5 Caribbean Digital Nomad Visa Programs For Remote Workers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, work, and play.  Most countries are in various stages of lockdown with enforced social distancing, and millions more than before are now working from home instead of the traditional office environment. Heck, large corporate entities like Airbnb, American Express, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, and Twitter have all announced that their employees can work from home long term or even permanently; and some of the middle and upper-income earners from these companies not content with waiting out the coronavirus pandemic cooped up in their home offices are researching and applying for a digital nomad visa from programs across the world including a few from the Caribbean.

What is a Digital Nomad Visa?

So what exactly is a digital nomad visa? Well, a digital nomad visa, sometimes referred to as a remote worker visa or temporary resident visa allows a person the opportunity to live in a foreign country for an extended period without being subject to that country’s tax laws and without having to go through the often laborious process to obtain a residency visa or citizenship.

A digital nomad visa allows for a more extended stay than a typical tourist visa, but persons are limited when it comes to employment. Most of the programs do not allow digital nomad visa recipients to apply for local jobs. It is expected that persons who are granted a digital nomad visa will be remote workers or have the financial means to support themselves. To ensure that digital nomad applicants do not become a burden, most of the programs have an income threshold or require a certain amount of funds in the bank. Another requirement for most remote worker visa programs is that persons have a clean police record, travel insurance, and health insurance.

Barbados: View of the West Coast. Photo Credit: ©Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. View of the West Coast of Barbados. Photo Credit: © Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Caribbean Digital Nomad Visa Programs

Most Caribbean destinations have long since allowed the majority of their visitors (American, Canadian, and European) to stay for 30 to 90 days without a visa. Some like Jamaica allow for an extension of stay while on the island. However, this hasn’t been actively marketed to tourists who typically visit for 7 to 14 days and then return to their country of origin. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, travel has been disrupted, and destinations are looking for ways to improve the Caribbean tourism product, entice visitors and make up lost revenue. One idea that has taken off is digital nomad programs targeted at remote workers from key source markets including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Barbados was first out the gate launching their Barbados Welcome Stamp in July 2020. Already, the program has attracted about 2,000 applicants, with 1,200 coming from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. At US$2,000 per applicant, that’s US$4 million in revenue for the government of Barbados. Then you factor in housing, utilities, transportation, food, etc., from the 2,000 applicants now digital nomads living in Barbados for 12 months with the opportunity to extend, this is a much more sustainable and profitable revenue stream than regular tourists who typically spends less than the digital nomad application fee on vacation. Thus it is no surprise that there are now five Caribbean destinations where you can work remotely for at least one year. More digital nomad visa programs are sure to launch in the coming months.

The five Caribbean countries with digital nomad visa programs looking to attract remote workers who can stay for at least one year include Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands. All the digital nomad visa programs in the Caribbean allow you to apply online and provide a response with 14 business days after submitting all the necessary documents.

UPB in room 314 at Zoetry Montego Bay in Jamaica. UPB remote working from the Zoetry Montego Bay in Jamaica.

Work From Anguilla

Application Fee: US$2,000 for individuals and US$3,000 for families (main applicants plus three dependents) plus US$250 for each additional family member.
Decision: within 14 business days of receiving a complete application.
Visa Length: 91 days to 12 months.
Requirements:
Persons wishing to work remotely in Anguilla will need to complete the one Work From Anguilla application online and submit the following documents:

  • proof of employment or Business Incorporation Certificate
  • proof of visas (where applicable)
  • police record with a validity of not more than six (6) months for all applicants 18 years and older
  • proof of relationship to dependents
  • copy of birth certificate for self, partner, and dependents
  • copy of passport picture page

Antigua Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) Visa

Application Fee: US$1,500 for individuals, US$2,000 for couples, and US$3,000 for families of three persons or over.
Decision: within 14 business days of receiving a complete application.
Visa Length: 24 months. The 2-year Antigua Nomad Digital Residence Visa is valid from the arrival date in Antigua and Barbuda and for two years after that.
Requirements:

  • job earning an income of at least US$50,000 and/or have the means to support self, spouse/partner, and dependents
  • clean criminal record
  • valid health insurance coverage

Persons wishing to work remotely in Antigua & Barbuda will need to complete the online Antigua Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) Visa application and submit the following documents

  • full-color passport size photo for each applicant and any dependent(s)
  • full-color scan of the passport photo page
  • full-color copy of spouse and dependent(s) passport bio-page. Passports must be valid for more than the (2) years
  • birth certificate of the applicant, spouse, and any dependent(s)
  • marriage certificate
  • certificate of medical insurance coverage of applicant and dependent(s) for the period of intended stay in Antigua and Barbuda
  • police clearance for each applicant and dependents over the age of 16
  • notarized letter of relationship (if not married) for partner or proof of guardianship of dependent, of whom the application is made, by the main applicant
  • proof of employment, including self-employment
  • proof of funds by the principal applicant only, certifying
    o (a) Expected income of no less than US$50,000 for each year of the two years in Antigua and Barbuda
    o (b) That he or she has the means to support himself or herself and any accompanying dependent(s) during the (2) two years of stay in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua & Barbuda: A view of UNESCO World Heritage Nelson's Dockyard National Park. A view of UNESCO World Heritage Nelson’s Dockyard National Park in Antigua & Barbuda.

Barbados Welcome Stamp

Application Fee: US$2,000 (BDS$4,000) for individuals and US$3,000 (BDS$6,000) for families.
Decision: within 48 hours of receiving a complete application.
Visa Length: One year. The 12-month Welcome Stamp is issued on arrival into Barbados and is valid from that date for 12 months.
Requirements:

  • job earning an income of at least US$50,000 and/or have the means to support self, spouse/partner, and dependents
  • valid health insurance coverage

Persons wishing to work or study remotely in Barbados will need to complete the online Barbados Welcome Stamp application and submit the following documents

  • two passport-sized photographs
  • biodata page of the passport
  • copy of birth certificate for self, partner, and dependents
  • proof of relationship of dependents
  • entry visa (where applicable)

Barbados: Palazzate, a 75,000 sq ft luxury beachfront mansion. View of Palazzate, a 75,000 sq ft luxury beachfront mansion in Barbados.  Photo Credit: © Palazzate.

Work From Bermuda Certificate

Application Fee: US$263
Decision: within five business days of receiving a complete application
Visa Length: 12-months and renewable on a case-by-case basis. The 12-month time period begins on the date the Work From Bermuda Certificate is issued.
Requirements:

  • be at least 18 years old and pay the application fee
  • not have been convicted of a crime in Bermuda or elsewhere
  • possess valid health insurance coverage
  • demonstrate employment with a legitimate company or your own company registered and operating outside of Bermuda, in the case of a remote worker
  • provide evidence of enrollment in a research, undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate program, in the case of a student
  • have substantial means and/or have a continuous source of annual income

Persons wishing to work or study remotely in Bermuda will need to complete the online Work From Bermuda Certificate application and submit the following documents

  • proof of employment or evidence of school enrolment
  • color scan of the passport photo page
  • color scan of visa information

Bermuda - Aerial View. Photo Credit: ©Bermuda Tourism Authority. Aerial View of Bermuda. Photo Credit: © Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Cayman Islands Global Citizen Concierge Program

Application Fee: US$1,469 per annum for a party of 2 persons plus US$500 per dependent, per annum
Decision: within 14 business days of receiving a complete application
Visa Length: 24 months. The 2-year Cayman Islands Global Citizen Concierge Program visa is valid from the date of arrival in the Cayman Islands and for two years after that. The 2-year period must start within 12 months of approval, and if the applicant loses their job, then the visa will become invalid.
Requirements:

  •  job earning an income of at least US$100,000 annually, if applying as an individual or US$150,000 annually if applying with an accompanying spouse/civil partner or US$180,000 annually, if applying with an accompanying spouse/civil partner and/or dependent(s)
  • clean criminal record
  • valid health insurance coverage

Persons wishing to work remotely in the Cayman Islands will need to complete the online application for the Cayman Islands Global Citizen Concierge Program and submit the following documents

  • job letter showing proof of employment with an entity outside of the Cayman Islands
  • notarized bank reference with six months of bank statements
  • proof of identity including birth certificates for self, partner, and dependents
  • evidence of marital status/civil partnership
  • police clearance for self, partner, and dependents over 18 years of age
  • valid passports
  • proof of health insurance

Cayman Islands - Dart Real Estate: Seafire Northsound Sunrise. Seafire Northsound Sunrise in the Cayman Islands.  Photo Credit: © Dart Real Estate.

Interestingly, of the five Caribbean countries that have launched digital nomad visa programs, Antigua & Barbuda is the only one with a Citizenship By Investment Program. So it will be interesting to see how things develop with their Antigua Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) Visa. With more people recognizing the value of a second passport, I wouldn’t be surprised if some remote workers went on to invest and secure an Antigua & Barbuda passport.

Either way, with the economic benefits, more remote worker programs will no doubt get launched in the Caribbean. Most countries within the region have successfully contained COVID-19, and the warm weather along, decent WIFI along with reasonable cost of living will make the region quite attractive to remote workers. At first glance, the offerings are currently quite similar, so each will have to invest more in marketing to differentiate and highlight their unique selling proposition (USP). Right now, beyond the application fee and the visa length, it is not exactly clear how the programs are different. Or better yet, the experience that remote workers will have once they arrive. This is all needed for the programs to be truly sustainable.

Finally, it should be noted that beyond the above five Caribbean destinations with digital nomad visa programs, others are now actively promoting their regular stay to remote workers. One example is Aruba with their One Happy Workation program targeted at Americans, with many hotels, villas, and condos offering special deals and discounted rates. No special remote work visa or paperwork is required, but American visitors can live and work in Aruba for up to 90 days.

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Welcome to Caribbean & Co. founded by Ursula Petula Barzey who enjoys traveling the Caribbean in search of the best cultural and food adventures, places to stay and live/work opportunities. Launched in 2014, Caribbean & Co. has won five travel media awards.

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