Everything you need to know about remote work visas in Africa

Remote work is now part of the “New Normal”, and is well set to stay. In 2020, during the pandemic, This new work culture has also seen full-time workers turn to freelancing, thus broadening the talent pool that businesses can tap into.

To cater for this revolution in the working culture, more and more countries are introducing visionary Remote Work Visas, allowing employees to work legally from another country.

But while employees rejoice in the opportunities for travel and the work-life balance offered by such measures, employers are left with more than a few questions. Legally, who qualifies as a remote worker? What does a remote work visa entail? Which countries offer remote work visas in Africa? How to manage them? We give you the answers to these questions and more below.

What is remote work?

Remote work, at its most basic, involves being location-independent while carrying out professional duties, meaning that the worker does not need to be present on the premises in order to fulfil his or her professional obligations. Remote work visas help workers legally carry out such duties in other countries.

Why offer remote work?

A perfectly natural question that companies ask is why they should offer the option of remote work at all, especially since it is no longer imperative on grounds of sanitary safety. But remote work is not merely a trend brought on by the pandemic. Rather, studies overwhelmingly point to it as being part of a fundamental change within the global working culture. Even more interestingly, remote work offers benefits for both employees and employers.

Benefits of remote work for employers

1.     Increased retention rate

Employee satisfaction is key to retention. In 2022, not offering remote work to your employees could well discourage them from staying in the company. Indeed, studies show that 1 in 4 employees in the United States would quit their job if they could no longer work remotely after the pandemic.

2.     Increased employee productivity

Compared to working from the office, 83% of employees say that they are either as or more productive when working remotely. Furthermore, 55% of employees have reported working more hours when at home than when at the office.

3.     Cost-effectiveness

Remote work means that companies have less of a need for large office spaces. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, 22% of companies have reduced their office space, which can result in significant savings.

4.     Larger talent pool

Entering the remote work arena means an opening into a broader, more diverse talent pool for companies. No longer restricted by geographical locations, the best talent from around the globe is made available to employers.

The benefit of remote work for employees

Increased employee satisfaction

Employees have reported increased levels of well-being and job satisfaction after being allowed to work remotely. Indeed, 76% of surveyed U.S. employees said working from home after the pandemic would make them happier, according to a 2021 study carried out by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics.

It is well-known that a happy employee is a loyal one, and previous studies confirm the link between employee well-being as a result of remote work and employee retention rates. In 2017 for instance, studies led by Stanford indicated there was a 50% decrease in resignations in companies that allowed remote work. 

The 4 different types of remote workers

Once a company opens itself to the idea of employing remote workers, it must adopt a new vocabulary, one that features similar, yet subtly different terms such as digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers.

 

Remote worker

Remote employee

Freelancer

Digital Nomad

Definition

A self-employed person or a full-time employee with the freedom to work remotely

A full-time employee with the freedom to work remotely, at least in some capacity

A self-employed individual with the freedom to work whenever and however they please

A remote worker, either self-employed or a full-time employee, who adopts nomadism as a lifestyle, moving from country to country

Working Hours

N/A

Follows office hours

Sets their own hours

May be subject to office hours if they are a full-time employee

Time Zone

N/A

Usually works at a set time zone

Has several clients

May need to work at a set time zone if they are a full-time employee

Salary, Taxes & Benefits

N/A

Receives salary and benefits from employer

Manages their own pay and taxes wherever they are

N/A


Requirements for a remote work visa

While specific requirements differ from country to country, most countries offering remote work visas will ask for the following:

  1. Minimum Salary & Income

    To ensure that workers are able to afford their stay, some countries require proof that they are financially stable and that their monthly salary exceeds a certain amount. Some countries may also require workers to have a minimum balance in their bank accounts.

  2. Health Insurance

    To make sure that foreign workers do not depend on the local public health services, many countries require them to have health insurance coverage.

  3. Maximum stay

    Remote work visas, like all visas, are not indefinite and workers can only stay for a maximum number of days before they need to leave or renew their remote work visa.


Which countries are offering remote work visas in Africa?

Despite the disparities and differences in the stay limits in the remote work visas offered by different countries in the African continent, countries like Mauritius, Cabo Verde, Seychelles, and South Africa have been more responsive to this new way of working.

  1. Mauritius

Located in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Madagascar, Mauritius is an island nation that has recently opened its borders to remote workers thanks to its “Premium Work Visa”.

Remote Visa Requirements in Mauritius

  • The remote worker must own an independent business or work remotely for a company located outside of Mauritius
  • The worker must show proof of plans to stay on the island. This includes proof of accommodation
  • The applicant must have proper travel and health insurance coverage
  • Income earned and remitted in Mauritius is taxable in Mauritius
  • Workers and their employees pay taxes in the country in which the working contract was established, unless the worker stays in Mauritius for over 183 days, in which case they are considered a tax resident
  • There is NO visa fee
  • The visa is valid for 1 year and is renewable
  • Applicants must agree to not join the local labour market during their stay
  • Visa application is done and granted online.

2.    South Africa

South Africa is currently working on a Remote Work Visa that will allow remote workers to stay longer than the 90 days they were allowed to before.

Requirements for the South African Remote Work Visa

  • The worker must prove that they work remotely. An employee would be required to show copies of employment contracts and possibly payslips
  • The minimum income requirement has yet to be set, but it is suggested that it may be around $3,000 per month
  • While in South Africa, the worker must have health insurance coverage.
  • The remote employee must have either a lease or online booking of where they plan to stay in South Africa
  • The length of stay under this remote work visa is said to be of 1 year, barring further confirmation
  • Visa application is done and granted online
  • Any income earned while working in South Africa will be taxable in South Africa.

3.    Cabo Verde

An island nation, Cabo Verde is located in the central Atlantic Ocean and introduced the “Cabo Verde Remote Working Program” in 2020.

Requirements

  • The remote worker must show proof of income, either by showing a bank statement or a copy of their last few payslips
  • The remote employee must have health insurance coverage
  • The minimum income requirement is quite low, at $27,000 annually
  • The visa fee is $185
  • There is NO income tax
  • The visa allows workers to stay up to 6 months and is renewable for a further 6 months
  • Visa application is done and granted online
  • The visa is valid from the date of arrival in Cabo Verde.

4.    Seychelles

Yet another island nation located in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles now offers a remote worker visa.

Requirements

  • The applicants should provide documents as proof of being an employee (A letter of employment) or having their own business
  • Workers must provide proof of income or wealth through bank statements or payslips
  • Applicants must have health and travel insurance coverage
  • Applicants must have at least provisional proof of confirmed accommodation
  • The length of stay is up to 1 year and is renewable
  • There is NO local income tax
  • The visa fee is $55

How Africa HR Solutions can help?

Remote teams, at least to some degree, are becoming the norm. When diversifying your workforce in African countries, there are accompanying duties such as payroll and ensuring compliance with labour law that you must take on. Of course, there are also risks to be aware of, namely those concerning employee misclassification. All this often proves to be too much to handle, leaving companies with little time to focus on their core business. A PEO (Professional Employment Organisation) can take on these responsibilities and save your company time and money.

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