What countries are luring expats with new visas?

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Published 2020-07-21 09:00

While many countries are playing it safe regarding their border closures, others are currently introducing new visas to attract visitors and expats, skilled professionals in particular. The United Kingdom has just announced a new visa for healthcare professionals from August 2020. Canada is also coming up with a new bill along the same lines.

The UK wants to attract more foreign professionals and students

With the new Health and Care Visa, the British government is looking to improve its healthcare system. This visa mainly aims at attracting the best health professionals from around the world and allowing them to join the National Health Service (NHS) network rapidly, including in social healthcare. Fees applicable to this new visa are lower compared to Tier 3 visas intended for highly qualified professionals. Also, applicants are exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. The government points out that Health and Care Visa applications will be processed within 3 weeks following receipt of biometric data from applicants. Those who are not eligible can still request the refund of the Immigration Health Surcharge provided that payment has been made by March 31st, 2020. The UK government has granted an additional fund of £ 1.5 billion to the healthcare sector to address the labour shortage.

The UK immigration and visa policy are also subject to changes that will take effect at the end of the Brexit transition period, that is, from January 1st, 2021. This point system applies to healthcare workers, skilled workers, young graduates as well as international students coming from the European Union and third countries. To qualify and benefit from the same rights as Britons, foreign professionals must obtain at least 50 points after securing a job offer that is on the eligible professions list. Qualified professionals should have level RQF3 or higher skills, have a good command of English and earn a salary of at least £ 25,600. However, there are exceptions for those earning less but more than £ 20,480.

Besides, the Global Talent Scheme will be accessible to nationals of the EU, the European Economic Area, the Swiss, as well as highly qualified scientists and researchers even if they haven't secured a job yet. A new pathway will also be available to students graduating in the UK from summer 2021. They will be authorised to work in the UK or to look for a job for 2 years or 3 if they have a PhD.

Canada: strengthening the health sector

Although Canada is not likely to reach its target of welcoming more than 340,000 expatriates this year – owing the sharp drop in immigration rate to the COVID-19 crisis – the country still has wants to attract more foreign professionals. The Canadian government is looking to grant permanent residence to asylum seekers who are currently working in the health sector. This bill will soon be brought to parliament as a sign of recognition for the contribution of asylum seekers to the fight against the pandemic and to the Canadian economy.

The world's first digital nomad visa

With the evolution of technology, digital nomadism is becoming increasingly popular around the world. The COVID-19 crisis has also forced thousands of employees in most countries to work from home during the lockdown. According to data from Global Workplace Analytics, nearly 30% of the global workforce could have to work remotely several days a week by 2021. What if you could also work remotely?

Estonia took a revolutionary step by launching the world's first digital nomad visa. This visa is valid for one year and should allow employees and freelancers to work remotely while taking advantage of the country's mild climate and pleasant environment. With this new visa, Estonia aims at attracting at least 2,000 digital nomads, especially those from non-EU countries. It's worth noting that Estonia has been facing a brain drain for the past few years and is now focusing on young entrepreneurs.

If you have always dreamed of living and working on a remote island, Barbados, located in the Caribbean Sea, is another interesting option. The Barbados Welcome Stamp, which will soon be launched, is a 1-year visa intended for digital nomads. Holders of this visa will also be allowed to work in Barbados from abroad for 12 months.

Russia: relaunching tourism in 2021

While Russia plans to keep its borders closed until further notice, the government is currently reviewing its visa policy, especially regarding tourism. As of January 1st, 2021, nationals of 53 countries will be eligible for a single-entry tourist visa with a 16-days duration. This electronic visa will be free of charge for children and comes with a fee of around $ 50 per adult. The application can be made online, on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and will be processed within 4 days.

Egypt has also introduced an electronic visa system for visitors. Applicants from eligible countries no longer have to go to an embassy to apply for a visa. Egypt reopened its borders on July 1st, 2020, taking all necessary measures to prevent a second wave of COVID-19.