By Salman Siddiqui
The global pandemic has led to an increase in digital transformation as well as a plenitude of digital nomad programs worldwide and a competition among countries to attract foreign talent, a new study shows.
The 2021 Worldwide Immigration Trends report by Fragomen Knowledge Group points out that digital nomads have visa residency options in 23 countries, among them: the UAE, St. Lucia, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Panama, Montserrat, Mauritius, Malta, Iceland, Greece, Georgia, Estonia, Dominica, Curacao, Croatia, Costa Rica, Cayman Islands, Cape Verde, Bermuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Aruba, and Antigua and Barbuda.
Other countries where similar programs are soon expected to launch include Thailand, Slovakia, Romania, Panama, Indonesia, Grenada, Ecuador, Czech Republic, Colombia, Argentina and Albania, according to the report.
Turkish immigration lawyer Orhan Yavuz Mavioğlu, managing partner at Mavioglu & Alkan Law Office, said that digital transformation for CBI related processes in Turkey has improved remarkably during the pandemic.
"During the pandemic era, the government actually simplified processed, allowed more electronic and remote submissions,” he said. “Although travel was restricted, such measures had good impact and the immigration investments have not slowed down and on the contrary have increased.”
DIGITAL NOMAD APPLICANTS ON THE RISE
Antigua and Barbuda CBI agent Kaline Kennard, a founding partner at Citizens International, said the Caribbean nation expects the numbers of digital nomads to increase even further.
"I do think we will see more digital nomad visas in the regions however since the Caribbean is a very nice place to work remotely – probably one of the most beautiful in the world," Kennard said.
Panama investor visa representative Marcos Kraemer, managing partner of Kraemer & Kraemer, pointed out that Panama has high hopes for its digital nomad program.
"A new digital nomad was already created in 2021, although not effective enough for positive results, so we expect the government is able to improve the program," Kraemer said.
COUNTRIES ATTRACTING GLOBAL TALENT
The Fragomen report also pointed out a correlation between the brain drain of talented individuals from their countries of origin to nations that offer global talent programs during the ongoing pandemic.
While the pandemic was causing unemployment to increase, skilled workers were taking advantage of programs that offer them a chance of a new life in a new country, such as Australia's Global Talent Initiative, Canada's Global Talent Stream, the UK's Global Talent visa category and the UAE's golden visa programs.
Canadian immigration consultant Julien Tétrault, president of JTH Lawyers Inc., said Canada aims to attract global talent via its startup visa (SUV) program, which has been successful.
"We have seen a surge in applications under SUV program, and it's only the beginning as popularity continues to soar. And it's exciting to see the new options to get families in Canada while their PR application is processed," Tétrault said.
NEW CITIES TO CATER TO REMOTE WORKERS
The report predicted that more and more governments around the world will embrace incentives for the global remote workforce.
It cited the example of Portugal which launched a special hub for digital nomads on the Madeira Islands in November 2020 where more than 9,000 workers have already been registered. Similarly, China is creating an economic zone called the Greater Bay Area that will link Hong Kong and Macau with southern Chinese cities; and Saudi Arabia is building an entire city set to be completed in 2025 that will serve as an innovation hub connecting the kingdom with Israel and Jordan.
It also predicted that more countries like New Zealand and Finland will offer global talent the self-sponsorship route to residency, allowing them to reside in the country without first getting employment with a local company.
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