Friday June 21, 2024

The future is digital

By Dr Imran Batada
October 12, 2022

Digital nomads tend to work remotely from different locations. They don’t just work in one designated office; instead they work in co-working spaces, libraries, homes, coffee shops, vacation spots, and other places they feel ideal. This is possible through the use of laptops, mobile phones, and wireless connections.

There are no restrictions when it comes to working as a freelancer or a digital nomad. Such workers form many bonds through their freelancing escapades. Digital nomads tend to enjoy being productive as they work from different locations of their choice where they can get the motivation to work.

Imagine a workstation from where one can see the bright sand and the beach; this will inspire people to work harder. Working from different places each day exposes freelancers to diverse experiences, which boost their creativity. Digital nomads are also highly adaptable and engage with different people and cultures. They become more productive as they interact with different environments.

Travelling also helps them improve their brain’s reaction to change. Digital nomads also always have the tendency to learn new skills and have more time to do things they love. They can schedule their time well for the different functions they are passionate about.

Most digital nomads engage in different fields such as accounting, customer service, design, editing, healthcare, IT, marketing, project marketing, website development, writing, HR, sales, software development, tutoring, transcription, virtual assistant, etc. To become a successful digital nomad, it is important to get rid of any kind of unnecessary expenses; freelancers must use their income well, get travel health insurance, attain financial freedom, and unlock their phone from the different phone or sim card restrictions when they travel.

The emergence of digital nomads’ visas for freelancers will expose them to different possibilities of travelling and being beneficial in the process. Also, digital nomads need to make a budget, plan for the worst scenarios, join a digital nomad community, have ready Wi-Fi/wireless connections, communicate with the locals, research their destinations, and have enough money while travelling. This visa will help them travel and be more productive while working.

Digital nomad visas will make it easier for freelancers to work in their preferred locations, companies, and businesses without any restrictions. To get a digital nomad visa, a person will need to be above 18 years, have a specific monthly income and a job they can manage from anywhere in the world. There are over 42 countries that offer digital nomad visas. These include Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua, Bermuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cabo Verde, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Curacao, Dominica, Dubai, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Montserrat, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Romania, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.

Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads due to its visa exemption policy for different nationalities. The Malaysian e-visa is ideal for all remote workers visiting Malaysia. Digital nomads just need to apply for a visa based on how long they wish to stay. Remote workers from eligible countries like the UK, EU member states, and the US can stay in Malaysia visa-free for 14-90 days. The e-visa is available for people from China, India, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Serbia, and Sri Lanka.

The Malaysian e-visa validity is about three months, and the holder must enter the country within 90 days of receiving it. To apply for the e-visa, digital nomads will need a passport from an eligible country – the passport should be valid for at least six months – a passport photo, a return flight reservation, and proof of accommodation. The application is done online and processed within nine working days and travellers receive it via email. If one is not from the eligible country, they can get a visa through the Malaysian embassy. However, to get the digital nomad visa people need to show that their income is over $2,000 per month.

Another example is Portugal. They provide the D7 Visa for digital nomads, which allows non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens to apply for temporary residence in Portugal for up to a year. Successful applicants can live, work or study in Portugal and even bring their children or parents to the country. To qualify, people will need proof of passive income, Portuguese NIF number, Portuguese bank account, proof of accommodation, clean criminal record, health insurance, cover letter, and initial residency details.

To apply, they will need to schedule an appointment with the Portuguese diplomatic missions, fill out the visa application form, submit the required documents, wait for application processing, register their Portugal residence, and attend the interview for a residence permit. They need to show that they get an income of over 635 euros per month.

Another country that offers a digital nomad visa is Dubai. It will give you a chance to live among some of the best hotels, retail stores, beaches, and other amenities. The visa has been available since March 2021 and welcomes remote workers to live in the UAE for one year. People can reapply if they want to stay longer. The advantage of this is that their children can even enrol in schools in Dubai, open a bank account and even get a bank loan. It is one of the first countries in the Middle East to offer a digital nomad visa.

To apply for a Dubai digital nomad visa, people will need a valid passport, work remotely, proof of employment, business ownership where applicable, bank statements, earning about $3,500 per month, and health insurance. They will need to submit the application online and pay an $81 non-refundable processing fee. They will need around $611 for the visa and the residence permit.

In most cases, to qualify, the income should be coming from proper banking channels. Freelancers should be working on reputable freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour and Amazon whose payment systems are straightforward. Most countries are welcoming digital nomads because they want them to settle down there for economic growth. So when they buy a house, car, and other equipment, it will lead to the economic growth of that specific country.

The cost of a digital nomad visa varies in different countries. In some, it may be $200 to up to $2,000 based on the package you take. In the others a nomad visa can cost up to $3,000, including family applications. People can make the application with their spouses or children. However, no extended family members/relatives can be included.

Visa applications can be rejected for a couple of reasons such as if a person has ever been sentenced in court, or if an applicant gives false information about his/her remote job, or if an applicant fails to provide all the required documents, or if the information about the annual income is incorrect. However, once you get the digital nomad visa you can work comfortably from any country.

Freelancers or digital nomads should take advantage of this visa and work from different places. They will feel inspired in different countries and will also interact with different people; they will even feel at ease when exchanging ideas. They will also end up doing more to meet their daily needs. The future of freelancers or digital nomads is promising.

The writer is CTO & director, Centre of Information Technology at IoBM. He tweets @imranbatada and can be reached at: