The Future of Remote Work: Digital Nomads and the Implications for Immigration Systems
The pandemic spurred a rapid shift in working practices. In the decades leading up to the COVID-19 crisis, technological advances had allowed a growing number of people with jobs not tied to a specific location to work remotely, particularly in high-income countries with robust technological infrastructure. But the social-distancing and lockdown measures implemented in early 2020 accelerated this trend, with many people working remotely for the first time and some “digital nomads” seeking to do so internationally.
These changes in the world of work have important ramifications for immigration systems worldwide, most of which are poorly attuned to remote work arrangements. Finding ways to adapt immigration policies to keep pace with remote work trends is likely to remain important even as the public-health threat recedes in many places, as there are signs that many employers will continue to demonstrate far greater flexibility about where their employees work—both as a means to streamline operations and to attract and retain workers who are increasingly demanding the option to work remotely.
This report examines the challenges that remote workers and their employers face when navigating immigration systems, and analyzes opportunities to introduce greater flexibility into immigration, employment, and tax policies to accommodate the rapid rise of nontraditional working arrangements. In the immigration sphere, it identifies options for adapting existing immigration pathways to accommodate remote work and discusses the new digital nomad visas that have sprung up in countries around the world.
2 Remote Work: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities
A. Remote Work and the Pandemic
B. The Challenges and Opportunities of Remote Work
C. The Future of Remote Work
3 Rethinking Immigration Systems for an Era of Remote Work
A. Adapting Existing Immigration Policies to Accommodate Remote Work
B. Standalone Policies for Remote Workers
4 Conclusions and Recommendations