Japan Introduces Visa for Digital Nomads


Japan Introduces Visa for Digital Nomads

Japan’s Immigration Services Agency recently declared its plan to issue a new digital nomad visa, joining the trend among Asian countries. This visa, anticipated for weeks, will soon become available to citizens from 49 countries, including the UK and the US. It permits recipients to live and work remotely across Japan for a maximum of six months.

The digital nomad community worldwide has warmly received the news, with substantial acclaim on platforms such as Reddit’s r/DigitalNomad and r/Japan, indicating a strong interest. Despite the enthusiasm, potential applicants have raised concerns over the demanding eligibility requirements associated with the visa.

According to a report by the Japan Times, to qualify for the visa, individuals must prove an annual income of at least ¥10 million (approximately £54,356 or $66,622), possess private health insurance, and understand that they cannot obtain a residence card. The visa expires after six months without the option for renewal. Despite these stringent conditions, the visa is expected to attract significant interest, particularly from those seeking to extend their stay beyond the standard 90-day visa-free tourist period.

This initiative aligns with Japan’s emerging status as a leading destination for remote work. In 2023, Japan was named the fastest-growing remote working hub, based on analysis by Nomad List from over 300,000 database check-ins, highlighting the country’s appeal to the global nomad community.

The eligibility requirements are quite strict and difficult to meet for the average digital nomad – Brittany Loeffler

Moreover, Japan’s introduction of a digital nomad visa isn’t just about meeting the increasing demand; the country also aims to capitalize on the economic influx associated with digital nomads. According to a BBC report, a 2023 study by Carlos Grider revealed that digital nomads inject nearly $800 billion into the global economy each year. Much of this economic contribution has benefited countries like Portugal and Spain, with Portugal hosting close to 16,000 digital nomads in December 2023, as per Nomad List. This surge is attributed to Portugal’s Golden Visa program and its own digital nomad visa, making it an attractive residency option for expatriates. Meanwhile, Spain has emerged as a favored destination for nomads, largely due to its visa’s relatively low income requirement of just €2,600 per month, as reported by VisaGuide.World, significantly less than what Japan proposes.

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Japan’s high income threshold mirrors a broader trend seen across various Asian nations exploring digital nomad visas. Brittany Loeffler, Nomad Embassy’s head of operations, notes the contrast between Asia’s approach and Europe’s more accessible digital nomad visas. “Asia’s digital nomad visas are not necessarily ‘easy’ to obtain,” she explains, citing higher salary demands and stringent work nature requirements compared to European counterparts.

Loeffler also highlights Southeast Asia’s popularity among digital nomads for its cost-effective living, dependable internet, and favorable climate. However, the high entry barriers, such as those announced for Thailand’s Long-Term Residence Visa, could deter the average nomad. Despite the excitement surrounding its release, the stringent eligibility criteria pose a significant challenge for many in the nomad community.

The criteria for securing Thailand’s visa necessitate applicants to demonstrate an annual income of at least $80,000 for the two years preceding their application, along with holding a minimum of $1 million in assets. Despite these stringent entry requirements, Thailand is optimistic about the positive economic impact this visa could have. The Thai Embassy believes that this initiative will spur economic growth and attract foreign investment, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic. The government aims to attract one million qualified foreigners within the next five years through this visa.

Brittany Loeffler highlights the significant economic contribution digital nomads can offer, akin to prolonged tourism, where spending extends over weeks or months. “Digital nomad visas serve as a powerful tool for economic enhancement,” she remarks, “enabling countries to welcome digital nomads for extended periods without the worry of them displacing local jobs. These nomads bring in foreign income and spend it within the host economy.”

Nonetheless, Loeffler acknowledges the potential challenges these visas pose to local communities. Citing the example of Lisbon, Portugal, she notes the adverse effects on real estate prices due to the influx of digital nomads. As property owners realize that digital nomads can afford higher rents, prices escalate, impacting affordability for local residents. This phenomenon could similarly affect major Japanese cities like Tokyo, which has already seen a rise in housing costs, potentially exacerbated by the introduction of the new visa.

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Indeed, the economic revival following the pandemic is expected to enhance Japan’s strategy for boosting inbound tourism, a key component of which is the newly introduced visa, as announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in May 2023. However, similar to Thailand, the stringent requirements may lead some digital nomads to opt for “visa runs” instead: maximizing their stay on a tourist visa, exiting the country to restart their stay period, and then re-entering on the same tourist visa.

“Evelina Krusinskaite, a 28-year-old who oscillates between her native Ireland and Thailand, shared her experience with this workaround. “”The situation in Thailand is particularly challenging for many, who stay either on an education visa, allowing a six-month to one-year stay, or on a tourist visa, frequently exiting and re-entering the country,”” she remarks. Krusinskaite finds Thailand, especially Chiang Mai—often hailed as the world’s “Digital Nomad Capital”—an irresistible destination. Initially moving to Thailand on a work visa as an English teacher, she quickly fell in love with the city and is eager to return.

Krusinskaite’s affinity for Thailand is palpable. “”I absolutely love Thailand,”” she enthuses, praising the local kindness. Yet, despite embodying the digital nomad lifestyle of working and living anywhere, she remains noncommittal about its permanence, reflecting, “”Forever is a very long time.””


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Malaysia has introduced a digital nomad visa that permits individuals to reside in the country for a maximum of one year. To qualify, applicants are required to possess a valid passport, be employed in a remote capacity by their company, engage in digital-related fields such as IT, content creation, or digital marketing, and demonstrate a minimum annual income of $24,000 (£19,067). Additionally, proof of health insurance is mandatory for nomads.

South Korea

As of January 2024, South Korea launched a digital nomad visa, enabling visitors to stay for up to two years. Requirements include having a valid passport, engaging in remote work, providing evidence of a yearly income of at least $66,000 (£52,435), and maintaining valid international health insurance.

The Philippines

The Philippines introduced its digital nomad visa in 2023, which allows visitors to stay up to 12 months. Applicants must prove an annual income of at least $24,000 (£19,050) and have health insurance coverage. There’s ongoing discussion about potentially extending the visa’s duration to up to 24 months.