As many employers and workers deal with lockdowns and working restrictions, working remotely is now expected in many businesses. What was once a perk that only a lucky few got to experience is now commonplace across many industries. So how does working remotely coincide with a working visa? Most working visas require in-person attendance but since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more countries are starting to utilise Digital Nomad Visas. They bring cashed-up travellers into the country while they work remotely into another country and can avoid needing to go through other complex visa paths.
These types of remote work visas raise up several important questions. Questions about tax and social security benefits, what happens when renewing visas if the employer changes the working agreement, and what is the process for new visas?
Australia has not yet implemented any kind of remote working visa. However, there is a growing list of over 40 countries that have setup various types of Digital Nomad Visas with the long term goal of getting migrants into Permanent Residency in the destination country eventually. Just some of the Digital Nomad visa countries include Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Mexico, Bazil, Spain, Barbados, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Digital Nomad Visas have different requirements compared to other working visas. You might need to have substantial savings or be able to show that your current salary exceeds certain thresholds, be self employed or work for a business operating in another country (if no money is made in the destination country you might be able to avoid paying tax), and you might need to show proof of accommodation and up-to-date health insurance cover. Other benefits sometimes include no age limit criteria and the possibility of bringing in partners or family members in on the visa.
In an interesting development for Australians looking to live overseas and work remotely, Indonesia is set to announce its very own Digital Nomad Visa very soon. It is rumoured to be a 5 year visa with no taxation at all. This is driven by the need to boost their struggling tourism sector. And while Indonesia ponders its next move Thailand is looking to implement a 4 year Smart Visa to help its tourism industry and become the first Asian country with a dedicated Digital Nomad Visa.
What about Digital Nomad Visas in Australia?
Australia would be a great destination to work remotely from on a visa. To see this happen, the Australia Government would need to set up policies for remote (digital) workers in line with economic goals and skilled worker needs. Clear rules need to be in place for employers to better understand how the visa would work and their obligations – especially in the areas of tax, benefits and how changes in business policies affect visa statuses. It might be worth looking into regional remote working visas where the migrant is in Australia but living in a remote location. Plus there needs to be a clear pathway to permanent residency for the right applicants.
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