Greece can officially attract and welcome digital nomads after the introduction of a special visa, called digital nomads visa. This new type of visa is provided by the bill, named “Reform of deportation and return procedures of. third country nationals, issues of residence permits and procedures for providing international protection and other provisions” of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum and the Ministry of Citizen Protection, which was submitted to Hellenic Parliament a few days ago.
This specific visa, according to article 11 of the bill, provides permission to third-country citizens to enter and remain in Greece. These citizens are self-employed, employees or freelancers, who work remotely using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with employers or. clients outside Greece. The duration of digital nomads visa is 12 months with possibility of renewal. However, a procedure with some conditions and criteria must be followed for providing this visa.
Procedure of issuing
The issuance of a residence permit takes place, if the applicant presents himself in person or sends by e-mail or by registered letter a relevant request to the competent Greek ConsularAuthority. The Consular Authority must respond to the applicant within 10 days from the submission of the request and complete the process of issuing a visa “in one stop”, without further bureaucratic procedures.
Conditions and criteria for issuing
However, the application process for digital nomads visa is accompanied by specific conditions. Initially, the applicant will have to submit a solemn declaration stating his intention to reside in the country with the national entry visa for the purpose of remote work. In the same statement he/she must declare that he/she is not providing, in any way, work or services to an employer based in Greece.
He / She must submit an employment contract or project contract or proof of employment with an employer or employers, natural or legal entities, who are established outside Greek territory. The contract can be fixed-term or indefinite. In case of fixed-term employment contract, it is noteworthy that the remaining period must cover the period of validity of the issued visa. Moreover, the applicant must provide information about his / her status in the business, as well as information about brand name, registered office, field of activity and corporate purpose of business, in case the citizen of a third country is self-employed in his / her own business, which is located outside the Greek territory.
It is worth noting that with the above supporting documents the applicant will have to pay a national visa fee of 75 euros, while the bill provide the granting of a two-year permit residence accompanied by a fee of 1,000 euros.
In addition to the above conditions for the issuance of residence permit, there are some extra income criteria. Those criteria should be taken into account in order to ensure the livelihood of digital nomads in Greece without burdening the national social welfare system.
Specifically, each applicant must prove that he/she has a stable income to cover his/her living expenses. The amount of sufficient resources is set to 3,500 euros/month and can be proved a) by the employment or work contract or proof of employment, in case of dependent work, services or project or b) by a bank account. If the sufficient resources come from dependent work services, provided services or project, the above minimum amount refers to net income after the payment of the required taxes in the country of employment.
Provision for the issuance of residence permit to family members
There is a provision in the bill for the issuance of residence permit for digital nomads’ family members. Family members can apply for an individual visa which expires at the same time as the digital nomads visa. However, during their residence in Greece, the spouse or cohabitant and members of the caregiver’s family are not allowed to provide dependent work or engage in any form of economic activity in the country.
Income criteria for the issuance of residence permit are also applicable to the family members of digital nomads, so that they can cover their living expenses. Specifically, the amount of 3500 euros/month is increased by 20% for the spouse or cohabitant and 15% for each child. The amount of sufficient resources might be redefined by a ministerial decision.
Renewal of digital nomads visa
The duration of digital nomads visa is 12 months, but it can be renewed for another 2 years for both digital nomads and their family members, upon application submitted before the expiration of the national visa, subject to article 6 of the bill. If digital nomads, as well as their family members, decide to leave the Greek territory and the validity of visa expires, they will have the opportunity to apply and receive again a national entry visa. If there are periods of absence from the country, the renewal of the residence permit will not be prevented, as long as these periods don’t exceed 6 months per year.
Advantages of attracting digital nomads
More and more countries are establishing procedures for issuing digital nomads visa, as digital nomads become an increasing trend worldwide. At European level, digital nomads visa is held by countries such as Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Croatia, Norway, Malta and Estonia. Some US States offer similar opportunities, as well as areas like Mexico, Thailand, Dubai, Australia, Cayman Islands and Barbados.
The issuance of digital nomads visa is a nice starting point and one of the factors that a digital nomad will take into account in order to choose a destination for residence and work. There are, however, other parameters, such as the cost of living, digital nomad community, connectivity, environment, activities, safety and health system, that digital nomads evaluate before they select a destination.
Attracting this growing group of workers has multiple benefits for Greece, given the fact that. digital nomads are high-income employees and their residence will provide additional revenue nationally.
In Greece, an increasing amount of organizations have shown interest in dealing with digital nomads. One such example is the municipality of Rhodes, which has assigned Digital Nomad Observatory a project of providing services related to the attraction of digital nomads in the island. The purpose is to develop actions aimed at studying the needs of digital nomads, as well as evaluating the current situation and the benefits for the destination from this group of workers.