It’s safe to presume that sometime in the near future, we may be living in a world where most countries have a designated digital-nomad visa. That’s how noteworthy the digital-nomad movement has become in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be able to travel around while simultaneously earning a living via a laptop is, for many employees, akin to a dream-like scenario. But as we have pointed out in the past, all is not gravy in the world of digital nomadism. In other words, there are pitfalls as well. And one of the primary things to be on the lookout for is whether your desired destination is both willing and able to accommodate such a lifestyle.
In the past, governments could probably care less, in a manner of speaking, about a visitor with a laptop. But now the understanding that many of such people are coming in as remote workers who will benefit tourism and other industries within their country have changed the perspective, and many are making formal efforts to receive digital nomads. And below is a list of Asian countries that are known to have taken such initiatives.
Later down the line, we will take a comprehensive look at how every country in Asia currently stands when it comes to foreign-based digital nomadism. But in the meantime, the ones listed below are localities that are already known to be friendly to such professionals.
Dubai, a city found in the United Arab Emirates, is perhaps the trendiest travel destination in the world as we speak, due to its ridiculously-high level of modernity. The UAE does not have a designated digital-nomad visa at the moment. What they do have in place is a document called the Remote Working Visa, which is valid for a solid year and demands a healthy minimum income of $5,000 monthly.
Honestly speaking, many digital nomads may not earn that type of money, besides having to pay for hotels and what have you. So with that in mind, it is good to know that Dubai itself has what is called its “Work Remotely from Dubai” program. This document also allows its holder to stay within that exquisite city for a year, but the monthly income requirement is significantly lower, at $3,500. So if it’s Dubai in particular that you, as a digital nomad, want to visit, this would be a shrewder option than obtaining the Remote Working Visa in general.
India, due to its enormous size and exoticness, is another compelling travel destination. But as it currently stands, digital nomads have to follow the established visa route in order to gain official access to the country.
However, there is a distinct part of India known as Goa, which is actually famous for being a picturesque tourism hotspot in this part of the world. And the government in that particular locality has taken digital nomadism seriously, including publicly stating its intent to launch a related visa in the near future. So this looks like the best part of the country to receive digital nomads such as ourselves.
Indonesia is one of the countries that started taking digital nomadism more seriously during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when world travel was at an all-time low. The country of Indonesia, by the way, is a large island country found in Southeast Asia. The nation has had issues with poverty, which, though improving will be noticeable to outsiders. But in particular, Bali, one of its provinces, is known to have a very robust digital-nomad community.
That said, even though the Indonesian government has formally expressed plans to introduce an associated visa, that initiative has yet to pass. But when it does take effect, as planned, it will be one of the most-exceptional digital-nomad visas in the world, as holders will be able to stay for five years and concurrently not pay any taxes if your work is indeed based outside of Indonesia.
Until then, many of its digital nomads are using the B211A, otherwise known as the Indonesia Tourist Visa, which is valid for 60 days and 180 days in total. So hopefully, the government will expedite the launch of its digital-nomad visa to rightfully accommodate those of us who want to stay longer.
Malaysia is a budding economic superpower which formally recognizes the value of “high-quality human capital.” Accordingly, Malaysians also appreciate what digital nomads and IT workers in general bring to the table as far as developing the nation is concerned. After all, they are the northern neighbors of Singapore, a country that went first-world in a single generation due in large part to the seriousness with which it takes information technology.
So Malaysia has also been ahead of the curve in instituting a digital-nomad visa, which in this case is also known as the DE (Digital Economy) Rantau Nomad Pass and appears to be the only one specifically designated for us in the entirety of Asia. Obtaining this document will grant you official access to Malaysia for up to a year. The caveat, if you will, is that you have to prove a yearly income of $24,000. Broken down, that comes out to just $2,000 per month, which is a lot less than what most other countries require from us. But due to the nature of this line of work, many digital nomads may find providing such documentation difficult.
As can be gleaned by the terseness of the above list, most Asian countries, including technological powerhouses like Japan and Singapore, have yet to introduce a digital nomad visa. Current travel trends would imply that all Asian governments would be compelled to formally address the digital-nomad community sooner rather than later. And as stated earlier, Greetings from Abroad will keep you informed of how all nations fare in that regard. But in the meantime, if you, as a digital nomad, do have a desire to visit or reside in Asia, the above-listed countries would be a good place to start.