The Greek government is looking to offer visas to digital nomads who have the capability of working remotely anywhere in the world. The initiative announced some time back presents Greece’s climate, cuisine, and other attributes as incentives for nomads to locate here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things about the way people will operate in the years to come, and working remotely is now more than just a trend. Many companies say the old way of doing business from central offices is a thing of the past. So, instead of employees return en masse to offices, more and more professionals will work from home or remote locations.
Greece has had for years a brain drain that saw young professionals in exodus in order to find better employment elsewhere. Now the country is working to attract people to work and live and pay taxes in the country. Currently, Greece is ranked only 50th among 85 countries in luring digital nomads, whose numbers are expected to hit one billion by 2035.
One big hurdle the government has is to institute a special visa regime to attract nomads to Greece. By streamlining the work/live apparatus, Greece can become one of the most sought-after live and work destinations in the world. A report from Kathimerini recently suggests a bill will be filed by the Migration Ministry to address it and provide those workers with a sense of security. I spoke briefly this morning with the expert visual communication designer Panos Karachalios, who’s also one of the founders of Digital Nomads in Thessaly and Central Greece.
“My colleagues and I advise many professionals on working and living in Greece. Of course, one of the biggest hurdles digital professionals face is obtaining long-term permission to live in the EU and in Greece. This new visa plan will make life a lot easier for those who want to live and work from paradise, while at the same time reversing the negative so-called “brain drain” effect.”
Recent research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) estimated that, if Greece could attract 100,000 digital nomads annually, and if they stayed in the country for an average of six months, the annual net benefit for the economy would reach 1.3 billion euros ($1.58 billion,) almost the same as a week’s stay from 2.5 million tourists.
Another hurdle Greek officials have is the upgrade of Internet speeds across a wider swath of the country. The government is rolling out a pitch for people to come by highlighting other advantages, especially being a member of the European Union and access to the region, and a speeding digital reform.
Greece is focusing its campaign on places like the United Kingdom, where many Greeks and expatriates moved to work during a nearly decade-long economic and austerity crisis that drained Greece of many of its youngest, best, and brightest.
With the new visa regime in place, efforts like the one by Crete Region’s Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis can boost the catering, real estate, and tourism sectors, as well as the overall tax chest if nomads choose to move their finances to Greece as well. Along with a Golden Visa program offering rich foreigners a residency permit and an EU passport for investing. Last month I spoke with Nikos Alexakis, the Head of the Tourism Directorate for the Region of Crete about this new visa, and he had this to add:
“Though COVID-19 has caused a natural shift in priorities for everyone, we are working closely with Athens to get this new visa regime implemented. We are also ready and willing to help interested digital nomads find current answers and alternatives for moving to the island to work.”
Right now EU citizens, their spouses, and dependents are allowed to live in Greece without restrictions. However, non-EU nationals may need to obtain a type D visa (or National Visa) for staying longer than 90 days in the country. A long-stay D visa allows people to stay in Greece for more than three months for work, study, academic research, cultural, scientific, and religious events, and work reasons. This new visa will allow streamlining of the whole process greatly.
Credits: Photo by Pedro Szekely