As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, travel remains an exercise in risk management for ourselves and the communities we visit. Even for those who feel safe flying and are traveling responsibly, there’s not a lot of options.
Most places are still keeping their borders shut, and others are requiring lengthy quarantine periods. The 2019 script for international travel—lots of shorter trips or visits to multiple countries—isn’t feasible for the foreseeable future.
But, there’s a new option: traveling slowly, living and immersing yourself in a new country for one year, all while keeping your day job.
Our professional lives have become portable.
For people who aren’t full-time digital nomads, the opportunity to pick up and move to another continent for a few weeks, six months, or even a full year while staying employed is rare.
The irony of Covid-19 is that while we remain homebound, for many of us, our professional lives have never been so unmoored as work-from-home becomes the norm. Now, long-term remote work can be an opportunity to live overseas—without putting your job on hold. It’s a travel experience unique to the Covid-19 era.
Place your carry-on (and your job) in the overhead bin.
Many of us have dreamed about taking a year off and moving abroad, and a number of countries, including Mexico and Albania, provide long-term visa options to US citizens. However, unlike a remote work visa, these do not extend the right to work legally outside of your home country.
Now remote workers (even temporary ones) are being courted to move and set up temporary residence abroad while their offices are closed. Four countries have already made this a possibility by offering remote work visas to capitalize on a highly skilled and newly mobile global workforce.
Countries where you can work remotely long term.
Here’s the list of new programs that have been announced in 2020 that extend both residency and the legal right to work remotely for a foreign company.
A perennial destination for cruise ships, Barbados reopened for American tourism on July 12. The Barbados Welcome Stamp allows workers to stay for 12 months from the date of approval, and the visa itself costs $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for a family at the time of approval. While the price is steep, it’s one of the few options for applying together as a family.
Promising a five-day turnaround, the Work from Bermuda Certificate allows workers to live on the island for up to 12 months, buy a car, and even enroll their children in local schools. Bermuda reopened for American tourism on July 1, so it’s possible to apply now for $263. If you fall in love with the island, the certificate is also renewable once your first year is up.
While applications are now being accepted for Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa (DNV), Americans will have to wait to apply until the European Union reopens for American tourism. However, once available, the DNV allows the holder to work not just in Estonia, but also while traveling through other Schengen Zone countries. This application will require a trip to your local consulate—unlike the others on the list, it cannot be completed online.
Georgia previously allowed select foreigners to stay up to a year, and now the Georgian government has announced that it will begin taking applications for remote work visas imminently. Successful applicants will still undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Additionally, Hawaii is offering a Movers and Shakas remote work program that includes free roundtrip trips discounts on accommodation (at one of Hawaii’s participating hotels, resorts, or vacation rentals) restaurants, and co-working spaces for those who stay one month or more. But, they're only accepting 50 people into the program.