In recent years, technology has revolutionized the lifestyle of many people. The labor field is no stranger to these changes and every day it is common to see how workers and employers join forces to find the desired balance between personal and work lives. Nowadays, thanks to digital tools such as cloud applications, laptops, smart phones, Internet, among others, it is feasible to develop different activities without having to physically stay in the office.
As a result, the world is experiencing a growth of digital nomads, which can be categorized as those professionals who carry their “workplace” with them, i.e. work remotely while maintaining a nomadic lifestyle.
These people will be for a short period of time in a place and after a while, they will move to a new city or country where they will continue to perform their work.
Regardless of the institutional challenges that employers or even workers may have in relation to the productivity of work under these types of conditions, it is fundamental to make an analysis from a legal perspective and specifically on issues of immigration, labor and taxation law. Do I need a work visa in the countries I plan to visit while working remotely? will I have coverage by my health insurance or Occupational Risk Administrator (ARL) during my travels? should I declare or even pay taxes in the different states I visit as a digital nomad? These are just a few questions that may arise from this condition and that will have to be carefully reviewed consequently, in many countries, including Colombia, there are grey areas on this context.
Digital Nomads vs. Immigration
The speed with which technology and business in general evolve is not the same with which legal norms are created or modified. Despite the above, there are countries that make additional efforts and create precedents in different areas. Estonia, for example, was the first country to discuss and create a visa for digital nomads, which will be issued this year and will allow this population to live and work in that country for one year.
Even so, what can a digital nomad do when traveling to countries where they do not have a clear regulation regarding this type of activity? There has always been a debate about what is meant by executing business or work activities from the immigration perspective. In this virtue, when a worker with this condition wishes to enter Colombia, should they mention that they come to work or simply that they will carry out tourism activities?
Digital nomads in Colombia
In Colombia there is no specific type of visa or permit for digital nomads, which is why most of these workers are usually entering the country with an entry and residence permit for tourism or business (PIP-5 / PIP- 6), as long as they belong to the group of countries with unrestricted nationality to enter, or through a visitor’s visa. Would these be the best options for these types of workers?
I believe that this type of events will continue to occur and will increase, which is why the invitation is to support and regulate them, since they could be very beneficial for the country.