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Effective December 23, 2022, the Spanish government has introduced a new visa category to allow so-called “digital nomads” to work in Spain for companies located abroad. Part of a larger “Startups Law” aimed at encouraging an entrepreneurial business environment, the new visa category will enable foreign nationals to live and work in the country without obtaining sponsorship from a Spanish employer. With the introduction of the new visa category, Spain joins several other countries – including Italy, Romania, Iceland, and the United Arab Emirates – in seeking to attract an increasingly mobile class of global talent through digital nomad visas.

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On December 8, 2022, the Council of the European Union voted unanimously to accept Croatia’s bid for admission to the Schengen Area. The decision means that as of January 1, 2023, all internal land and sea border controls between Croatia and neighboring Schengen states will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted starting March 26, 2023. Croatia will also begin issuing Schengen visas beginning January 1, 2023, and will make full use of the Schengen Information System. Croatia’s addition to the Schengen Area is one of a series of recent developments in the country’s increasing integration with the European and international communities. These developments include Croatia’s adoption of the euro, addition to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and grant of free movement in Switzerland.

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As countries around the world have begun to loosen or even eliminate entry requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has maintained comparatively stringent restrictions on entry by foreign nationals. However, the Japanese government is increasingly easing these restrictions, allowing larger numbers of foreign nationals to enter the country through several different visa pathways. While major restrictions remain in place, foreign nationals seeking to enter Japan now have greater opportunity to do so than at any point in the last two years.

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As of July 2022, Costa Rica officially opened the application process for the country’s new remote worker visa under the immigration category “Stay (Estancia) for Remote Workers and Service Providers.” Like many countries, Costa Rica suffered a hit to its tourism sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country created the digital nomad visa in an effort to attract long-term visitors and stimulate the local economy. The law enabling the new visa category was signed in August 2021, but administrative and logistical requirements have delayed implementation until now.

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Effective June 1, 2022, the Italian government has lifted all COVID-related entry requirements for international travelers. Under the new rules, travelers are no longer required to conduct pre- or post-arrival testing, complete pre-departure registration, or demonstrate proof of vaccination. The elimination of COVID-related entry requirements makes Italy part of a growing number of countries that have loosened or eliminated COVID-related entry requirements on international travelers, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.

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On April 27, 2022, the European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – proposed the digitalization of the Schengen visa process. If implemented, the proposal would enable an online visa application platform and replace visa stickers in passports with a secure electronic status. Applicants may still need to visit consular posts to submit biometric data, such as fingerprints. Under the Commission’s proposal, Schengen Area member countries would have five years from the date of implementation to switch to the digitalized visa platform.

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On April 22, 2022, the Irish government announced an expansion of the eligibility criteria for the country’s multiple entry short stay visas. The changes mean that foreign nationals from all visa-required countries will now be eligible to apply for a five-year, multiple entry short stay visa.  The government’s announcement is intended to ease administrative burdens and facilitate multiple short-stay trips by visa-required nationals as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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On March 28, 2022, the Italian parliament approved a law creating a new “Digital Nomad” visa for remote workers from outside the European Union (EU). The government has thirty days to implement the law and to provide the operational details, including the required documents and application procedures. Once implemented, the new visa is expected to provide flexibility for non-EU nationals seeking to live and work in Italy without first obtaining sponsorship from an Italian employer. Italy’s adoption of a Digital Nomad visa follows the introduction of similar immigration pathways in Romania, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

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On March 15, 2022, the Indian government announced a significant relaxation in COVID-19 travel restrictions. Under the terms of the announcement, tourists will be able to enter the country on either paper or e-Tourist visas for the first time since March 2020. All international flights to and from India will also resume as of March 27, 2022. The Indian government’s move comes as several countries throughout the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland, have relaxed or eliminated their pandemic-related restrictions on international travel.

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Effective January 17, 2022, the Romanian government has begun implementing a new “Digital Nomad” visa designed to allow foreign nationals to enter the country for work purposes without first being sponsored by a local employer. The new visa is expected to provide increased flexibility to remote workers while also helping to attract human and financial capital during a time of critical labor shortages. Romania’s introduction of the Digital Nomad visa follows the launch of remote work visas in countries such as Iceland and the United Arab Emirates.

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