Caribbean nation launches new visa program for remote workers from Canada
Once upon a time, before the term "remote work" conjured up images of harried workers hunched over laptops at their kitchen tables in sweatpants, the idea of being a digital nomad was something of a fantasy for many people.
We imagined where we'd go if somehow we could do our jobs from anywhere. How, untethered by a physical office, we could move to a tropical paradise and answer emails from the beach.
The reality is that most Canadians can't simply pack up their lounge chairs, buy condos in Jamaica and carry on with their current employers.
First of all, it's really expensive. Secondly, as many have realized, our jobs aren't the only things keeping us rooted here in Toronto (though, to be fair, many have been leaving the city lately for smaller towns.)
But the key thing that most people don't really consider when envisioning a "digital nomad" lifestyle is that you can't legally conduct business in most other countries without a proper work visa.
There are tons of potential legal implications, whether you work for a Canadian employer or (perhaps especially) for a company in the destination you choose; think taxes, immigration, employment standards, banking, work contracts and access to benefits.
The process of securing a work permit can get messy to the point where people sometimes hire lawyers to work it all out.
Thing have changed, however, since the pandemic hit: Governments in sunny lands have been rolling out special extended visa programs specifically to attract remote workers. By doing all of the legal legwork for people thinking of working abroad, they're making the decision to come and spend money there easier.
Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean flush with astounding natural features (think volcanically heated, steam-covered lakes, mountain ranges and tropical rainforests), is the latest destination to jump on this trend, and officials are targeting Canadians specifically.
"If you are seeking to rejuvenate and refuel your passions, all while still working, look no further than Dominica," reads a release announcing the launch of the commonwealth's new extended-stay visa programme, dubbed "Work In Nature."
People approved for the visa can legally work remotely for up to 18 months on the island, which is located in the Caribbean Sea and most definitely not to be confused with the Dominican Republic.
"Visit waterfalls or hot springs, take nature walks or exhilarating dives, experience the local cuisine, embrace a new culture, and make new friends," reads the release. "Additionally, Dominica's COVID-19 protocols have kept the infection rates very low, and their handling of the pandemic has been exemplary.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica highlights high-speed internet and technology services, modern health-care facilities, educational options and opportunities for "impact volunteer programs" among reasons for Canadians to make the jump.
Sounds like a dream, right? Right — but it does cost money to secure a visa and not everyone will be accepted. Even the application process costs about $125, while the visa itself starts at about $1,000 for individuals ($1,500 for families.)
Applicants must further be over 18, have no criminal record and an income of at least about $65,000 per year (or otherwise "have the means to support themselves" during their stay in Dominica.)
The good news is that responses to all applications are provided within seven days and that those who get into the program have three months after that to relocate.
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