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The world may never fully return to what it was before 2020, but 2021 is already showing that there is light (and sun and sand) at the end of the tunnel. If you’re interested in working abroad, have we ever got some tips for you.
Could 2021 Be the Year of Working Abroad?
If 2020 was the year of working at home, 2021 could be the year of working abroad.
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People are looking to shake off the rust of Covid-inspired lockdowns. They’re tired of travel restrictions and the general feeling that home is the only safe refuge. They see they have new options to spend significant time abroad—without having to leave their jobs in their home countries.
Several attractive tourist locations are hoping to bring back the digital nomads who used to ply their craft within their borders while drawing a paycheck from companies located in the employee’s home country. They are creating special visas that allow people to enter the country and stay for significant lengths of time.
Digital nomads are people who work in fields that allow them to carry out their tasks from anywhere. All they need is the tele-communications infrastructure to communicate with their central office. They just need to receive instructions and file their assignments. The lifestyle has not completely disappeared in the Covid era. However, the number of practitioners of the digital nomad lifestyle has dropped dramatically.
Now, countries that used to host the travelers are looking for ways to help them relocate temporarily. There are strict requirements to qualify, however. Workers who wish to take advantage of these opportunities must make administrative arrangements. But people who are starved for sun and beach of the Caribbean and beyond have options. Some may view these options as simply too good to pass up.
What Employees Need to Know
Countries such as the Cayman Islands, Aruba, and Mexico have created special work visas. These visas allow people to live in their countries tax-free while working for companies abroad. Most of these locations have a minimum salary requirement to ensure that the people can support themselves without turning to the local economy for additional resources. Some must prove they have a minimum bank balance.
In other words, the locations may be attractive and the idea of travel may feel like a gift from heaven after spending most of the year in one place. But in practice, the process isn’t simple. Moreover, there are some important administrative elements.
Take Note of Requirements Around Taxes and Insurance for Working Abroad
First, people need to work out the tax ramifications on their earnings in their home countries. For example, Aruba and Mexico may not require them to pay income taxes. However, workers will need to file those earnings in their home country. The US has Federal, state, and local taxes as well as several social contributions. Therefore, it is highly advisable to check with a tax expert before departing overseas. Otherwise, there could be tax penalties.
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Next is the issue of travel insurance. People who are covered by universal health care in their own countries are not necessarily covered for illness or injury when living abroad. For example, Americans who are covered by Medicare do not receive coverage overseas (or even in Mexico). They may therefore need to purchase private insurance. While Covid continues to run wild, it’s a good idea to get a high grade of coverage. In fact, most countries demand proof of health insurance before entering the country.
Most of the options are open to people who are either employed abroad or self-employed. However, every country is different. It’s important to research any destination in advance to know the length of the visa. Additionally, people should understand the specific requirements and whether a country’s visa is open to all types of employees or limited to a particular employment category.
Here are some countries that are offering relocation schemes and the conditions that people have to meet in order to qualify:
Antigua and Barbuda
The Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda created the The Nomad Digital Resident Visa Programme to attract people who want to live there for up to two years. The visa grants residency provided the person does not seek employment at any local establishment or work for a company that has a permanent entity on the islands. Moreover, a person must earn a minimum of $50,000 a year. The visa is valid for employees for companies abroad and for the self-employed.
There is no doubt who the Cayman Islands are targeting with their new Global Citizens Concierge program. The website declares: “Digital nomads are encouraged to pack up their laptops and swim trunks for up to two years of sun, sand, sea and safety in the Cayman Islands.”
The catch, however, is that this option is perfect—if you’re on the high end of the earnings spectrum. Minimum salary to qualify is $100,000 a year for a single person, and $150,000 for a couple traveling together. If they have children, the minimum rises to $180,000. The visa is good for up to two years, so there is an opportunity to really feel like a temporary relocation.
On the other end of the spectrum from the Cayman Islands is the Caribbean Island of Aruba. Although the work visa is short—only 90 days—all it takes to qualify is a valid passport. That makes it a great opportunity for a little change of pace for a short time. Plus, it’s a chance to soak in the sun at a great tourist destination.
People can obtain a special one-year visa to work for their American company without paying income taxes in Mexico. The minimum earnings requirement is $1,620 per month, and a person must have a bank balance of at least $27,000 to qualify. If the would-be digital nomad meets the qualifications, however, there are opportunities to renew the special visa three times—as long as they don’t try to work for Mexican companies. That makes Mexico a solid destination option for people who want to travel abroad for a considerable length of time while staying close to the US.
People looking to stay in Mexico and work for a Mexican company should make themselves aware of the regular employment laws as detailed here.
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Other countries that offer similar opportunities for 12-month stays include Barbados, Georgia, and Dubai.
Will 2021 Be Your Year to Begin Working Abroad?
With Covid turning the world upside down, these countries are doing their best to restore the feeling of freedom and normality. The world may never fully return to what it was before 2020, but 2021 is already showing that there is light (and sun and sand) at the end of the tunnel.