Picture this: You’ve just finished your fourth Zoom call of the day, with three more to go. Normally, your spirits would be flagging. But a glance outside your window shows the sun shining down on the terracotta rooftops of the Italian village where you’ll be working for the next nine months. You decide to step outside for a break, ambling down the cobblestone streets for a quick pick-me-up of an espresso. When you return to your laptop, your boss compliments you on the air of sprezzatura that shines through your every pore. You are a digital nomad in Italy, but you are so much more than that: You are joyful, and alive.
Perhaps this is a lot to pin on the news that Italy is planning to roll out visas available to remote workers outside the European Union. But the one-year, renewable visas, signed into law as part of the government’s new “decreto sostegni ter” decree last week, are sure to spark plenty such travel fantasies among work-from-anywhere types.
How does Italy’s digital nomad visa work?
The details of the new visa program are still being worked out. But the bill says that visas will be offered to people “who carry out highly qualified work activities through the use of technological tools that allow them to work remotely, autonomously or for a company that is not resident in the territory of the Italian state,” according to The Local.
Applicants will be required to demonstrate that they meet a minimum income threshold, which has not yet been set, and that they have health insurance. They will be able to bring their families, and both freelancers and people who work for companies not based in Italy will be eligible, Luca Carabetta, an Italian MP who helped create the new law, told The Times. Carabetta said that he hopes the program will begin this summer.
Fellow EU members Germany and Portugal also have visas for longer-term stays available to remote workers, and countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Georgia, and Malta have also introduced similar visas or permits. Opening borders to remote workers can be an attractive plan for countries looking to increase consumer spending and, more recently, to compensate for lost tourist income during the pandemic.
In Italy’s case, the plan goes hand in hand with the government’s €1 billion effort to revitalize its rural villages and connect them with high-speed internet.
“We have a thousand marvelous hamlets and remote working can revive them,” culture minister Dario Franceschini said last month, according to The Times. “Now that people can work without being physically present in the office, the isolation of these places is no longer a problem but part of their beauty.”