On Thursday the 17th of February 2022, IBN Immigration Solutions’ CEO Andreas Krensel took part in an XpathNexus online event – the ninth episode in the series. This episode’s theme centered around “Digital Nomads: Struggles and Success Stories”.
Xpath.global is a leading SaaS-enabled digital marketplace, focused on allowing for direct relationship between local and regional global mobility experts and offering specialised services to corporate clients around immigration, visa and relocation services.
This episode was hosted by Madalina Andrei, Partnerships Manager for Xpath.global. In her words, the XpathNexus series was created “to become the place where global mobility experts can share best practices around our industry, learn from one another and most importantly, grow together.”
Other guests on the panel included:
- Croatia – Jan de Jong, DNA Croatia
- Brazil – Julyana Ruiz, Founder, iGo Immigration
- Spain – Jordi Roca, Director, GD Global Mobility
In this article, we’ll reiterate the main points of the webinar and give you more insight into Digital Nomad visa requirements for Spain, Croatia and Brazil, as well as discuss the barriers South Africa may face in attempting to launch such a visa. Watch the full video for more information on individual country requirements and more.
Jan de Jong is a Dutch national who emigrated to Croatia 15 years ago and in his words, is “living the Croatian dream”. He is an entrepreneur, a husband and a father of four who pioneered the Digital Nomad Visa launch in his new country of residence. He went about this by writing an open letter to the Croatian Prime Minister, detailing the benefits this visa would bring to the island. He then met with the prime minister and went on to initiate and launch Croatia’s Digital Nomad project within six months, in participation with several Croatian government ministries. Croatia is the second European country and the seventh country worldwide to launch this visa type.
Our CEO, Andreas Krensel, was introduced next and clarified that he has put forward this visa type to the South African government some years ago but has not yet received a response on their planned launch. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his 2022 SONA that the launch of the Digital Nomad Visa is a priority for 2022.
Andreas and Team IBN continue to work hard to bring across the importance and benefits of this visa type for South Africa’s economy and job market to the attention of the government. Stay in the loop on updates around this by following IBN Immigration Solutions on our social pages.
Jordi Roca, Director of GD Global Mobility, a leading mobility company with over 350 employees, advises on corporate immigration in Spain with particular focus on taxation and social security within Spain’s immigration framework. He mentioned that Spain’s government has, fortunately, been very open to hearing from mobility experts during the launch and ongoing legislative development around their Digital Nomad Visa.
Julyana Ruiz is the founder of iGo Immigration in Brazil and has worked in the global mobility industry for over 12 years. iGo Immigration is a boutique firm that focuses on both taxation and immigration. At the time of this webinar, Brazil had gained approval for their Digital Nomad Visa just three weeks prior.
Madalina’s first question focused on Spain’s recent implementation, with mention that Spain has quickly become one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads in Europe. She went on to enquire what the main reasons were that caused officials to finally decide to implement this visa, and what the expected impact of this visa type will be once the process is finalised.
Jordi explained that over the years, Spain has seen successive governments attempt to implement legal measures to attract knowledge and talent, as well as encourage foreign investment. This decision was triggered in part by the pandemic but also by the fact that Spain is a natural choice as a remote-working destination due to its quality of life, lower cost of living compared to other EU states, and its geographical positioning.
Jordi expounded that the position of government ministries regarding immigration is favourable as it continues to work to attract foreign nationals looking to enter the job market, pass on knowledge and invest in the country. Spain sees this visa type as a great opportunity to increase its economic competitiveness and improve its current depopulation trajectory.
As Madalina mentioned next, the digital nomad launch is part of a larger law in Spain called the Start-up Act. Jordi confirmed this and clarified that the reasoning behind this law is to attract talent and investment in technological innovation and to ease requirements regarding taxation and financing regulations, hopefully clearing barriers to entry when the applicant goes through the initial visa administration processes.
Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa requirements allow anyone who holds a university degree or has been professionally active for three years to apply but the employer must be based overseas. If the employer is local, the applicant would need to comply with the requirements for a regular work permit.
Madalina went on to Julyana and asked whether Brazil launched their Digital Nomad Visa for similar reasons as Spain. Julyana’s response confirmed that yes, Brazil this visa type to attract talent from other countries in general but more importantly, this is a method of economic recovery for the country. The digital nomad will live in Brazil, consume goods, rent an apartment and partake in tourist activities. They’ll also enjoy the benefit of not being a fiscal resident for 180 days. As Julyana clarified, the visa has been approved very recently, so a law governing the fiscal aspect of this visa is not yet in place. This incentivises entrepreneurs and self-employed workers to enter Brazil, making the destination even more attractive.
Julyana then explained that this visa is popular with entrepreneurs interested in eventually investing in Brazil and seeing opportunities to first explore the dynamic of the country. Other clients include influencer marketers looking to document Brazil’s beauty and enjoy the landscape. While large companies are not always able to allow their employees to work remotely, she goes on to say that many have approached her, asking about this visa and how it could benefit their employees.
Madalina introduced South Africa’s slot by asking whether a Digital Nomad Visa would be a success here. Andreas confirmed that it would be a huge success as our positioning in the Southern Hemisphere would allow these nomads to escape winter, our living costs are low and the standard of living is high, at least if you have a good income. He then went on to say that another attraction is that Cape Town is a leading African city when it comes to start-ups and digitisation.
Andreas then clarified that while freelancers and remote workers are the main target market, in South Africa, this visa type would also apply to individuals working for overseas companies as IBN Immigration Solutions receives almost daily enquiries regarding the timeline for launching its own Digital Nomad Visa. The urgency here is high as many attractive countries have recently opened applications to digital nomads and this would be simple to implement in South Africa.
Madalina then asked Andreas to identify this visa’s client profile in South Africa, which he then connected to Spain and Brazil, as it would be similar. Young entrepreneurs, young workers with flexibility and even young families with children should qualify. The economic goal here is also similar to Brazil and Spain in that economic recovery, job creation and eventually, foreign direct investment would be the expected results of this visa launch.
Next up, Jan explained that Croatia’s main reason for exploring this visa type was brain drain and the hope here is that digital nomads entering the country would help to reverse this issue. Croatia’s Mediterranean climate (like Spain and Cape Town) make it an attractive destination as is, but the global pandemic caused a major drop in tourism, which affected the country’s GDP. Jan asked himself the question “What would turn Croatia into a year-round destination and did extensive research?” – the answer was obvious. Remote workers.
He then promoted this idea on LinkedIn and gained immense support from his followers, which led him to write the open letter mentioned earlier. The media picked up on the story and the ministry of the interior and state secretary contacted him to assist with the creation of Croatia’s Digital Nomad Visa Programme.
It is imperative that, while South Africa has not launched a Digital Nomad Visa just yet, we take our cue from countries who have done so and learn from their struggles and success stories.
Thank you to our partners at Xpath.global for allowing our CEO to participate in this session and to all the participants who made the discussion so enjoyable and interesting. Once our government makes this visa option available in the near future, we look forward to welcoming remote workers from all over the world to our colourful nation.