The countries welcoming US travelers on remote work visas

A carnival-goer in Aruba
A carnival-goer in Aruba (Photo: Aruba Tourism Authority)

If like us, you love traveling and are finding it hard to be stuck at home, the idea of remotely working from abroad may appeal. Several countries are offering extended travel visas to US citizens, although some are not LGBTQ friendly. For example, Dubai may offer stunning skyscrapers and soaring temperatures, but you’d have to stay firmly in the closet. Similarly, Jamaica has been dubbed by some as the worst place in the world to be gay.

Thankfully, some other options are a little more welcoming.

Aruba

California Lighthouse, Aruba
California Lighthouse, Aruba (Photo: Aruba Tourism Authority)

Aruba is an island in the Caribbean but also an autonomous region of the Netherlands. Thankfully, it shares many of the same laws. Same-sex sexual activity is been legal, with an equal age of consent of 15, and there are same-sex civil unions (but not marriage). You’ll find several gay bars in its capital, Oranjestad.

The island launched its One Happy Workation program in September. It allows visitors to stay for up to 90-days at any of the hotels participating in the Workation program. There are no official forms to complete for this one, as it’s more a government-backed hotel promotion.

Many accommodations are offering special Workation deals, including reduced rates and free WiFi, to lure travelers back. If you want a whole place to yourself, some condo deals are offering 30% their regular monthly rate.

The Cayman Islands

 

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The Cayman Islands are an autonomous British Overseas Territory. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 2001, and the country legalized same-sex civil partnerships in September (legal battles for marriage continue to rumble on).

In October, it launched its ‘Global Citizen Concierge Program’.

“Global Citizen Concierge provides the perfect opportunity for remote workers to live the life of their dreams on our idyllic shores and amongst our Caymankind people,” said Hon. Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism, Moses Kirkconnell in a press statement. “Our Government has been successful in the face of the global health crisis and we’ve emerged as a safe haven in the Caribbean.”

Those who wish to take advantage of the offer may stay for up to two years. However, single people must be earning at least $100,000, and couples jointly earning $150,000 (or $180,000 if they have a child). There’s also a fee of $1,469 per year to join the program, and you must take out relevant health insurance.

Barbados

 

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Barbados was possibly the first country to kick-start the trend of extended work-ation visas, with the launch in July of its Barbados Welcome Stamp, which we reported upon back in August.

Related: Barbados welcomes gay couples to apply for visa to work remotely from the island

Be warned: unlike the other countries mentioned here, same-sex activity remains illegal in the country, although the law is not enforced. When specifically asked if same-sex married couples could apply for the visa, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said, “I want to say that as long as I am Prime Minister of this nation, we welcome all. Everyone. At this country that has been forged regrettably in the bowels of discrimination cannot want to discriminate against anybody for any reason.”

Positive words, but not everyone all Barbadians may feel the same, and LGBTQ visitors may still experience discrimination.

The stamp allows you to stay up to 12 months. The cost of a one-year Barbados Stamp for a single person is $2,000, or $3,000 for a family visa (which can include same-sex spouses). Applicants must be already employed, earning a minimum of $50,000 annually, and seeking to work remotely – not traveling to Barbados to find work.

Estonia

 

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Are you wanting to travel beyond the Caribbean or are more attracted to a cooler climate? Situated in Northern Europe, the small nation of Estonia is sandwiched between Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Gay sex has been legal since 1992, with an equal age of consent of 14. There’s no same-sex marriage yet, but there are anti-hate crime protections and local Pride parades.

Estonia launched its Digital Nomad Visa in August, allowing people to visit and work remotely for up to a year (by contrast, US visitors are currently not allowed to visit for short, tourism visits). To apply for the visa, you need to be earning a minimum of €3,000 a month (about $3,530). Temperatures do plummet in the winter months, but on the upside, the cost of living is pretty low (the country offers some of the cheapest Airbnb deals in Europe).

Georgia

 

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No, not the US state… But the country in Eastern Europe. Describing Georgia as ‘gay-friendly’ may be a stretch, but it decriminalized gay sex in 2000 and has anti-discrimination protections in place. However, it introduced a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2018 and remains a deeply conservative country. It only hosted its first, small Pride march in the capital, Tbilisi, in 2019. If visiting, discretion is advised.

However, like Estonia, it’s one of Europe’s cheaper destinations, should you be thinking of an extended stay. In July it announced it was welcoming remote workers, particularly freelancers and the self-employed. By August 5, around 2,700 had applied to take part in the ‘Remotely from Georgia’ program. This included applicants from the US, UK, Australia, and Russia. To apply, check out the ‘Remotely from Georgia’ form.