Digital Nomads Alert: Spain Readies New Visa To Attract Remote Workers

One of the legacies of the Covid-19 pandemic is the evidence that many jobs can, in fact, be done remotely. That has opened the floodgates to a way of life that has been on the rise for years: the digital nomad, working remotely while living abroad.

To facilitate this sea-change in work, companies are adapting, technology is improving, lodging is getting reconfigured, small towns are offering inventive housing programs and countries are tailoring legislation to facilitate digital nomad visas in a concerted effort to attract foreign remote workers.

“Visas for digital nomads fill a legal vacuum for remote workers who wish to spend short or extended periods of time abroad working independently,” etiasvisa explains. “These professionals can take their job with them anywhere they go. (Usually they only need a laptop and an internet connection.)”

Digital nomad visas in Europe

In Europe, a number of countries already offer digital nomad visas with some variations among them but generally following the same idea: granting a temporary residency permit that allows foreigners to stay from six months to two years.

Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Iceland, Greece, Portugal and the Czech Republic are on the list of 15 European countries offering total or partial versions — such as Germany, where the digital nomad visas are valid only for one year.

“In Iceland, for instance, applicants to the scheme must prove they earn at least €7,100 a month, while Portugal’s visa asks people to stay in the country for a minimum of 16 months in the first two years of being approved for the scheme,” Sifted explains.

Applicants in Greece must have a monthly income of €3,500 while the Czech Republic requires at least €5,500 in the bank. Some others demand private health insurance.

“Each country has its own set of conditions,” the Guardian explains. “In Croatia, for example, applicants must be earning at least €2,300 a month, in Estonia €3,500 and in Portugal only €700.”

Spain gets ready

Spain now is about to join the list of countries offering visas to non-European Union remote workers that will be initially valid for one year, renewable for up to five years, with close relatives such as spouses and children eligible to join the applicant.

The ruling has been highly anticipated for years as Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, among other Spanish cities, are already highly sought locations by digital nomads and other remote and freelance workers.

Barcelona, in particular, is committed to transform itself into an international technology hub and thus be less dependent on tourism.

“Under the recently introduced Startup Act in the Spanish Parliament, people working remotely for foreign companies will be permitted to live in the country without needing a full work visa,” Spainvisa writes. “The hope is this will boost talent and investment in Spain and improve the country’s credentials as a global business hub.”

The new Spanish visa, the site explains, has been created for foreign employees from Non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

People with E.U. passports or arriving from Schengen countries can already work remotely in the country for less than six months of the year without be required to register officially.

“Spain plans to issue ‘digital nomad’ visas giving Britons and other non-E.U. citizens the chance to work in the sun and enjoy a lower cost of living with tax breaks thrown in for good measure,” the Guardian writes.

Among the conditions, applicants must demonstrate that they’ve been working remotely at least for a year, for businesses outside Spain, and have an employment contract or, if independent freelancers, that they’ve been regularly contracted by a company outside Spain and that they earn enough to be self-sufficient and have an address in Spain.

It has been reported that the country will set a minimum monthly income of about €2,000.

As inducement, digital nomads will be taxed at 15% rather than the standard 25% base rate for the first four years.

Fast internet, cheap housing, online visa

Spain’s internet speed is among the fastest in Europe, permitting digital nomads to move to rural areas where rents are low. Many small cities and towns are coming up with original programs in a bid to attract digital nomads as a lifeline for their waning populations.

The new Spanish visa accompanies the launch of the new European Union wide ETIAS visa waiver that will permit tourists to obtain online travel authorizations by the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, starting in November 2023.

The ETIAS Visa Waiver, planned to improve the security of the Schengen Area, will become a requirement for all foreigners who want to enter Spain or any of the other countries in the Schengen Area or countries in the process of joining Schengen, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania.

Unlike the Schengen Visa, applicants will not need physically to go to an embassy or consulate and the ETIAS waiver will be valid for three-year periods. The holder will be allowed to travel around the Schengen Area.

“To apply, applicants will need to complete the online ETIAS application form by answering a series of questions and paying a fee using a credit or debit card. The vast majority of applications will be quickly approved after the information has been screened against relevant security databases,” Spainvisa explains.

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