Are nomad visas too expensive?

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Hey friends,

Luca here, writing from the ever-dynamic and vibrant Mexico City πŸ‡²πŸ‡½ today.

As some of you might know, the recent launch of Japan's and South's Korea digital nomad visas made big waves in the digital nomad community. It goes back to the never-ending debate that once even reached CNBC, which once claimed that "Digital nomad’ visas are easier to get than ever β€” especially if you’re rich".

A recent poll about digital nomad visas and its results
The results of a recent poll we shared with all of you on Instagram

I get why some people might be upset about the high-income requirements set by Japan (a whopping Β₯10 million or US$68k). At the same time, it's difficult to ignore the complexities around creating these visa programs for governments.

I've tried then to wrap my head around why some countries set such lofty financial requirements and I thought to share with you what I learned.

When interest from applicants is extremely high, increased fees usually help governments manage visitor volume and prevent over-tourism, while this inevitably cuts out many budget-conscious remote workers from applying.

On the other hand, countries like Japan and South Korea that can offer high-income digital nomads many services and quality-of-life perks, tend to factor this, along with the high living costs, into their visa pricing. And this, in turn, excludes those with more basic needs who don't necessarily have access to high financial resources.

There are also other trade-offs to consider:

  • Some countries offset lost tax revenue with higher visa fees, while others prioritize affordability
  • More efficient visa processing systems lower overhead costs, enabling reduced visa expenses
  • Countries compensate for tax incentives lost on digital nomad visa through higher fees
  • Streamlined online applications cut down on bureaucracy expenses, translating usually to lower visa costs

In short - it's complicated!

As nomads, it's normal to crave more meaningful cultural exchange, but we cannot ignore government policies for more responsible tourism and financial empowerment. Still, costs that limit access for digital workers worldwide are problematic as well.

So, there's no easy solution here.

From my experience, money matters far less than human connection in securing meaningful experiences in a country.

I personally can easily do without fancy hotels and I often sleep in local guest houses run by locals because I like to better understand a place and how people live. But that's just me.

Ultimately, we all choose our own path. More expensive visas may provide access to dream locations, which could outweigh the price tag. Whereas more affordable remote work models will keep emerging for budget-conscious nomads.

I don't really have all the answers here.

But through open and thoughtful discussion, I strongly believe we can all together guide policy towards inclusion and accommodate those with different needs.

Keep being thoughtful my friends and I really appreciate the passion in discussing your point of view on social media, so don’t change!


What are your thoughts about it? Hit reply to this email and I'll love to hear your thoughts.

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