Portugal is the latest to offer a digital nomad visa to remote workers

Portugal is the latest country to officially position itself as a refuge for “digital nomads”, as it presents a new visa for remote workers who will be available on October 30.

With its relatively low cost of living, temperate climate and proximity to other European destinations, Portugal has grown in popularity as a destination not only for travel, but also for longer-term moves, including retirement. Around 9.6 million international tourists visited Portugal in 2021, according to government estimates – a 48% increase from 2020, but still down sharply from 2019.

Despite the pandemic’s impact on tourism, it has sparked widespread remote working, which Portugal now appears to be trying to take advantage of. In July, as the country contemplated such a policy, the Portuguese Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes, declared: “Portugal is a country of immigration which needs immigrants, which needs and benefits from the contribution of immigrants to its demography, its economy, its culture.

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The Digital Nomad Visa and Residence Permit will be available to those employed outside Portugal who are able to provide an employment contract, tax residency documents and proof of an average monthly income over the past three month equivalent to at least four times the minimum wage in Portugal, or about $2,730. For salaried workers, an annual salary of about $32,760 would suffice. That’s just under half the average annual salary of U.S. remote workers, according to job search site ZipRecruiter.

For freelancers or other self-employed individuals, proof of the same level of income will be required through service contracts or other means of proof of services. (European Union nationals and citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Andorra and Switzerland already have certain rights of residence in Portugal.)

Portugal has another comparable visa that allows residency with relatively lax income requirements, but this one is for retirees and has a passive income requirement. Portugal has become popular as a means of obtaining permanent residence within the EU, with its “golden visa” offering a route to long-term residency for people who invest a minimum amount in the country. It’s not immediately clear if the Digital Nomad Visa offers a similar path.

Portugal’s digital nomad visa comes as US companies are once again pushing back office workers. But workers in many cities have resisted returning to work, with downtown activity in many major cities such as San Francisco, Washington and New York in June well below pre-pandemic levels, according to a study from the University of California at Berkeley. .

Meanwhile, many tech companies have remained completely isolated. Twitter, Airbnb and Salesforce have enabled many employees to work full-time remotely. Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong said last year that the cryptocurrency firm had become a “decentralized, head office-less business” with its remote priority policy helping it “attract top talent.” .

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These tech workers — along with countless other remote and freelance workers — can take advantage of remote work programs around the world that have grown during the pandemic. A remote work report released in June by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said more than 25 countries have created digital nomad initiatives since 2019, when Estonia became the first country to have such a visa.

One of the latest is Malaysia, which has launched a program to make it the “preferred digital nomad hub” in Southeast Asia. A government website promoting the “DE Rantau” scheme touts Malaysia as “Your next digital nomad destination”.