8 countries more welcoming to overseas workers than the UK

As the government announces plans to curb Skilled Worker visas, we examine the European countries that are embracing digital workers from abroad.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Yesterday afternoon, the Home Secretary, James Cleverly informed the Commons that the minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker from overseas will be hiked to £38,700 in order to curb growing immigration numbers.

The announcement has puzzled employers, many of whom had been relying on overseas hires to plug a widening talent shortage.

Today’s global workforce has seen foreign talent play a critical role in the growth of UK startups. By adding further costs to the recruitment process, Cleverly is effectively kneecapping company owners who will struggle to compete with international rivals.

To illustrate just how out-of-whack the new policy is with the rest of Europe, we’ve crunched the numbers to come up with a list of EU destinations where it is now easier for skilled overseas workers to get a visa than in the UK.

8 European countries to work in this winter

To arrive at our list of the top European countries that are more welcoming than the UK, we used information from our guide to the top Digital Nomad visas for expats. This document grants holders the legal right to work remotely outside of their country of birth or residence.

There is currently no UK Digital Nomad visa, in part due to current political trends which have discouraged migration. That means skilled foreign talent will be more incentivised to live and work in the below eight locations.

1. Croatia

Visa length: up to one year

Entry requirements: Requiring a minimum income of £26,700 per year, Croatia’s salary requirements look closer to the current UK rules. All you need to pitch up in sunny Dubrovnik is proof that your employer is not based in Croatia, and proof that you have secured accommodation for your first night in Croatia.

2. Czech Republic

Visa length: up to three years

Entry requirements: Launched in July 2023, the Czech Republic's “Digital Nomad” program is aimed at IT professionals, and asks only for a minimum annual income of £18,000. To qualify for the country’s £3 pints, applicants simply need proof of secured accommodation in the Czech Republic, a business plan, and a Czech trade licence.

3. Georgia

Visa length: no limit

Entry requirements: Valid for up to 95 nationalities, the “Remotely from Georgia” program is one of the most liberal that’s available in Europe. With zero minimum salary requirements, workers only need to demonstrate proof of employment or self-employment to work in the country.

4. Germany

Visa length: up to three years

Entry requirements: Boasting the fourth largest economy in the world, Germany’s laxer approach to overseas employment has clearly had a positive impact on growth. Applicants for the German “Freelancer Visa” must earn the low figure of £7,800 per year, plus show proof of interest from German clients and secured accommodation.

5. Hungary

Visa length: up to five years

Entry requirements: With its minimum income requirement of £21,500 per year, the Hungarian ‘White Card’ visa is specifically designed for skilled digital employees. On top of this, applicants must simply show proof of secured accommodation in Hungary, and proof their employer is based outside Hungary.

6. Malta

Visa length: up to three years

Entry requirements: Malta’s “Nomad Residence Permit” has been attracting young digital expats to the country’s sunny beaches for years, ever since it became a hub for gaming companies. Applicants simply need to earn at least £28,000 per year, plus prove their employer is based outside Malta, and they have secured accommodation on the island.

7. Portugal

Visa length: up to five years

Entry requirements: One popular destination for remote working is Portugal, which has seen a huge uptick in tech talent since its Digital Nomad visa was unveiled in 2022. Applicants need a minimum annual income requirement of £31,000, plus proof the employer is not based in Portugal and that they have secured accommodation.

8. Spain

Visa length: up to five years

Entry requirements: With a minimum annual salary requirement of £23,000, digital applicants can easily set up shop in a Spanish holiday villa this year. All the government asks for is proof that the employer is based outside Spain, and proof the business has been in operation for more than one year.

UK economic slowdown hits tech sector

The UK is currently in a dire financial state – not that the government will admit it. Despite GDP being estimated to have grown just 0.6% between 2022 and 2023, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt yesterday disagreed with claims that the economy has a ‘broken leg’. Instead, he argued it was a ‘sprained ankle’.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Resolution Foundation think tank and London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), Hunt also described the UK as one of the world’s best and most brilliant countries owing to its technology industry.

That description looks less accurate by the minute, however, as the ongoing cost of living crisis continues to wreak havoc on tech recruitment.

Despite record vacancies for tech roles amid a widening digital skills gap, research from Robert Half finds that 72% of teams report a crippling skills shortage as firms struggle to keep up with rising salaries.

This is a particular problem for the government, which has made much of how tech will revive the UK economy. In March 2023, economic output (GVA) of the digital sector was shown to have grown 12% since 2020.

But the government’s latest plan to reduce the number of Skilled Worker visas allocated could jeopardise this progress. Companies will be forced to fork out more to fund new scientific and technical roles. Otherwise, they risk falling behind compared to global rivals.

Our above list highlights how the EU is presenting a more attractive employment offer to global job seekers. But there are even more destinations further afield that are also outpacing UK tech employers.

Countries across every continent are rolling out the welcome wagon to encourage digital roles. For a full list of all the options available, check out or guide to the top 45 destinations for remote tech workers in 2024.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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