South Africa close to launching its remote work visa

  • The South African government is working on adjustments to its visas and the introduction of a remote work/digital nomad visa.
  • This visa is geared toward those who want to live in South Africa but work remotely for a foreign employer.
  • South Africa offers a cheaper cost of living compared to some countries in Western Europe, especially if you are earning in Pounds or Euros.

Attention remote workers who live in a country with miserable weather: why not come work somewhere with famous beaches, loads of sunshine, and relatively cheap restaurants?

In a bid to attract “the right skills” to South Africa’s economy, local government is working on introducing two new visa systems – the critical skills visa and the remote working visa.

According to President Cyril Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter, the incoming visas are geared towards making it easier for people who have IT, tech, engineering, science, math and other related skills to live and work in South Africa.

In particular, the remote work visa – otherwise known as a digital nomad visa – is being proposed as a means to attract individuals who are working remotely already, but want to enjoy a different lifestyle, in South Africa, for example.

For example, if you’re working remotely in a European nation, earning in Euros and want to live somewhere where the cost of living is cheaper because of the favourable exchange rate.

This provides benefits for you as the remote worker as things will be cheaper, and also for the local economy in which you will spend your money which is still trickling into your bank account from companies overseas. Effectively a win/win.

“The introduction of a remote working visa responds to the rapidly evolving world of work, where increasing numbers of skilled workers, notably in the tech industry, are attracted by the lifestyle benefits of working from a remote location,” wrote the president.

“It also caters to so-called digital nomads, who are able to work virtually from any location in the world. A remote worker who wants to work in South Africa while being employed by a foreign company will be able to receive such a visa.”

According to Investopedia, there are 49 countries currently offering temporary remote working visas, including Spain, Greece, Thailand, Namibia, Ecuador, Dubai, Malaysia, Panama, Grenada, and many other tropical countries like the Bahamas and Barbados.

With that the government last week published new draft regulations to drive reform in the visas the country offers. The regulations are out for comment, but there are some requirements before an application can be made.

One of which is the minimum income bracket of at least R1 million in annual income. This minimum is in place because it means you can still contribute to the local economy and enjoy a high standard of living.

Other new proposed regulations include the introduction of a points-based system that will be used in a new “critical skills visa.” The points will take account of factors like age, qualifications, language skills, work experience and having an offer of employment, among others.

“International experience shows that employees with critical skills contribute to improved productivity, enhanced innovation, and improving the competitiveness of the firms they work for,” he added.

The Department of Home Affairs says the criteria will be considered in accordance with required skills in South Africa’s critical skills list, which takes into account which jobs are in high demand locally.

[Image – CC 0 Pexels]


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