Aspiring ski bums* rejoice!

Japan’s Immigration Services Agency has announced the arrival of a Digital Nomad Visa, which is expected to be offered from the end of March onwards and will be open to 49 countries and territories including the US, Australia, and Singapore. The 6-month visa will require an annual income of ¥10 million (~US$68,300) and private insurance, according to an article published in The Japan Times.

The visa will not be eligible for renewal, and at the conclusion of the 6-month period, travellers will need to leave the country for at least six months before they can reapply. Visa holders will not be allowed to obtain a residence card or have access to Japan’s national healthcare system (NHS).

The response from the digital nomad community has been mixed, with many taking aim at the high barrier to entry and inability to stay beyond 6 months.

“6 months makes this pretty pointless, might as well just keep using tourist visas”, said one Reddit user, while another argued that the 10 million yen threshold “would eliminate 99% of digital nomads”.

One user noted the possibility of a strengthening yen putting the program even further out of reach.

“…If it [the yen] were to recover to it’s usual historic valuation of 1 yen to 1 US cent this would be a 100k/year requirement.”

Japan now joins a growing list of more than 50 countries offering some form of visa aimed at remote workers, and is reportedly hoping to attract owners and workers from consulting companies, as well as Youtubers earning overseas advertising dollars.

The move is part of a national effort to push “digital transformation”, which has been a key government focus since the formation of a special Digital Agency in 2021.

The attention on digital nomads comes not a moment too soon, with up to 35 million digital nomads now active worldwide, generating an economic value of US$787 billion.

One question remains (for us): how many of these will end up on Japan’s ski slopes?

*Working ski bums

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