By Jonathan Kitto, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic change in how many people across the world work, with offices lying empty and the rise of working from home. Many companies, and indeed workers, are now looking at whether this change is merely temporary or whether it should continue, with employees being given the opportunity to work from home permanently.
Many countries across the world have taken to issuing “digital nomad visas” as a means of helping make up the shortfall in tourist income and to tap into the growing trend of remote working. Among the countries taking advantage of this global phenomena are four British Overseas Territories: Montserrat, Bermuda, Anguilla and the Cayman Islands.
The idea of a “digital nomad visa” is that those who are working remotely can do so from abroad, as opposed to in their home countries. These “digital nomads” can reside for longer periods of time than an ordinary tourist but without having to go through the rigmarole of attaining residency visas or citizenship. However, there are often restrictions with digital workers not being permitted to work for local companies and many visas have eligibility criteria that require a sizeable income threshold. The benefit to the British Overseas Territories operating such programmes, is that they can charge application fees to raise government revenues, as well as enjoying the economic boost generated from foreign workers paying for accommodation, utilities and food etc.
A brief overview of the remote working visas available in the British Overseas Territories is as follows:
The “Remote Workers Stamp” in Montserrat was launched on 29th January 2021. For workers to be eligible they must have proof that their employer is registered outside of Montserrat, hold valid health insurance, and require an income of $70,000. There is an application fee of $500 for individuals and $750 for families, with holders of the stamp having the right to stay for up to 12 months (although the Stamp can be renewed). Any children have the right to attend local schools during their stay.
The “Work from Bermuda” scheme enables successful applicants to either work or study remotely from Bermuda for up to 12 months. Holders of this remote working visa are not permitted to work for a locally based company. The programme was set up in August 2020 and has no income requirements, with applicants only required to pay the application fee of $263 as well as holding travel and health insurance.
The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism launched its “Global Citizen Concierge” in October 2020. Single applicants must have an income of $100,000 while two person applicants must have a combined income of $150,000. Applicants with children or dependents must have a household income of $180,000. Children can either be home schooled or enrol in local schools. The application costs $1469 with applicants also requiring health insurance. The Concierge allows for remote workers to stay in the Cayman Islands for up to 2 years.
The “Work from Anguilla” programme was set up in August 2020. Applicants are required to show proof of employment or a business incorporation certificate (to certify that they are employed outside of Anguilla). Both home schooling and attending local schools are allowed although a separate application is required to attend local schools. There are no minimum income requirements to work in Anguilla although there is an application fee of $2000 for individuals and $3000 for families. Applicants are required to have valid health and travel insurance. “Work from Anguilla” allows digital nomads to stay for a period between 3 and 12 months.
It will be interesting to see what long-term benefits remote working visas have for the British Overseas Territories implementing them. It may well be an effective way of economic diversification for those territories that rely heavily on the tourist industry, and we will wait and see if more territories follow suit in implementing remote working visas.