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December 30, 2020

As countries continue to roll out long-stay visas for foreigners in an attempt to replace lost tourism dollars and to attract remote workers, Singapore announces the launch in 2021 of a Tech.Pass visa programme offering tech entrepreneurs from across the world the chance to set up and operate companies in the southeast Asia trading hub.

This new Singapore visa is similar to other digital nomad programmes that have been set up in the last six months by countries such as Estonia, Croatia, Dubai, Antigua and Barbados, in that it gives digital nomads and remote workers the chance to live and work in the country for an extended period of time.

However, unlike most of the other digital nomad programmes which require only that applicants prove they can work remotely (no matter the industry), this new Singapore visa requires specific experience and expertise within the tech industry.

Designed to attract tech talent to the island, the criteria for applicants is that they are technology entrepreneurs, experts or leaders with experience in already established or fast-growing tech-related companies.

Available from January 2021 on a first-come first-serve basis, with just 500 visas available at launch, each Tech.Pass will entitle an individual (and their spouse, children or parents via sponsorship) to live in Singapore for up to two years, which can then be further renewed for two more years if renewal criteria is achieved.

Under the Singapore Tech.Pass, individuals can start and operate one or more tech companies and/or be an employee in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time and transit between employers or to being an entrepreneur. Furthermore, they can be a consultant or a mentor or lecture in local institutions or higher learning, or be an investor and director in one or more Singapore-based companies.

In order to qualify for the Singapore Tech.Pass, applicants must show proof of a last drawn fixed monthly salary of at least S$20,000 (US$15,000) and either five cumulative years of experience in either a leading role in a tech company (valuation of at least US$500m or US$30 million funding raised) or in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or US$100m annual revenue.

Applicants must apply via the Singapore Economic Development Board by clicking here from January 2021.

Global digital nomad visas rolled out

The pandemic has given rise to a lifestyle shift of working remotely and countries worldwide, many of which have suffered economically during the pandemic due to lost tourism dollars, are keen to attract such remote workers to their shores. This has led to a flood of digital nomad visa programmes hitting the market in recent months.

Barbados was the first country out of the digital nomad blocks, in July, when it unveiled its Barbados Welcome Stamp, designed to attract remote workers to stay (and work remotely) on the island visa-free for up to 12 months. Since then, there has been a tsunami of other countries worldwide launching similar initiatives.

Currently, there are 18 countries offering digital nomad visas, including Germany, Mexico, Spain, Aruba and The Czech Republic, and with even more unveiling programmes in the last six months, including a number of Caribbean islands – Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Antigua & Barbuda – as well as Dubai, Georgia and Estonia.

The latest countries to jump on the digital nomad visa bandwagon are the EU countries of Iceland as well as Greece and Croatia.

To find out more about some of the digital nomad visa programmes, click here