Caribbean Beat Magazine

Telecommuting island-style | The Deal

A handful of Caribbean countries have made it easy for international professionals to work remotely from balmy tropical climes. Natalie Dookie gives the details

  • Photo by Ariel Pilotto, courtesy Unsplash
  • English Harbour, Antigua. Photo courtesy Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

As much as forty per cent of the workforce in developed markets are working from home as a result of precautions taken due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even when economies open back up, surveys suggest the majority of these employees want to continue working remotely. These statistics are what several Caribbean countries are banking on: the prospect of longer-term visitors to kick-start their economies. Here’s a handy guide to your Caribbean telecommuting options.

Barbados was first off the starting block in the Caribbean, when it announced its offer last July of a twelve-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, catering to a new category of tourist — the digital nomad. “We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation,” said Prime Minister Mia Mottley. “Our new visa allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations. Our friendly people, professional services, commitment to education, and, most importantly, safety and security, all make Barbados an ideal place to work and live.”

The new visa allows non-nationals employed by a company or individual registered and operating outside of Barbados to work remotely from the island. The application fees are US$2,000 for individuals and US$3,000 for family bundles. Requirements include an income declaration certifying that the applicant expects to earn US$50,000 or more over the next twelve months, or has the means to support self and dependents during the stay, and proof of medical insurance. Margaret Inniss, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Barbados, explains: “This visa is processed within five working days and is valid for a maximum of twelve months from the date of arrival in Barbados.” Visa holders are not liable for payment of Barbados income tax.

Barbados, an international air and sea hub, offers ease of access, high-speed internet, fast and reliable telecommunications, a high standard of living, and good healthcare and education options in a safe, secure environment. COVID-wise, the country is currently classified as low risk, as there has been no community spread.

For those contemplating a longer-term corporate move, Kaye-Anne Brathwaite, CEO of Invest Barbados, advises: “The Barbados investment climate is welcoming. We are home to an expanding roster of more than four thousand transnational companies. The government, through Invest Barbados, is keen to encourage development of the renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, medical tourism, and global asset management industries.” Thus far, Barbados has approved one thousand Barbados Welcome applications. You can submit yours at www.barbadoswelcomestamp.bb.

In August, the Bahamas announced its Extended Stay Visa Programme, which will allow persons to work or study from the country for a year. The initiative will be marketed to small firms who want to shift operations temporarily, technology and other businesses who expect remote working to continue for some time, and university students. Visitors must be employed and paid by an overseas company, as they will not be allowed to work locally. Applicants will also have to demonstrate financial means to support themselves. Details of the programme were still being finalised at press time.

In Bermuda, the new Work From Bermuda Certificateoffers travellers the opportunity to relocate there for up to a year. The programme targets CEOs, professionals, digital nomads, and students. In addition to a fee of US$263 per person, applicants must also possess valid health insurance coverage, demonstrate employment with a legitimate company or their own company registered and operating outside of Bermuda, or be enrolled in a remote research, undergraduate, or postgraduate programme. They must also possess substantial means and/or have a continuous source of annual income. While there, applicants are not allowed to seek work locally.

According to Tiffani Cailor Torrence, Director of Public Relations and Content Development at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the certificate “has a lower price point than other destinations offering remote work options, and our proximity to US east coast business centres makes this an accessible and affordable option for applicants.” In August, the United States Centres for Disease Control improved the island’s COVID-19 risk ranking to Level 2 — “moderate” — and recently Bermuda earned the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Safe Travels” Stamp, which allows travellers to recognise governments and companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols. To apply, go to www.gotobermuda.com/workfrombermuda.

Anguilla’s Bask in the Sun visa targets families, digital nomads, individuals, and groups who wish to spend three months to a year on the island. The fee is US$2,000 per person (for families, US$3,000 for up to four persons), which covers two tests per person, health surveillance, and a digital work permit. There is also an option for up to three months. Currently, Anguilla is prioritising “longer-stay travellers” and persons from “low-risk” countries, states, or cities where the prevalence of COVID-19 is less than 0.2 per cent of the population. As of September, with Anguilla reporting a total of three cases, the CDC deemed it a “very low” COVID-19 risk. Apply at ivisitanguilla.com/escape.

Aruba’s new One Happy Workation programme targets US nationals with valid passports who wish to live and work for up to three months on the island. Visitors must be employed by a company or be self-employed in their home country, are not allowed to receive income locally, do not pay local taxes, and cannot perform work that is illegal in Aruba. In fact, working is not mandatory, so you can spend your stay as you like. Visitors are, however, required to purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance, which covers COVID-19 related costs incurred during their stay. Find the programme details at www.aruba.com/us/one-happy-workation.

In September, the Commonwealth of Dominica announced it would be launching an Entrepreneur Visa in the coming months. This visa gives foreigners a two-year residency permit, in exchange for investment in the country, after which they can then become naturalised. Applicants have three options: invest a minimum of US$50,000 in an existing government-approved company through the Investment Fund; invest a minimum of US$100,000 in a new start-up business locally registered, employing at least three full-time employees; or invest in a government-approved public sector or private sector venture as an equity investor. Key requirements are: a minimum deposit of US$100,000 in a local financial institution, wherein the funds may be used from Dominica during the residency period, and a minimum of three months in-country stay in a year. Details are still being rolled out.

In late September, Antigua and Barbuda became the latest Caribbean country to offer a long-stay visa: the Nomad Digital Residence programme, which offers remote work permits for up to two years. It is intended for non-nationals who are employed or self-employed in a country other than Antigua and Barbuda, and who are resident and employed by a company registered and operating outside of the country. The visa holder is not allowed to work locally, therefore no personal income tax is payable. Applicants must earn at least US$50,000 per year and provide proof of employment and medical insurance for the period of the stay. The fees are: singles, US$1,500; couples, US$2,000; and US$3,000 for a family of three or over. Find out more at antiguanomadresidence.com.

Although Jamaica has no formal remote work programme, and while most travellers are given a thirty-day visa when they arrive, digital nomads can apply for a longer six-month stay. Residents of the United States, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico are required to obtain COVID-19 tests as part of their travel authorisation approval process. Check out Jamaica’s travel requirements at www.visitjamaica.com/travelauthorization.