The idea of being a digital nomad gained serious traction in 2020. Not being tied to a desk or utility bills; being your own boss; or simply getting more stamps on your passport—everyone’s got their reasons to love travelling and working side by side. Indians, though, tend to not look beyond the national border while doing this.
Is it ‘cause we’re apprehensive, or because visa research is too annoying?
Whatever the reason, we’re here to save the day! This is our handpicked guide to remote work havens that Indians can visit right now—featuring only those countries that allow hassle-free access to freelancers, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons during COVID-19.
Picked your dream destination? Make your booking here:Book Flights
Destinations with direct flights
Indians can fly on direct, long-haul flights to three exciting places under our current air bubble arrangements. We’ve done the dirty work when it comes to compiling visa information, but go through all quarantine protocols before booking tickets, okay?
Where: United Arab Emirates
USP: Nightlife, shopping, Bedouin culture, desert sports
Type of visa: One-year virtual working programme. Allows remote workers and their families to stay in Dubai while working for companies abroad. Access to bank accounts, local number, internet and school enrolment for kids is provided upon approval. The minimum threshold? Earning $5000 per month. More details: visitdubai.com
Where: Western Europe
USP: Old world architecture in modern cities, charming countryside with links to the Alps and the Black Forest, excellent transport, beer heaven
Type of visa: Three-month freiberufler (freelancer) visa. Self-employment in healthcare, law, tax and business counselling, scientific/technical work or linguistic/information-transmitting work is counted as freelancing for this visa. See the rules on germany-visa.org/freelance-visa
See Also | COVID-19 flight policies in India and abroad
Where: US island state in the Pacific Ocean
USP: Volcanic landscape, stunning beaches, surfer’s delight, honeymoon getaway
Type of visa: Movers & Shakas programme, with flexible duration. Remote workers can engage with nonprofits to help the local economy. In return, Hawaii provides deals on airfare, hotels and dining. The deadline for the first batch was December 15, so keep an eye on moversandshakas.org for the next alert!
Travel using connecting flights
An update to India’s air bubble rules has allowed flyers to visit 100+ new countries using connecting flights. The layovers may be long, but the newfound freedom is absolutely worth it.
Here are all the destinations in Europe and Africa where you can live and work in using remote work visas right now:
Where: Island off the coast of East Africa
USP: Rainforests, unique tropical wildlife, coral reefs, rainbow earth at Chamarel
Type of visa: Premium Travel Visa, renewable and valid for one year. Indians must provide proof of sufficient income and their business overseas, and documented plans for a long-term stay. Travel and health insurance is also required. Have more questions? See edbmauritius.org/premium-visa
Where: Northern Europe
USP: Gorgeous churches and manors, hiking trails, birding and nature reserves, ancient Nordic culture, free wi-fi EVERYWHERE!
Type of visa: Digital Nomad Visa, allowing stay and work up to a year. Proof of income ($4,130 per month for six months before applying) is mandatory, and you have to be: employed by a company abroad, or self-employed with a business abroad, or freelance with clients abroad. Asymptomatic Indians arriving for work or studies in Estonia can apply. See e-resident.gov.ee/nomadvisa
Where: Central Europe
USP: Highest castle density in Europe (and home to some of the oldest), spa and brewery culture, picturesque cities, Bohemia historic region
Type of visa: Long-stay business visa permitting visits longer than 90 days. Also called a zivno visa, it’s targeted at freelancers and remote workers. More details: eoiprague.gov.in/page/visa
Where: Southwestern Europe
USP: Cosmopolitan cities, sunny beaches, access to Gibraltar, iconic UNESCO sites, amazing seafood and tapas, lively folk culture
Type of visa: Self-employment work visa, valid up to a year. This is a form of Spain’s broader residence visa, and applications must be submitted at the Spanish consular office that oversees your place of residence in India. Know more on exteriores.gob.es
Where: Southern Europe
USP: Wine lodges, postcard-like coastal cities, medieval monuments, surfing, beaches
Type of visa: Temporary stay or residency visa, depending on the length of stay. You have to register as a freelancer, and demonstration of your skills is needed in Portugal. Not the simplest of applications, but the determined can know more on vistos.mne.gov.pt/en/national-visas/general-information
Keep your eyes peeled!
This isn’t the full list of places offering remote work visas—North America has plenty of options too, in the form of Mexico, Barbados, Bermuda, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Cayman Islands. Georgia and Iceland have also promoted their remote work visa programmes. South America has Aruba’s ‘One Happy Workation’ initiative.
Can you apply to these places too right now? The short answer: no.
The long answer: India’s air bubble in North America only covers the USA at the moment, so you can’t apply to the remaining countries. We also don’t meet the remote work visa requirements for Georgia, Iceland, and Aruba yet. But we’ll definitely let you know in case things change.
Until then, start your bookings and have a happy journey!