I have been thinking today of the countries such as Dubai and Estonia that offer easy-to-obtain 1-year digital nomad work visas. As I mentioned in a previous post about traveling in Mexico during the pandemic:
I have been looking for what countries offer a "digital nomad" visa for self-employed people such as myself. I was fascinated to see that Dubai has a great program. If you can prove 5k in income for the past 3-months you can get a 1-year visa. The Spanish visa looks a bit complicated, but still possible. The Estonian Visa looks very simple and easy to get. You simply need to be a freelancer or someone with a company outside of Estonia with a monthly income of €3504 that is about $4300 U.S.
If you have the requisite income you can get a visa to work in those countries for a year. Estonia offers the ability to renew for one year. And in Dubai, apparently, you can renew on a yearly basis for an indefinite period. But there is no getting around the fact that those digital nomad visas do not offer a way to permanent residency. That is not a problem if you simply want to try out various countries and travel the world.
But what if you want to put down roots?
When I arrived in Mexico on September 1st, 2010 I came in on a 6-month tourist visa. Before my visa expired, I converted it to a 1-year renewable residency visa (with help from a lawyer the first year). After renewing that visa several times, I was able to apply for a 2-year residency permit and then applied for and received a permanent residency. And now, if I want to I can nationalize and become a Mexican Citizen.
You will never have the option of nationalizing if you are in a country that only gives 1-year digital nomad visas. That might not be a problem for many people, but it is something to consider. It might not be fun to have your renewal visa rejected and be forced to leave the country. And it can be a hassle to have to renew your visa every year. Not having to go to the Mexican immigration office every year to renew my visa has saved a great deal of time and anxiety.
Peace! I hope you are doing well out there...