Southeast Asian Nations Roll Out Digital Nomad Visa Schemes

Southeast Asian Nations Roll Out Digital Nomad Visa Schemes

by October 28, 2022

Malaysia has become the latest nation in Southeast Asia to roll out a digital nomad visa scheme, a move that’s intended to turn the country into a major remote work hub in the region and boost digital adoption domestically.

Supported by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), a government agency aimed at promoting the country’s digital economy, the DE Rantau program will provide digital marketers and developers, content creators, and IT professionals from all over the world with the permission to live, travel and work in Malaysia for up to 12 months.

The visa will be available to those earning over US$24,000 per year and applicants will need to provide proof of employment, such as an active contract or multiple contracts of at least three months with local or foreign clientele. The processing fee will be MYR 1,000 (US$220) and dependents such as spouses and children will be able to be added to the application at a yearly cost of MYR 500 (US$110) per person.

Recipients will receive exclusive offers and benefits likes nomad-ready living and working hubs, handpicked local services, discount vouchers and promotions.

Bali Digital Nomad Visa

Applications will open on October 01, 2022. The visa will be renewable up to another 12 month.

Malaysia is latest country in Southeast Asia to announce a visa program targeted at remote workers and digital nomads. Earlier this month, the Indonesian government announced that remote workers will be allowed to conduct online work for up to six months without paying tax by using the existing B211A visa.

Applicants will need to provide a proof of funds of at least US$2,000 or equivalent to support the cost of living, and must be vaccinated against COVID-19. They are also required to pay a fee ranging from IDR 1.5 million (US$100) to IDR 6 million (US$400), depending on the type and duration of the visa.

Since January 2022, more than 3,000 foreigners have used the B211A visa to work as digital nomads, according to a ABC report.

Indonesia also has plans to introduce a longer-term digital nomad visa program. The planned scheme, which was unveiled last year, would allow remote workers to live in the country for up to five years tax-free, as long as their income derives from businesses based outside of Indonesia.

The visa would be designed to be a simpler solution for foreigners wanting to stay in Indonesia while maintaining their work, with a more streamlined application process. The visa would be among the longest digital nomad visas available in the world.

According to a Migration Policy Institute report, more than 25 countries around the world are offering visas tailored for digital nomads.

Popular visa schemes include Barbados’ Welcome Stamp visa, which allows holders to stay on the Caribbean island for up to twelve months without paying any local income tax, Croatia’s temporary residency permit, which has a relatively lower income requirement of EUR 2,232 gross per month or EUR 26,790 annually, and Bermuda’s Work From Bermuda visa, which doesn’t have a minimum income requirement and is open to post-secondary students.

Asia Behind in Digital Nomad Visa Trend

Jurisdictions in Asia, however, have been slow to embrace the trend but efforts have started to emerge in several countries over the past year. In August 2022, the Sri Lankan government approved a new five-year multiple entry tourist visa scheme, which many believe is directed at digital nomads who want to spend long periods in the country and come and go freely.

Though the modalities of the scheme are yet to be finalized, citizens from 35 countries would be eligible for the visa. Holders would be permitted to a stay a maximum of six months stay at one stretch.

These developments come on the back of a series of new visa schemes being introduced recently across the region to attract specific profiles of workers.

Earlier this month, Thailand rolled out a ten-year visa program designed to lure wealthy and highly-skilled foreign professionals over the next five years. Thailand hopes to attract one million foreigners and generate some THB 800 billion (US$21 billion) in new investments in the country.

Singapore recently announced the new Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass (ONE Pass), a new special work visa for top talent in business, arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and academia and research. Eligibility criteria include earning a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 (US$21,000), or its equivalent in foreign currency, within the last one year.


Featured image credit: edited from Unsplash