Around six months after the Covid-19 global pandemic had spread across the globe causing many countries to take drastic measures such as national lockdowns forcing businesses to adapt to a "working from home" model where possible, we wrote an article highlighting the evolution of the concept of the "digital nomad" in our various offshore jurisdictions.
The continued mandatory closure of offices in jurisdictions where Covid-19 is prevalent resulted in a shift of the typical professional falling within the concept of the "digital nomad" from a writer or freelancer, to include pretty much any person who conducts business from their laptop. This shift prompted an increased desire for people to conduct business from safer, and often warmer, climates where one can roam freely in the knowledge that the chance of contracting Covid-19 is significantly lower.
Many of our offshore jurisdictions anticipated this increased desire and developed and passed legislation to provide suitable exemptions to work permit and immigration issues that would normally prevent digital nomads from coming to a jurisdiction to live and work. One example of this in practice was the Cayman Islands Government which on 16 October 2020, passed regulations that gave birth to its Global Citizen Concierge Programme (Programme). As detailed in this article, the Programme was specifically designed with digital nomads in mind so they could circumvent the immigration and work permit requirements that would otherwise prevent them from being a digital nomad. Similarly, in Bermuda, the (Certificate) programme started in August 2020 and allows remote workers and students from overseas to temporarily relocate to Bermuda.
We are now, in most cases, at least six months into the new programmes that have allowed digital nomads to come to our offshore jurisdictions. We predicted an upward trend of temporary relocation from jurisdictions highly affected by Covid-19 to offshore jurisdictions that offer safer and more appealing environments. Did this prediction reflect the reality? Based on the information provided to date from Cayman and Bermuda, the programmes have clearly met a business need for the expanded pool of digital nomads from countries where the most highly sought commodity became the freedom to go outside in the manner enjoyed in pre-Covid-19 times.
According to an article in the Cayman Compass, by March 2021, the Cayman Islands Government had approved 73 applications in the Programme, providing permission for 178 people to come to the Islands. Travellers entering the Cayman Islands via the Programme are subject to the usual quarantine protocols including mandatory isolation for 14 days and 10 days for unvaccinated and vaccinated travellers respectively. Irrespective of whether a traveller is vaccinated, they must provide a medical certificate showing a negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and a PCR test upon arrival in Cayman. The grant of a certificate within the Programme allows the successful applicant to reside in the Cayman Islands for a period of up to 24 months.
To be eligible for the Programme, the person must be employed outside the Cayman Islands and intend to remain so employed if a certificate is granted. They must provide evidence that he or she earns no less than the prescribed minimum annual income generated outside of the Cayman Islands (USD100,000 for the applicant; USD150,000 for the applicant and spouse/civil partner; and USD180,000 for the applicant and spouse/civil partner and dependent child or just the applicant and dependent child or children).The annual fee in the Programme for an applicant and one dependent is KYD1,230. The annual fee for each dependent of any applicant (where there is more than one dependant) is KYD420. Certain restrictions will apply to the successful applicant, including a prohibition against offering any goods or services to any person or entity in the Cayman Islands; a prohibition against obtaining more than one certificate within the Programme; and a requirement to possess adequate health insurance. On the termination of employment of a person holding a certificate obtained via the Programme, the employer of that person shall advise the Government of that termination as soon as reasonably possible but no later than 30 days after the termination and the certificate shall automatically expire on the date of termination of employment.
In Bermuda, the Certificate initiative has been very successful in attracting new temporary residents. An article in the Royal Gazette in February reported that 570 approvals were granted following 648 applications for the Certificate. Travellers entering Bermuda on a Certificate need to comply with stringent Covid-19 protocols which include completing the Bermuda travel authorization process online prior to departure for Bermuda. Certificate holders must take a Covid-19 PCR test within 5 days (ideally 72 hours) of flying to Bermuda. Upon arrival all travellers will be tested for Covid-19 at the airport and are required to quarantine until their results are ready. Tests are also required on day 4, day 8 and day 14 after arrival. All travellers are required to wear a Traveller Wristband for the first 14 days of their stay in Bermuda.
The Bermuda government has also issued guidance for immunised travellers. Immunised travellers with a negative pre-arrival and arrival Covid-19 PCR test are not required to quarantine but still must have Covid-19 tests on day 4, 8 and 14. Immunised business travellers are permitted to have face to face meetings after receiving negative Covid-19 pre-arrival and arrival test results. Similar to Cayman, the Certificate programme requires that candidates possess valid health insurance coverage and be able to demonstrate employment with a legitimate company, or their own company, registered and operating outside of Bermuda, or have substantial means or a continuous source of annual income. There is a fee of BMD263 per applicant and it is possible for applicants to bring their families, provided each family member submits his or her own application. Certificate holders can enrol their children in local private schools.
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