Profitable Nomad Couple

78. A Digital Nomad's Guide to Visas

January 31, 2024 Austin and Monica Mangelson
Profitable Nomad Couple
78. A Digital Nomad's Guide to Visas
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever felt tangled in the web of visa regulations while dreaming of your next digital nomad destination? 

In this episode, we are going to break down everything you need to know about visa's into easy-to-follow paths, specifically tailored for you, the modern digital nomad. From tourist visas and visa runs to the latest digital nomad visas, we've got the knowledge on how to stay legal and maximize your travel potential. 

Understanding these important details can mean the difference between a smooth journey or a bureaucratic nightmare. 

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Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. This is a show where we share all of our secrets about building a sustainable location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

We're Austin and Monica. We're a digital Nomad couple here to help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset, ignite your passions and develop a purpose-driven online business.

Speaker 1:

Get ready for weekly insights and inspiring stories to empower you to live life on your own terms.

Speaker 2:

So are you ready to unlock the Nomad mindset and embrace a life of limitless possibilities? Let's dive in.

Speaker 1:

All right, everybody, Welcome to another episode of the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. Today we are tackling a really big topic, and it's a topic that a lot of people have been asking us questions about, especially recently. I feel like we just had a big influx of people who were like oh my gosh, I don't understand. V says will you help me out?

Speaker 2:

Hello Monica. Spoiler alert. Now we know we're talking about visas.

Speaker 1:

Today we're talking about visas. In case you didn't gather that, I guess.

Speaker 2:

It's probably going to be in the title.

Speaker 1:

I'm probably going to say the word visa. So much in this small episode. But visas are a very complex, a very nuanced thing that is going to vary from country to country and will change frequently, and it changes depending on where your home country is as well. So that was a long-winded way to say you're going to have to do your own research outside of this episode. Our goal here is just to give you the broad overview. We're going to break down a couple different types of visas that make sense for digital nomads, we're going to talk to you about different requirements and the main ways to apply and extend visas, and then we're going to give you some resources to help you do your own research.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the purpose of this episode is not to give you everything that you need and answer every question you'll have. It's just a launchpad for you. So the first thing we want to talk about is what is a visa? Anyway, a visa is very similar to a passport, but I like to think of visas and passports as two sides of the same coin. So a passport is issued from your country, from wherever you're a citizen or a resident of, and allows you to leave that country and to travel into the world wherever your country has agreements with and allows travel to. The main thing is that it's issued from your country. A visa, on the other hand, is issued from the country that you're traveling to and gives you permission to enter that country and to stay in that country for a certain period of time. So you do need both of them.

Speaker 2:

Pretty often, if not always, visas come in a few different forms. There are some newer electronic visas, which are really nice. They are linked online to your passport, so there's no need usually to print off any physical document. Have anything on hand. Just have your phone. If you've gone through the application process, you just pull up that information on your phone and you're good to go. The most common form that Monica and I have experienced is some sort of stamp or a sticker that's put into your passport. Sometimes there are some like the visa is a whole document that you need to print out and have signed and everything like that. Those are probably the least convenient. But yeah, again, most often it's a stamp or sticker taped or glued or stamped or sometimes have stapled into your passport.

Speaker 1:

We did have one time where they stapled the document into a passport, but it was bigger than the size of our passport, so it was really annoying.

Speaker 2:

It was not convenient.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I did actually have one time where I was on a longer term visa and they gave me like a physical card, almost like a driver's license, that I carried around.

Speaker 2:

So there are a few different forms, different types of visas. So, first off, there are a lot of these. We are not going to be able to touch on all the different types of visas that exist because, for example, the United States alone has 185 different types of visas that they issue. So we're not going to touch on all of them. We're not going to be able to, but there are some, like big bucket, broad categories that we can talk about, and these are the ones that we feel like are most applicable to people who want to be digital nomads, people who are going to be listening to this podcast, people who are in our Facebook group. We're going to be touching on, I think, one, two, three, four, five, six different types.

Speaker 1:

Coming out. This is probably the most common visa I have seen digital nomads use and it is the tourist visa.

Speaker 2:

And the easiest.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the tourist visa is by far the easiest. It's the one that doesn't have any tax implications. It's typically really easy to get. It doesn't have any income, any requirements or anything like that. It is given If you're using absolutely. So that's one of the four things in there for people who are looking to go into this country and just spend a short amount of time there to enjoy themselves, for leisure, for tourism. Typically, the average length of these visas is normally about three months and typically you have no limit for how many times you can apply, though there are some exceptions to that rule, like one of the biggest ones that comes to the top of my mind is the Schengen region, which is most of Europe, where you are only allowed to be there 90 days out of any 180 day period. So 90 days there, 90 days out, before you can reapply. So realistically, you can only go twice in a year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, a really common thing that travelers and digital nomads do related to this type of visa is they'll do what's called a visa run. So we saw this a lot in Vietnam. Let's say you're allowed to be in that country I think for us it was a month, right, 30 days. So your month comes up and as long as you leave, you can come back and reapply and, like we said, there's no limit to the application. So a lot of people there'd actually be companies who would bust people out of Vietnam for a night, which would reset their visa. Then they could come back, stay another month in the country. There's a lot of countries that allow that. So a lot of travelers and digital nomads will take advantage of that and leave for a night, come back.

Speaker 2:

Reply. We do want to say to be super careful and pay super attention to the wording of how long you're allowed to stay in a country. For example, when we were in Cambodia, we were allowed to be there for one month. We assumed it meant 30 days, that those were kind of synonymous, because a lot of countries say 30 days, or sometimes they'll say 90 days, which we just in our head. We think that means three months, but we happened to be traveling in Cambodia during the month of February, which was a shorter month, so we were assuming 30 days. We are leaving the airport, leaving the country, and we had to pay a fee because we had stayed there longer than we were supposed to, because we were there in February and we had counted I think we were there like 29 days. We made sure that we were there, leaving on time, but because of February it was longer than one month. So just pay super close attention to those types of things.

Speaker 1:

There are different ways to extend your tourist visa. Like Austin said, the visa runs, or sometimes even just it's as easy as going and applying for an extension through immigration offices and you normally just pay a fee and then you get an extended visa. So if there are places that just totally capture your heart and you want to stay longer, there are options for you there. Okay, next form of visa these are actually two different kinds, so we kind of lumped into one. It's a business or a work visa.

Speaker 1:

So a business visa allows you to go into a country to engage in business, attend conference, drop contracts, maybe sometimes even set up your business in that country and run your business, have business, make money in that country. A work visa is allowing you to take a job in this country, so they allow you to work for an employer. There are a lot of like work away type options for digital nomads that I know are really popular, especially during like seasonal work. I know there's a lot of people who really like to do that, but you will need a work visa for that purpose. These visas are typically longer term than a tourist visa and normally can go up to about four years in a country before, you would have to reapply.

Speaker 2:

The next step of visa is called a transit visa. So these are for just passing through a country. For example, if you are on your way to South America and you want to make a quick stop in Central America, but you're not going to be there very long, just think, I guess. Think of this as like a long layover where you're going to leave the airport, go and explore and then come back to the airport and fly out again. Because these transit visas are usually issued for about 24 to 96 hours, sometimes all the way up to two weeks, but usually not. Usually it's just one to three days.

Speaker 2:

You do need these to leave the airport between flights, again depending on the country. We just learned, for example, that Peru does not have a transit visa. So if you're stopping by in Peru on your way somewhere else and you do want to leave the airport, it's just a normal tourist visa that you would get. So some countries have these, some countries don't, but typically they're not issued at the airport. So you will need to apply for these at an embassy or a consulate or online and get these ahead of time before you travel.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there are a couple of weird places. Like you might need a transit visa if your flight stops at a Canadian airport on the way to another country. It's an example of, like you just have a layover there, you might need a visa to go through immigration. It's kind of weird and it's not gonna be super common. No-transcript, it's my thought. I mean, if you have more experience with us than we do, please let us know. I'm very curious about this. But yeah, it is just something you're gonna have to plan ahead for.

Speaker 1:

Okay, the next kind of visa is a student visa and this is for people who are wanting to study abroad and it's normally valid for the duration of your your program, so normally two to four years.

Speaker 1:

Typically, when you're on a student visa, your work opportunities are very limited. I know specifically in the US you are allowed to work like on campus, but you weren't allowed to get jobs outside of campus For student visas. I'm gonna guess there's other really similar requirements to these in other countries. That's not to say that you can't make money, you just can't hold a job in that country, if that makes sense, and we met a lot of people in Thailand who were on student visas, who were wanting to stay in Thailand for longer than the 45-day tourist visa and they use it through student visas. That being said, the schools and programs that you apply to had to be approved by the government to qualify for a student visa. But it could be like fun classes though, like we met people who were doing cooking, like going to cooking school or doing multi-classes and things like that, but it had to be an approved program.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thailand was a really popular place for this kind of visa, because Thailand is so awesome, why wouldn't you want to stay there forever? But yeah, monica made a good point. Those typically need to be like an approved, verified school, but from what we've seen, there's no requirement of how many classes you're taking or anything like that. So you could theoretically sign up for just a single class and then apply for a student visa and possibly you get approved.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that being said, I do think you have to be accepted by the school before you can apply for the visa.

Speaker 2:

Correct, yep, okay, retirement visa. This is a visa that is made for people who want to retire. So that means that typically a requirement for a retirement visa is that you have to have reached retirement age and I'm assuming this is from the country that's issuing the visa, so probably around 65 or so. So just so you know, this is like a form of a residence permit. It allows you to stay there. I think it's normally one to three years. It's kind of the average length for a retirement visa. Another common requirement is you have to show proof of sufficient income or sufficient funds to be able to support yourself. The idea is that the country doesn't want you just freeloading. They want to know that you're going to be able to contribute to the economy in some way, especially if you're of retirement age. You're probably not going to be working, so they want to make sure that you can still have money to spend in that country. So you have to show that you have enough income or it's fun somewhere to support yourself.

Speaker 1:

All right. This next type of visa is the newest kind of visa that we have on our list, and that is a digital nomad visa, so these visas are specifically for people who are working remotely, who want to come into a country and want to stay longer term. Currently, I think there's about 50 countries that offer digital nomad visas and there's about another 10 or so that have announced their intentions to set up a digital nomad visa, so that's super exciting. You do have to prove that you work remotely, and normally there is some sort of income requirement that you have to prove that you can meet consistently, but this is a really great option for remote workers, freelancers or people who own their own business online and just want to live in one country a longer amount of time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I would imagine that in the coming years this is just going to be getting more and more popular, as with the rise of remote work and digital nomadding. I just assume. My guess, my prediction, is that every year we're just going to see more and more and more countries offering this type of visa.

Speaker 1:

I will say as just a word of caution, some of these longer term visas will affect your tax situation, so I want you to make sure that you are paying a lot of attention to that before you book your trip, before you get your accommodations and things like that. And if you have any questions about that, I highly recommend that you scroll back to episode 60 and 61, which are tax episodes with our nomad tax experts, crystal and Marcella, and so just make sure you know what tax treaties might be in place, what your tax options are, where to set up your tax residency if you are looking to have more of a residence type situation through these visas.

Speaker 2:

We are huge advocates of Marcella and Crystal. They're both super awesome and very knowledgeable. So what are some common visa requirements? What do you typically need to have in order to apply and get approved for a visa? Again, we might sound like broken records, but this is going to vary greatly across the board from country to country. But these are some common things that you'll find your passport.

Speaker 1:

And normally it's like an empty page on your passport, like you can't have a full passport.

Speaker 2:

It has some empty pages and it normally can't expire within six months from the time that you're planning to travel somewhere to that country.

Speaker 2:

So a blank page on your passport and a not old passport.

Speaker 2:

Proof of income like we talked about with the digital nomad visa and retirement visa, proof of how much you're making, sometimes proof of health insurance and then proof of onward travel. We've seen this a lot with the tourist visas, similar to the retirement visa. They wanna make sure that you're not gonna freeload and just live off of other people and to do that, they make sure that you're leaving after your visa's expired. So if you don't actually have plans, like a lot of digital nomads and travelers don't often know exactly when they're gonna leave the country or where they're gonna go next, if this is your case, you can actually go to this awesome website called OnwardTicketcom and pay about $12 to $15 for a short-term ticket Like it's a valid plane ticket but it expires in about a day and you get that right before you travel and then that's proof of your onward travel and then, once you get to your country, it expires. Then you can stay there until your visa's up and then make plans for it to go after that.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so the main ways to apply for a visa. There are three really good options, but not all countries have these options available.

Speaker 2:

So again, do your research All right number one, In case we haven't said that yet.

Speaker 1:

Number one is applying online and getting an online visa. This is very convenient and definitely my favorite way to go. Number two visiting an embassy or a consulate, and normally this is a longer process, so definitely make sure you are planning in advance for that process to be able to have time to work, all right. Number three visa upon arrival. So this has the potential to be a little bit risky because you do still have to apply and you have the potential of being denied. Typically from what Austin and I have seen and experienced, the airlines make you apply ahead of time, even for a visa upon arrival, because the airlines don't wanna be responsible for dropping off in a country that you are not allowed access into. But it could potentially be a little bit of a risky situation.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think, as long as you do your research, if you meet the requirements that are online for the country you're traveling to and you know what's needed, you shouldn't have any issues. It's just, there's always that slight chance.

Speaker 1:

As long as you're not a known criminal, they'd be good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, don't do that.

Speaker 1:

We're a known criminal. Don't do that either.

Speaker 2:

Okay, just no criminal activity, please.

Speaker 1:

So some really good resources we have for you and we'll make sure these are linked down below is to go to wwwhandyvisascom, and this is a really cool website where you can put in where you're from, where your passport originates from and where you're going, and then it'll spit out the visa requirements for you. And then the next one is travelstategov. This is specifically for travelers from the US though each country should have their own version of this and this is a really good site that provides information from the government, which will give you different like visa information. It can give you different like safety tips and different things like that, so it can be really nice as well, as I would recommend looking up the government website of the country you are traveling to Most of the time.

Speaker 1:

That's going to be the most up-to-date website, although I have been on a couple government sites that have not seemed like they were up-to-date, so just make sure you're kind of checking with that. If you ever have any questions, feel free to call your consulate or the embassy to get more up-to-date information. Another really good one that we just heard about is sherpacom, and the website's a little bit weird. You can't just type in sherpacom, so make sure you're using that link down below because it's a little bit funky, but it's another really good one to stay up-to-date on visa requirements, though we always recommend that you cross-reference these requirements just to make sure you're getting the most accurate information.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I normally look up the requirements in a couple different places and make sure that they say the same thing, because sometimes they don't, and then I'll look up. If they don't match, then I'll go to the country's website of where I'm traveling to and see what they say. So that's kind of a good practice to get into, I suppose. So there you have it. That is your visa crash course visas 101, for anyone interested in digital nomading and traveling, we would love for you, if you're not already, to join us in our Facebook group for things like this, if you have more questions about visas.

Speaker 2:

Our Facebook group currently has members from, I think, about 40 different countries around the world, so it's a great community of travelers. You can ask any questions you have about visas, about traveling, about working online. Monica and I are both very active in that group, so if you're not there yet, go join us, and really it's just an open invitation to join this really awesome community of other people where you can get some information from and contribute information to and I mean, we're a little biased. We love this group, so that's also going to be linked below for you to head in and join us. Thanks so much for joining us here on the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. We appreciate you listening to us today.

Speaker 1:

If you enjoyed this episode, share it on Instagram and be sure to tag us. At Austin and Monica, together, we can inspire others to embrace a location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

And while you're there, we'd love to connect with you, so make sure you follow us for more tips and inspiration on living your dream location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 1:

Until next week. Remember that you have the power to shape your own path. So stay curious, stay adventures and stay connected.

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