Empowering the Freelance Economy

Need a change of scenery? Barbados is offering 12-month Visas for remote workers- here’s what we know so far

Hastings Beach, Barbados @ David Cain Unsplash
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The ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ government initiative aims to attract international remote workers to a healthy Caribbean lifestyle and climate and in the process, help give the local economy a healthy boost.

Speaking during the official reopening of Primo Bar and Bistro, St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, The Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said one of the things the pandemic has shown the Caribbean island is that it made short-term travel more difficult because of the COVID-19 testing and the requirements for rapid testing, which were not reliably available.

Barbados has reported 105 cases of COVID-19, with 7 deaths, and at the time of writing, only one new case was reported, according to a local news report via Twitter. Despite the relatively low number of deaths, the economy is in a dire state, trebling its unemployment figures since the lockdown measures began in March. The country’s population is just 287,392 and is extremely reliant on visitors, namely through tourism and the interlinked sectors of retail, restaurants, hotels, rentals, and other tourism-related activities. With these two factors in play, something radical had to be proposed by the government to get the economy ticking over again.

“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple of months at a time; go back and come back,” said PM Mottley. But in order for those things to truly resonate, what does it mean?   It means “that what we offer has to be world-class and what we continue to offer is world-class.”

Mottley said that the Government is committed to working with visitors on the promotion of new concepts, such as the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, which will open the country’s borders to make it as “hospitable as ever ” and making it available for Barbadians from every walk of life to believe that for special occasions, or just for so, that they can come out and be a part of this wonderful exercise.”

Source: Government Information Service of Barbados

Who can apply (and will it cost me)?

The Barbados Welcome Stamp is only open to those earning more than USD 50,000. However, those interested should enquire with the nearest Barbados High Commission if two people with a combined salary of over USD 50,000 can also apply. Those with children that are not school age may take this remote working option as a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you could additionally enquire if you could also provide services to local companies in addition to your main work (i.e. on a freelance consulting basis) it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if it could reinvigorate the economy in any way.

The scheme would give visitors the right to work in the country for up to a year, regardless of where their employer is based. It’s expected to cost USD2,000 for an individual and USD3,000 for a family visa — irrespective of how many children that family has. Participants in the scheme will be required to take out health insurance, according to an NBC News report.

Source: Twitter/Good Morning Britain

Will I pass the test?

Travelers from high-risk countries are expected to have the results of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. High-risk countries are defined as those with more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission. The COVID-19 PCR test should be taken from an accredited laboratory (ISO, CAP, UKAS or equivalent), according to Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Travellers from low risk countries will have up to one week prior to departure for Barbados to take their tests. Low risk countries are defined as those with less than 100 new cases in the prior seven days and not in the Community Transmission Category.

If no test is taken prior to landing, then the traveler will be quarantined for two days while awaiting the results. Visitors are also required to undergo a temperature check on arrival and must wear a mask at the airport, according to the NBC news report.

For details on what is required prior to entering Barbados for a long-term stay, you will find more details here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel for those living in the UK.

Your ‘home’ away from home?

The scheme is expected to start in August. For long stays, it may be worth looking at airbnb for its self-catering options and to keep costs down on ‘eating out’, but you will need to enquire with the host if they accept long-term stays. If so, you may be able to negotiate a better rate.

If you have factored in a ‘going out’ budget and believe that food costs will be lower than your home country, it may be worth just eating breakfast in your hotel room (store-bought items) and eating lunch and/or dinner out in an effort to boost the local economy.

Hotels, however, are good for those that like the idea of having someone keeping your ‘remote office’ clean and tidy on a daily basis. Room service is also handy if you are working extra early or late hours to accommodate an overseas’ client’s working hours.

It is also worth noting that the winter months are peak season for the Caribbean. But this year is likely to have better deals available due to the low demand in previous months.

If you are willing to open your own home as an airbnb property while you are working remotely in Barbados to help pay the bills, then it will be wise to coordinate a cleaning service or self-employed cleaner, and also set up an agreement with local plumbers and electricians should there be an emergency. Here are some tips from airbnb UK on being guest during these challenging times.

If you have a pet, here are some tips about entry into Barbados you should wish to bring them along for the extended business trip.

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