For every New Yorker that loves the Big Apple, there is another person that cannot stand it. If it was up to them, they would prefer to live in the countryside or near the beach, in a house that has a big backyard with plenty of room for barbecues or garden parties, and where they could wake up to the sound of birds in the morning.

People who signed an employment contract live in New York City. They make Power Point presentations for investment banks, review student applications at local universities, or work for any of the thousands of other companies that have set up shop within the city’s borders, and demand that their employees do the same. It is a dilemma that many workers in the world can relate to.

It used to be that if you wanted to work there, you had to live within driving distance of your workplace. More and more employers are opening up to the idea of remote work thanks to the COVID Pandemic. Employees can work from anywhere in the world if they choose to work from home. All those unhappy New Yorkers could theoretically trade their cramped apartments for a spacious Caribbean condo and still show up to work on time.

Digital nomad visas, explained

Is it sound appealing? All you have to do is ask for permission from your employer and fill out an application. bosses and migration offices make it possible for people to work abroad. Many businesses wanted their employees to come back to work as soon as possible. Without direct oversight, they feared that productivity would plummet. Numerous studies have since dispelled that fear, prompting major firms to allow and encourage remote work even after COVID restrictions are lifted.

Digital nomad visas are programs that are often referred to as government programs. A digital nomad visa is an immigration document that allows a person to stay in a country for a long time. Employees can apply for digital nomad visas if they want a change of scenery. Digital nomad visas give employees time to fully immerse themselves in their new surroundings without having to put their careers in jeopardy.

A map of countries offering digital nomad visa programs. (Credit: InsomnioKun / Wikipedia)

Every country has a different entry requirements. Digital nomad visa applications will typically ask for proof of income and remote employment. The measures help ensure that employees can support themselves during their stay without having to compete for local jobs once they leave. In a moment, I will tell you more on that. Digital nomads have to get travel insurance. Most applications cost $1,000 and allow for stays between 6 months and 2 years, with the possibility of extending one’s visa once time is up.

The unexpected benefits of nomad visas

The idea of nomad visas is welcomed by a lot of people. There are ways in which immigration programs benefit the global economy identified by journalists, psychologists, and economists. It is easier for workers to move between different parts of the world when they have nomad visas. In places with strict immigration policies such as Japan, employees and their family members often have to wait years before being granted work or residence permits.

Critics of nomad visa programs fear that foreign workers may snatch up local jobs, but an article in Harvard Business Review disputes this claim. Digital nomads invest their time and money in the local economy without taking local jobs, and build bridges with local knowledge workers, according to an article.

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The Harvard Business School professor who wrote the article spent years studying the potential of digital nomad visa programs, which he believes could act as catalysts for knowledge and resource flows between different regions of the world. It has been shown in my research that short-term travel and even short periods of co-location with geographically distant colleagues can help workers access information and resources that can help grow new ideas and projects, which benefits both the mobile worker and their organizations.

How working abroad affects your mental health

The impact that working in a foreign country could have on your mental health is the only downside to the digital nomad visa programs. Employees who travel two weeks or more per month for work are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than employees who stay at home, according to a Columbia University study. Unhealthy eating and drinking, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation are some of the problems we encounter when we are on the go.

digital nomads
Working abroad is an enriching, but at times anxiety-inducing, experience. (Credit: Martin Klausen / Wikipedia)

It’s not clear whether these conditions also apply to digital nomads. There is anecdotal evidence that paints a somewhat alarming picture. Carolin Mller admits that the experience of working abroad is not always a positive one. Outside of your comfort zone and surrounded by fresh stimuli it can be difficult to stay on top of work and get rest.

The line between freedom and loneliness can be thin and sometimes employees end up with the latter. The risk is worth it. Anthony Bourdain once said, as the late chef, television host, and original digital nomad, “As the late chef, television host, and original digital nomad.”

It isn’t always pretty. It can be difficult to be comfortable. It can even break your heart. That’s okay. The journey changes you. It leaves marks on your body, on your consciousness, and on your mind. You bring something with you. You leave something good behind.