Digital nomads – workers who can do their jobs or run their business from any location – are viewing Canada as the best place in the world to live that dream.
United Kingdom-based Circle Loop, the provider of a cloud-based VoIP solution which provides phone systems accessible via desktop and mobile devices, publishes its Digital Nomad Index and has ranked Canada as the number one destination for digital nomads.
“Home to one of the largest tech hubs in the world, it’s almost no surprise Canada ranks at the top of our list for the best country to be a digital nomad,” states Circle Loop.
“With world-renowned companies such as Google and Mastercard looking to open new offices and create amazing employment opportunities over the next five years, it would be incredibly easy to stay connected and make a living in one of the friendliest countries in the world.”
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During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of digital nomads soared as companies either closed their offices or offered work-from-home arrangements to encourage physical distancing and curb the transmission of the coronavirus.
In its COVID-19 and the Rise of the Digital Nomad report, the consulting firm of MBO Partners revealed the number of digital nomads in the US jumped by 49 per cent in 2020.
Long the work arrangement for freelancers and independent contractors, remote work exploded into the mainstream, traditional workplace in 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in major changes in the make-up of digital nomads,” notes Circle Loop.
Pandemic Brought Remote Work Arrangements Into The Mainstream
“The biggest shift is that traditional job holders have been unleashed from their offices and many, instead of staying in one place, are taking to the road. In 2020, the number of traditional workers (in the United States) working as digital nomads grew 96 percent, from 3.2 million to 6.3 million.”
That “road” often leads digital nomads to simply find a nice place to work within their own country.
But not always.
An increasing number of digital nomads are simply packing up their laptops and backpack or suitcase and moving to their dream locations and working from there – provided those locations allow for internet access.
Digital nomads from other countries can, of course, visit Canada with a visitor visa. Since they are neither looking for a job or planning to start a business in Canada, they are generally ineligible for work permits or the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program.
But coming as a visitor is not usually a pathway to permanent residency in Canada.
With the rise of the digital nomad phenomena, there is a growing sentiment in Canada that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) could help itself meet its ambitious immigration targets with a tailor-made program for these workers.
Digital Nomad Remote Work Visa Would Attract More Foreign Nationals To Seek Permanent Residency Here
Under a two-step process, these digital nomads could first work in Canada under a remote-based temporary-to-permanent residence immigration program.
Once these digital nomads were in Canada and working remotely, that temporary status could be counted towards a permanent residency application provided the candidate met pre-determined criteria.
That would cut down on the hurdles applicants face in obtaining a favourable Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under the International Mobility Program (IMP) and make it easier for foreign nationals to get work permits in Canada.
Countries throughout the world are already catering to digital nomads – and many others are gearing up to launch their own programs with financial criteria set very low to allow these workers to live and work in their countries provided they can at least take care of their basic needs.
New Zealand’s working holiday visa allows digital nomads, including Canadian citizens aged 18 to 35, to stay there for up to two years with an income of as little as about $271 per month.
Colombia Launching A Digital Nomad Remote Work Visa This Month
Colombia’s digital nomad visa, launched this month, will reportedly allow foreign nationals to live and work in the country for up to two years, provided they have health insurance and make a minimum of about $898 per month.
Other countries with similar programs include:
- the Netherlands;
- Cape Verde;
- Malta, and;
Portugal, one of the destinations of choice for digital nomads, requires remote workers make four times its national monthly minimum wage – or roughly $4,400 per month in Canadian funds. The one-year residency permit can be renewed annually for up to five years.