 over the next 12 months” and/or have the financial means to support themselves during their stay.
Americans looking to spend time near the majestic Caucasus Mountains or get a taste of the country’s buzzy wine scene are in luck: the country of Georgia, located on the border between Europe and Asia, is inviting “citizens of all countries” to work remotely in the country for six months or longer. Applicants will need to submit proof of employment, travel insurance covering no less than 6 months, and agree to a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival at their own expense. All applicants accepted into the program will be able to travel within Europe’s 26 country Schengen area for up to 90 days during their stay. The online application can be found here.
Dreaming of pink sand beaches? Bermuda recently launched a year-long residency certificate for remote workers and students seeking to either work or study remotely on the island . The application, which costs $263, requires a passport and proof of employment for non-students; students who apply are prohibited from working during their stay. Before departure, applicants must complete a travel authorization form online that will require a $75 fee going towards any COVID-19 testing costs while on the island. Once on the island, COVID-19 tests will be administered on days four, eight, and 14 of the first two weeks of your stay, and all visitors will be asked to report their temperatures twice daily.
Just north of Greece on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, beautiful Albania has long been considered an up-and-coming European getaway. Now Americans have the opportunity to take full advantage of some of the most stunning beaches in the Balkans—at half the price of nearby countries—with a tourist visa allowing them to stay in the country for up to one year. Those planning to work while abroad will need to apply for a residency permit, which is valid for up to five years. Aside from your temperature taken upon arrival, the country does not require a mandatory quarantine or COVID-19 test results to enter.
Estonia, a Baltic gem on the Gulf of Finland, boasts old-school European style, 13th-century medieval architecture, and a unique art and fashion scene in its capital city of Tallinn. The country is not currently allowing Americans to visit as tourists, but remote workers and students can enter under the newly launched Digital Nomad Visa , which allows those with proof of employment or study to live in the country for up to one year. Applicants must pay a $118 application fee as well as show proof of a minimum gross monthly income of $3,530 in order to qualify. A 14-day quarantine is mandated upon arrival.
Similarly to the United States, Mexico is in the process of reopening after a long lockdown due to COVID-19. While its land border with the U.S. remains closed, the country is now welcoming American travelers by air and offering a visitors’ permit that will allow them to live and work in Mexico for up to six months. Those looking to stay longer can obtain a Temporary Resident Visa that will allow residency in the country for one year, with the ability to be extended up to three times. Applicants for long-term stay must meet specific financial requirements, such as a proven monthly income of $1,945 or proof of savings amounting to a minimum of $32,400.
Seeking refuge with a side of reggae and rum? As of June 15, U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica can obtain a visa upon arrival allowing a stay of up to 30 days, or apply for a separate visa, which allows a stay of up to six months. All Americans entering the country must complete an extensive Travel Authorization application before being allowed in, and those coming from states deemed as high risk by Jamaican health authorities—Arizona, Florida, Texas, and New York—must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of departure in order to be eligible for a visa. A 14-day quarantine is mandated upon arrival.
In September, Aruba announced the launch of their One Happy Workcation program, which allows U.S. citizens to live and work on the island for up to 90 days. The program will include discounted experiences, local activities, and long-term stays at the island's hotels, with several properties throwing in all-inclusive food and beverage packages to sweeten the deal. No visa requirements are necessary; however, Americans must comply with the island's safety protocols, including a mandatory test taken either 72 hours prior to or upon arrival, the purchase of Aruba visitors' insurance, and all regulations for social distancing and mask wearing.
This October, Dubai announced the launch of a digital work visa that will allow remote workers and their families to stay in the emirate for up to one year. The application, which costs $287, asks workers to show proof of employment and a monthly income of at least $5,000 a month, as well as provide last month's pay stub, three months worth of bank statements, health insurance valid in the United Arab Emirates, and a passport with at least 6 months of validity. Approved remote workers can open a bank account in Dubai, get a local phone number, and even enroll their children in local schools. According to the United Arab Emirates' website, remote workers will not have to pay income taxes in Dubai.
Antigua and Barbuda
This dual-island nation in the Caribbean recently announced that it will allow remote workers earning at least $50,000 a year to live and work there for up to two years through a new Nomad Digital Residence program. The program provides special resident status to digital nomads who show the means to support themselves as well as any accompanying family members whose employers are based outside of the destination. The application fee for a single applicant is $1,500, $2,000 for couples and $3,000 for a family of three or more.
For those earning an income of $100,000 or more, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism announced a Global Citizen Concierge Program, allowing travelers to live on the island for up to two years while working remotely. In addition to the income requirements - which comes with a "discount" of $150,000 for couples and $180,000 for families with children - applicants must supply a valid passport, proof of employment outside of the Cayman Islands, a notarized bank reference letter, proof of health insurance coverage, and an application fee of $1,469. All applicants are also subject to background checks.
This November, Iceland announced that its Work in Iceland program, previously only open to residents within the European Schengen area, is now open to Americans who can "demonstrate an employment relationship with a foreign company (or verify self-employment in the country where they have a permanent residence) and meet the income and health insurance requirements.” Those income requirements? One million Icelandic krona monthly - equal to a monthly income of $7,360 or $88,000 annually. Those who are approved for the visa will be able to live and work in Iceland for up to 6 months.
Government of Barbados. "Your Guide to Working Remotely in Barbados."
Government of Bermuda. "Work From Bermuda Certificate."
Republic of Estonia. "Estonia Is Launching a New Digital Nomad Visa for Remote Workers."